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Professional Staff at ACEMS

ACEMS had a total of 404 academic members across 2021, who were supported by the Centre’s large professional staff team. This team provides exceptional support across administration, finance, stakeholder engagement, outreach, and communications and media. ACEMS is dedicated to ensuring that all its staff are getting the best opportunities for development and training, and aims to lead the way in which ARC Centres of Excellence operate.

ACEMS has two large nodes at QUT and UoM which are home to the Central professional staff ranging from the Centre's Chief Operating Officer, our specialised portfolio officers of Stakeholder Engagement, Outreach, Communications and Media, and Finance, as well as our dedicated Central Administration Officer and Project Officer. The Centre also has Node Administration Officers which support the day-to day operations of the Centre at UoM, QUT, Monash, UoA, UNSW and UTS.

In a sign of the depth of talent in the team, four of the Centre’s six Outstanding Service Awards were awarded to professional staff. ACEMS Director Peter Taylor presented these awards at the Final Retreat for exceptional service during their entire time with the Centre and consistently demonstrating leadership above and beyond their official role.

Emily Duane, Chief Operating Officer

Tim Macuga, Communications and Media Officer

Minh Nguyen, Centre Finance Manager

Rosanna Verde, Outreach Business Officer

ACEMS Professional Staff presented with Outstanding Service Awards the Centre’s Final Retreat, for exceptional service during their entire time with the Centre and consistently demonstrating leadership above and beyond their official role.

2021 Professional Staff Changes

ACEMS experienced significant changes to its professional staff team during 2021, most of which were expected as the Centre moved into its wind-down phase.

ACEMS Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dr Emily Duane returned from maternity leave in June. With Emily’s return to her substantive position, the Centre farewelled Anita Vecchies as COO maternity leave replacement. Anita did a terrific job in Emily’s absence and subsequently joined the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics as their new COO.

Later in the year, ACEMS also farewelled Outreach Business Officer Rosanna Verde, who moved on to new opportunities at The University of Melbourne. Rosanna joined the Centre in 2019 and made significant contributions to the Centre’s outreach program – which were recognised with an Outstanding Service Award at the Final Retreat – including organising the National Science Quiz and the ACEMS Public Lecture Series, as well as support for the MathsCraft program.

In the middle of 2021, the Centre welcomed Victoria Edwards who replaced Sarah Keany at the University of Adelaide Node as their Node Administrator. In addition to directly supporting the Adelaide Node, Victoria also supports the MathsCraft and outreach team.

The Centre also farewelled Node Administrators Helena Beck (UTS) and Luna Liu (UoM), and Project Officer Tracy Kelly (QUT) as they moved on to take up other opportunities as their appointments came to an end.

The remaining members of the professional staff team – Chief Operating Officer Emily Duane, Centre Finance Manager Minh Nguyen, Communications and Media Officer Tim Macuga, Stakeholder Engagement Officer Angela Dahlke, Centre Administrator Ben Hess, Outreach Officer Anita Ponsaing, and Node Administrators Kris Mann (QUT), Angelika Nikolov-Arvela (Monash) and Zosia Wargocka (UNSW) – continued to make terrific contributions to the Centre’s day-to-day operations in their respective roles and will stay with ACEMS into early 2022 to help finalise the Centre’s annual report and other wind-down matters.

As a sign of the Centre’s ability to attract, develop and mentor outstanding professional staff, many of those staying into 2022 already have new positions lined up: Minh Nguyen will be the new Centre Manager of the Graeme Clark Institute for Biomedical Engineering at The University of Melbourne; Tim Macuga will be the Senior Project Officer in charge of communications for the Australian Data Science Network and QUT Centre for Data Science; and Angela Dahlke will also stay at QUT, facilitating Data Sciences Industry Engagement. Anita and Victoria will continue to deliver MathsCraft activities to the end of 2022, and Angelika will return to her full-time support role in the School of Mathematical Sciences at Monash University.

In exciting personal developments, Kris looks forward to retiring in February after a long and successful professional career, while Zosia will welcome her second child after moving back to Poland. Emily and Ben will stay based at The University of Melbourne until December 2022 to complete the Centre’s final report and acquittal, develop the new ACEMS legacy website, expand and relaunch The Random Sample podcast, and attend to other wind-down matters. However, we are confident that they will also commence fantastic new roles in 2023 commensurate will their exceptional skills and aligned with their passions.

The ACEMS community thanks all professional staff members for their contributions to the Centre’s effective and efficient operations and wish them all the very best in their future endeavours.

ACEMS professional staff team members (L-R) Tracy Kelly, Tim Macuga, Emily Duane, Rosanna Verde, Anita Ponsaing, Luna Liu and Minh Nguyen.

Professional Development

Throughout 2021, the team met regularly via Zoom to enhance and refine the Centre's operations. Ongoing travel restrictions meant that plans for interstate visits for professional staff did not happen. This included time normally spent together in person undertaking face-to-face training and professional development, and at the Annual Retreat. Whilst used to interacting virtually due to the geographical spread of professional staff, working from home added an extra challenge. The team were united during this period, building on the collaborative and supportive work environment which resulted in some fantastic achievements in the operations of the Centre and a stronger team.

Staying in touch

The professional staff team stay in touch with each other using Microsoft Teams with an assortment of specialised channels. They also meet online regularly, with all Central and Node staff meeting fortnightly, and Central staff meeting every other week. These regular meetings contribute to the Centre’s efficient and effective operations by helping the team to be across all major activities, to join the dots, share expertise and information, learn about each other’s roles, share challenges and offer ideas and solutions, and build strong and positive working relationships. For much of the year, particularly the nodes that were working from home, the team also had daily informal zoom meetings where they could join if needed and maintain a sense of connection.

Professional Staff Disbanding Activities

The professional staff team usually hold an in-person catch up twice a year. These catch ups are an opportunity to plan for the year ahead, hold professional development sessions and for everyone to get more familiar with their interstate colleagues.

While it has not been possible to hold these events in person during 2021, the professional staff team held an extended virtual catch up in late 2021 as part of their disbanding activities. During this get-together, Media and Communications Officer Tim Macuga, facilitated a communications workshop tailored to the professional staff team. The 90-minute workshop focused on how to write factual, concise, and engaging communications to both a higher education and general audience.

The team also spent time reflecting on “where have we come from and where are we going”. It was a fantastic occasion to acknowledge and celebrate what everyone achieved as a team and individually during their time with the Centre. It was also a great opportunity to share news about next roles and other plans for 2022 and beyond, before ACEMS Director Peter Taylor joined the team for his final reflections, thankyous and farewells.

ACEMS Professional Staff Training and Development Fund

ACEMS is dedicated to ensuring that all its staff are getting the best opportunities to progress their careers so that they can gain valuable experience while with ACEMS that will hold them in good stead for future roles beyond ACEMS. Staff are encouraged to take the initiative when it comes to progressing their career and should have access to appropriate opportunities to allow them to do so. These include mentoring, informal (on the job) training, additional responsibilities, secondments and formal (internal and external) training.

To recognise the importance of professional staff development, ACEMS created a formal policy and process and created a dedicated Professional Staff Development Fund towards more formal training activities in 2020 and 2021. ACEMS has allocated $20,000 for central staff (up to $3,000 per staff member, pro-rated per FTE) while node staff are funded by their respective nodes up to the same level.

In 2021, ACEMS supported the following development opportunities through this scheme:

Professional training Professional staff Training dates
Certificate IV of Leadership and Management – Australian Institute of Management Minh Nguyen (UoM) Sept 2020 – Sept 2022
Diploma of Project Management, Leadership and Management – Australian Institute of Management (ACEMS jointly funded) Tracy Kelly (QUT) Aug 2020 – Jul 2022
Graduate Diploma of Data Science Ben Hess (UoM) Jan 2021 – Dec 2022

Plans for 2022

A smaller contingent of professional staff will continue into 2022 to finalise the Centre’s annual report, final report and acquittal, development of a legacy website, and other wind-down matters. As well as working on the wind-down of the Centre in 2022, the professional staff team will continue to support each other for future roles and opportunities.