Dr Timothea Turnbull is Program Manager, Strategic Partnership at College of Asia and the Pacific connecting researchers with a wide range of partners across government, business and the not-for-profit sector.
She shares with us what she loves about this city, her job, and the importance of family support as she welcomed baby Alice into her life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Canberra and couldn't wait to leave when I was 17 to study, live and work in France, Switzerland, Spain and Sydney for almost 15 years. But when I did finally come back, I ended up falling in love with my home town, with all its bike paths, public libraries and amazing eateries. What I appreciate most is the 20 minute rule - everything I need is only ever 20 minutes away (and most of the time, that's by bike too!).
What do you love about Canberra?
As a card-carrying politics geek, the answer is of course, Parliament House - what goes on inside it, but also the building itself and the fabulous art and objects collection. I spent one summer trawling through Hansard at the Parliamentary Library as a Summer Scholar and it was such a highlight. The fan-girl moments were unreal, such as seeing Pat Dodson, Laura Tingle, Adam Goodes and Kristina Keneally wander past during morning teas in the staff canteen or at the coffee cart.
What is it like juggling between motherhood, work and a million other things?
My whole life changed last year in the last week of June... in one incredible week, I submitted my PhD thesis with the Bell School, found out we were pregnant, and convened my first undergraduate course - an intensive course in Australian foreign policy. Since then, I have taken up some incredible opportunities with the College, from managing the CAP Research Services team for 8 months to working with the Strategic Partnerships team on some incredible projects. And in between, having our little girl Alice.
I could not have done any of this without the support of my husband and family. We all look after Alice on a rotating basis in between everyone's busy lives, but it is easier than it sounds. Increased flexibility for parents and carers in the Public Service and at ANU is truly game-changing. So we all get the best of both worlds - doing jobs we love and watching Alice grow up.
What attracted you to take up Program Manager, Strategic Partnership at CAP?
I am a huge advocate for CAP as I have seen first-hand the dedication, passion and talent of our scholars who are changing the world through their ideas. I have also seen first-hand that this is matched in equal parts by the College and School teams, which underpin our research and teaching efforts. Within the Strategic Partnerships team, those two worlds - academics and professional staff — work seamlessly together. It’s an absolute privilege to see all the initiatives that Nich, Britt and Lucy have built come to life, so I leapt at the chance to help out with their efforts when I came back in May this year.
How has your experience in business consultancy and academia guide your work today?
I would say the one constant across the very different operating environments I have worked in is being hyper organised. More importantly, working with people who you admire and who you respect — regardless of what it is you are doing — is the most important, maybe the only thing, which leads to job satisfaction and fulfilment. Regardless of your job title, or your team name, or even the organisation you work for, any job can be the right job if you are working with great people!
What is your favourite place to eat in Canberra?
My husband Steve has embraced Ottolenghi's Simple cookbook, so I would say in my kitchen! (We don't get out much with an 8-month old at home). Honorable mention to Bittersweet Cafe on Green Square in Kingston, which is our second home since having Alice - all the parent's groups flock there during the week.
Dr Timothea Turnbull graduated with PhD in multilateral diplomacy at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs in July 2019.