Expressing a passion for regulation

So you work in an area that regulates some part of government activity. It could be an industry, the environment, broadcasting. Whatever it is, you love the work. It suits your skills and temperament, and you’re good at it.

You decide to seek a promotion in another area, also in regulation. At interview the panel invites you to explain your interest in the role. What do you say?

An article by Mark Pearson, director of Ethos CRS and previously the deputy CEO of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, may help. As he points out, regulatory policy is more than cutting red tape.

During 2019 government regulatory authorities did not cover themselves in glory. Pearson spends much of the article cataloguing many of the regulatory disasters, including buildings, banks and water.

The writer points out:

“Societies have good reasons for regulation: to make the community safe; to deter frauds and spivs and shysters; to protect the environment; to protect consumers; to facilitate the operation of markets and limit anti-competitive practice. These reasons will not disappear, and neither will regulators.”

If your passion is regulation, them this paragraph may provide the gems for your response. Based on your research, you may wish to make the community safer by improving regulation or compliance in a certain area. Or deter unlawful behaviour. Or protect a part of the environment or a certain group of consumers who are particularly vulnerable.

Pearson then goes on to list some key principles about regulation, including whether a regulatory authority has the authority, power, or regulatory framework to carry out its work and ensure compliance. Perhaps you want to work on regulatory policy to increase the power of a regulator to improve compliance.

Another principle Pearson mentions is that “because regulation very often requires detailed understanding of complex scientific, technical or financial matters, good regulators are hard to find and hard to keep. Capricious action by governments can damage the ability of regulators to do good work. In a perfect world, for example, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority would have remained intact and staffed with experts in Canberra.” Another reason for working in regulation may be because you bring relevant knowledge and understanding that will help improve regulation and its application, or ensure that there is no fall-off in that knowledge.

Another reason for working in regulation is to provide robust risk assessment. Pearson points out that regulators must “focus on danger, damage and harm by adopting a risk-based approach” so if this is your strength, it may fuel your passion.

Pearson closes by saying: “Finally, take courage and don’t compromise on what is right. Use the resources and powers defined in law to make Australia a safer and better country.” Your passion may also be fuelled by high levels of integrity, an unwillingness to bend when what is right is clear.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.