some careers just don’t have a clear path.

If you met Michael Payne, you would understand why his professional journey has been one off the beaten track. Whether cycling across Europe, working with universities around the globe or creating a clothing line - Michael has always been led by curiosity and a sense of purpose.

One thing always remained unchanged: throughout his years of experience in various roles across the public and private sectors, his goal has been giving back to the community.

Over the last year, Michael has been partnering with Randstad to find meaningful contract work as a policy officer. A job with no clear career path to it for an outside looker it’s been a perfect space for Michael to apply his academic knowledge and humanitarian interests. With a background in law, social sciences, sports sciences and a master of political sciences, it’s hard to put Michael’s professional profile in a box.

but the reason behind his academic choices gives a great perspective into his relationship with work: curiosity.


A photo of Michael Payne
A photo of Michael Payne
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I picked all my degrees not because I wanted to follow a specific career plan but out of interest in the subject. My professor at Philadelphia University was the person who guided me down the path of behavioural sciences and told me about people with a curiosity-type personality. These are the people who always want to know more about the world around them and always try to look at many ways to do things.


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naturally, policy work is where the curious minds thrive.

  • Carrying out research
  • Scenario planning
  • Strategy development
A photo of Michael Payne
A photo of Michael Payne
These activities require a deep understanding of how policy affects individuals and the world. For Michael, this is where his interest in behavioural science came through.
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How you look at policy and how it’s developed to serve its target audiences is not dissimilar to how you engage audiences of different age groups and explore different channels in multimedia. Looking at how things have been done before and asking, ‘what’s the better way of doing it?’. After the Commonwealth identifies an area where it needs to have some degree of influence, my role is to go and ask the state ‘where the Commonwealth’s responsibility is? Where does it add value? Is it in a policy space? Is it financial? Is it legislative?

the beauty of working as a policy officer, for people who appreciate variety, is that the projects are all different.

In his work, Michael has been carefully selective about which contracts to go for and where his input would be better suited and help to better the world.

A photo of Michael Payne
A photo of Michael Payne

"Recently, I completed a contract with Randstad working at National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) on the Indigenous employment policy. I was interested in it, as that is an area where I have a passion. Because I am in a position of privilege, I am trying to work with people who have a disadvantage and look at ways we can get more equity in that space."


Understanding people’s ‘why’ behind their work is how we continue to help them realise their full potential with Randstad.

Michael was evident in his purpose from the start of his journey.

A photo of Michael Payne
A photo of Michael Payne
"When I had my initial conversation with Hank, my recruitment consultant at Randstad, he explained the range of opportunities I could take on, but he also asked about the areas where I had an interest. I am in a fortunate position - money is not the main reason for my work."
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I want to work where I can continue to make a difference.

Michael Payne

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