He’s studying, raising young children, responsible for administering a budget in the millions, and still finds the time to volunteer. Caitlin Ganter spoke to Ken Wilkinson about his juggling act
Ken Wilkinson is an expert at managing commitments. The 32-year-old has a demanding job with the Queensland Government’s Housing and Homelessness Service, is raising a young family, serves in the Navy Reserves, volunteers for Navy Cadets, and is completing an MBA at ACU.
A former Naval Navigator, Ken is now responsible for administering an annual budget worth over $100 million for community organisations to provide accommodation and support services for homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless.
“I’m quite stretched, but that’s how I like it,” he said. “I’ve had a diverse career, from defence to housing, but I always get personal satisfaction from the jobs I take on.”
With a Bachelor of Science under his belt from his Navy days, Ken felt he needed to formalise his management qualifications, and enrolled in the intensive-mode MBA at ACU’s Brisbane Campus.
“The ACU MBA is taught in intensive delivery mode, on the weekends, which is perfect for me and my need to juggle all my other commitments.
“With an ethical point of view it’s also perfectly focused for the type of work I do.”
As Program Support Manager, Ken handles budget and daily operations to keep the programs ticking over. He and his team are responsible for funding more than 240 non-government service providers and allocating every dollar of the budget to where it is most needed.
“I enjoy my job, knowing that we make a difference to people’s lives,” Ken said. “I’ve always had an interest in social justice, and I really believe resolving homelessness is critical to getting people socially included.
“One project I’m currently working on is the implementation of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, which will see the Australian and Queensland governments providing $284.6 million over five years to reduce homelessness in Queensland.”
Ken said that while completing an MBA alongside all his other commitments was demanding, he was already appreciating the benefits that formal training in management brings.
“The lecturers have been outstanding and the other students bring a great cross – section of experience,” he said. “The workload requires good time management, but it’s another worthwhile challenge.”
Ken entered the workforce at 17 when he joined the Navy as a Seamen Officer. He progressed to be a Navigator until he decided it was time to move on.
“I’d been in the Navy for nine years and my wife and I were thinking about settling down and having children,” he said. “I’d never even had a shore-based job up until then.”
After two years working in the United Kingdom, Ken and his wife returned to Australia, expecting their first child.
He began working with the Queensland Government and kept up his Navy ties by joining the Reserves and volunteering with the Cadets.
With an interest in social justice and passion for community, Ken continues to be an active Navy Reservist and volunteer with the Cadets.
“Cadets range from 12 to 20 years old, and it really is a fantastic youth development scheme. It gets them out and active in the community and promotes good citizenship,” he said.
“I get the chance to pass on my experience directly to these kids. We teach them to tie knots, to sail, and get involved in community events. Activities they wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to get involved in.”