Tri-Sector Careers

Based at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, my PhD research is focused the career development of individuals who concurrently work in industry, research and government.


Traditionally, organisations played a key role in the career development of their employees, who tended to remain with the one firm for a significant portion of their working life. However changing employment structures mean this is no longer the case, with individuals increasingly taking greater control over their own careers. This research seeks to better understand individuals who have developed tri-sector careers, concurrently working on a portfolio of different engagements in industry, research and government (or frequently cycling between them such that they never fully disconnect from a sector for a period of greater than 3 years). Drawing on boundaryless career theory and the intelligent career framework, the focus will be on the “ways of knowing” (why/how/whom) these individuals express in relation to their careers.

Research Questions
Why, how and with whom do individuals develop tri-sector careers?

1. Why do individuals develop tri-sector careers?

  • Why have they chosen this career path?
  • How do they define themselves?

2. How do individuals develop tri-sector careers?

  • What strategies and tools do they employ to develop and manage their careers?
  • What structural and agency factors have impacted on their development of a tri-sector career?

3. With whom do individuals develop tri-sector careers?

  • What networks and communities of practice do they tap into, and how do they engage with them?
  • What are the implications for organisations seeking to engage individuals with tri-sector careers?
Supervisory Panel

Professor Helen Sullivan (Chair)
Dean, College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP)
Australian National University

Professor Sue Stocklmayer AO
Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
Australian National University

Professor Bob Williamson
Department of Computer Science
University of Tübingen

Research Findings

Are you developing a tri-sector career? Or could you benefit from the skills that tri-sector professionals can bring? Building on my research, I’ve started building a Tri-Sector Hub, to connect tri-sector professionals to each other, and to organisations who can benefit from their skills. If you’re interested in hearing more about the research as it progresses, please subscribe below or visit the Tri-Sector Hub.