Day in the life profile—Alison Zhu

Alison Zhu


I am by no means a morning person so waking up at 7am is the perfect sweet spot for me. My day doesn’t start until I get in my morning stretches and then I’ll listen to the ABC News as I prepare my breakfast and lunch. Around 8.10am I’ll quickly tidy up, change into my work clothes, and head out the door. My morning commute is about 5 minutes as I live in the city.

packed lunch


I am currently completing a placement in the Regional Initiatives Implementation Office (RIIO) which sits in the corporate/enabling section of the Regional Division. Working in a project management office means we are the central coordination point for program governance, implementation, monitoring and reporting for the division.

My team is pretty flexible, and people usually start work anywhere between 8am-9am. I like to start my workday at 8.30am and the first thing I do when I arrive at my desk is check my emails and flag anything that I need to action. I then add these tasks to my task list (which is rearranged regularly according to the priorities of the team) and sort the rest of the emails into their respective folders in Outlook.

Today, I’m continuing a task I was working on yesterday which is researching emerging risks, as defined in the Department’s Risk Management and Policy Framework, in order to assess what risks could impact program delivery in the Regional Division. My findings will assist with the workshop sessions my supervisor is hosting to help program teams identify emerging risks for their Program Status Reports (PSRs).

office work station


Time for our daily team meeting! Our meetings are always scheduled for 9.30am on GovTeams as people in my team are still slowly migrating back into the office. Our meetings are a great way for us to share funny stories, catch up with each other and start the morning with some positivity. It also helps us understand what our priorities are for the day and for our director to keep us in the loop on SES and executive updates. I feel incredibly supported by my team every day.

rotation 3 work team chat


With the team meeting over, my supervisor and I have two back-to-back workshops with the RJIP and BBRF program teams to discuss how emerging risks and how to incorporate risk forecasting into the PSR key milestone reporting section. We also share feedback from the Regional Initiatives Governance Board on areas of the PSRs they would like more detail in.

RIIO does a lot of stakeholder consultation and management as part of being an “office of best practice” and as someone who hasn’t worked in a project management office before, this rotation certainly provides me with useful skills in project management which will translate well across other work areas.


I enjoy having virtual lunch catchups with Emily and Ani to see how they are doing (I’d never tell them this in person but I’m so grateful to have met them both through the Infrastructure graduate program).

graduate group virtually meeting for lunch


My supervisor messages me on Skype to check-in and her support is always much appreciated. I quickly discuss with her the “Lessons Learned” meetings I have scheduled in for the afternoon and iron out a few details on how I will run these meetings.

The Lessons Learned Register supports the Division in capturing better practices, avoid knowledge silos by enabling the transfer of knowledge in program and project management and also assists our team in developing standards. As part of this process, I am engaging across the division to understand best practices, what could have been done better and challenges people are facing from a program management perspective. Some topics I ended up covering during these sessions included records management, audit trails, reporting, information management and stakeholder management.

two colleagues in discussion around a table


With all my meetings done for the day, I switch to the next task on my to-do list which is updating the process maps. My goal is to ensure the process maps capture the procurement process more accurately across the “planning and establishment”, “assessment and funding decisions” and “funding agreement” phases of program delivery. While working on these, my supervisor helped me understand that there is a fine line between a “process” and a “procedure” and it was important I didn’t end up replicating the procurement procedure as not all program teams needed to follow the procedural guidelines word by word.

planning posters


The final task I have scheduled for the day is reviewing past ANAO audits to ensure the division is learning from the audit recommendations and making informed decisions about adopting them. I check in with my director to seek her advice on what the final deliverable will be. We agree on an interim report outlining what the division has done to address the recommendations and a final action plan for consideration by the Regional Initiatives Board outlining how we intend to address any gaps. The next Governance Board meeting is in less than a month and so I move this task up in my list of priorities.


It’s time to fill in my timesheet and call it a day! I’ll usually go for a jog or a long walk. Today, I’m meeting two of my friends for dinner to celebrate a promotion! After dinner, I unwind by making myself a big pot of tea and watching an episode of Extreme Cheapskates.