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Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director, Risk and Resilience, Andrew Sanders

Staff Profile: 

OEM Director Risk and Resilience 

Andrew Sanders


5 December 2017


Can you give us a ​​brief overview of your professional background?


Originally a geologist, I worked in geochemical mapping across WA in the 1990s and early 2000s. Growing up in a sailing family gave me the chance to be involved in national and international sailing from a young age.


In 2001 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to coach the Singapore National team. I worked in Singapore until 2010 coaching and managing Singapore's elite athletes through the Asian Games, South East Asian Games including the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. This was a fantastic experience allowing me to work in senior executive roles, including as CEO for the National Sport Organisation. This experience taught me a lot about leadership and helped shape my career.


In 2011 I returned to WA and juggled two Masters Degrees and a newborn baby. There were lots of sleepless nights! The follo​wing year I started at the SEMC Secretariat (now the OEM) to help write the first Emergency Preparedness Report (2012). My current role is Director Risk and Resilience.


What's th​​​e most rewarding part of your job?


Dealing with a complex EM environment and finding ways forward. Hazards and vulnerabilities are all rising in Australia so my job involves thinking about how we can understand and build resilience in this changing landscape.


And t​​​he most challenging?

The hazard and vulnerability changes are taking place on a large scale but are hard to see on a day-by-day basis. This makes it difficult to get buy-in from all stakeholders. The challenge is in understanding the forward trajectory and future impacts and communicating this effectively to the community so we can adapt.


Another challenge is that we are working in a tight fiscal environment, so adapting ourselves to climate change and innovating is important.


However, I must admit that one of my biggest challenges is in my job as 'dad'. Negotiating with my nearly 5 year old daughter is not for the faint hearted and most of the times she comfortably wins hands down.


​What does true leadershi​​​p mean to you?


I have a very sports orientated view of teams, always looking to build diversity, breadth and depth in the team for resilience and adaptability. A team's skillsets should differ yet be co-supportive and complementary.


I try to ensure my team synergises well so that the "whole is greater than the sum of the parts". As a leader I want to provide the appropriate support and protection to my staff so they can operate to their full potential. I believe a team should be empowered and encouraged to make innovative decisions to achieve the organisation's goals.


For me, outcome, output and productivity are key as this provides the best benefit for our stakeholders and the community as a whole. Good morals, ethics and behaviours must be integral to this delivery.


I am always looking for opportunities to further develop myself as a leader and enjoy being coached and mentored in my role. Likewise I enjoy coaching my team and helping them fulfil their potential. Learning is life-long.


Do you have a personal phil​​​osophy that has guided your career?

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​Good values, morals and ethics are very important to me. I find it very rewarding to do things that align with my values. This gives me enormous motivation and meaning in my work.​


I believe learning is a continuous process and it's important that we try new and different ways. As Ric Charlesworth said: "Just as our mistakes can teach us, so can our success. Just as other sports and areas of endeavour can teach us, so can we conceptualise and imagine improvements and change. The search for progress and development must never cease".


​Can you tell us something that might surprise us about you?


In the late 1990s I was an Australian National Champion in sailing. I enjoy Buddhist meditation.