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Just a year after Nous Group opened its Darwin office overlooking Stokes Hill Wharf with two employees, the team is about to welcome its seventh member.

In its first year in the Territory, the international management consultancy is quickly building a reputation with Northern Territory Government, community and business organisations.

“People come to us because we can help solve their problems,” says Emma White, the head of the Darwin office. “The feedback we’ve been getting is that we offer a refreshing approach, bringing discipline and rigour to tackling some major challenges.”

The numbers tell the story. Since it started in July 2019, the Darwin team has supported 11 clients, ranging from the NT departments of health and education to the Australian Federal Police, Charles Darwin University and Carpentaria Disability Services.

The work has been delivered in more than a dozen locations across the Territory, including Nhulunbuy, Katherine and Alice Springs.

Among the highlights of the first year have been working with the Territory Government to better connect with Federal counterparts, supporting a not-for-profit organisation to understand the demand caused by Covid-19, enabling a disability services provider to adapt to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and equipping a medical services provider to implement big change and improve monitoring and evaluation.

Nous is adept at bringing together stakeholders who might struggle to see eye to eye. Given historical experiences and cultural differences in the Territory, this role requires empathy coupled with a willingness to facilitate difficult conversations and embrace creative solutions.

“We are often engaged to bring conflicting parties together to have a constructive conversation, help solve problems and have a plan to go forward,” Emma says.

As a management consultancy with a national presence, Nous brings to the Territory a strong familiarity with the inner workings of the Federal Government. By understanding how national agencies and departments operate, including what drives decisions, Nous can support Territory organisations to get better outcomes for Territory citizens.

This task often involves data. By coupling public data with its own Data Assets Warehouse for Nous (DAWN), and then applying state-of-the-art analytical tools, Nous can derive insights that might otherwise prove elusive.

“Being part of an international organisation means our local team can reach out to a broad and deep network of experienced experts,” Emma says. “We can bring the best of Nous.” Emma says her team includes both career consultants and people with industry and sector experience and expertise in particular subjects.

“We have a good mix of local people and talent that we’ve brought in, with local recruits driving growth and bringing content knowledge and new ideas,” she says.

Between them, the team includes people with backgrounds in social policy and evaluation, as well as experience in managing large organisations. Emma brings 20 years of experience working on and off in Northern Australia.

Across her roles – which include Director General for Western Australia’s Department of Child Protection and Family Support – she has worked on leadership, public policy and stakeholder engagement challenges with Indigenous, government and other organisations.

Among her Darwin colleagues are Selina Swan, an Aboriginal woman from the Kimberly who has used her language and cultural skills in complex consultations, and Hichem Demortier, a charismatic Frenchman with experience in trouble spots around the world through his time at medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières.

Also on board are quantitative and qualitative analysis maestro Robert Sale, public policy specialist Katie Culross and problem solver Cameron McBroom, who is Wongai Yamatji from Western Australia.

Joining the team in October 2020 is Tom Leeming, a Nous Principal from Perth, who brings experience from the senior executive of the WA public service and earlier stints in Malawi and Rwanda.

“I’m really excited about helping clients in the NT tap into opportunities and tackle challenges at the frontier,” says Tom, who is moving with his wife and two children. “Outside of work I’m looking forward to exploring Kakadu, doing some camping and I want to learn how to fish as well.”

New arrivals and old hands have both embraced all Darwin has to offer. Several team members are regulars on the city’s bright orange scooters – for the pleasant breeze and valuable thinking time as well as transport – while others are keen patrons of the city’s thriving multicultural dining scene.

While Covid-19 has shaken much of the world over the past year, the Territory has remained largely unscathed. While debate may rage on the reason for the Territory’s success, it does present an opportunity as people from southern states contemplate work and leisure options up north.

“This can change the national narrative about the role of the Territory,” Emma says. “This is a great example of what the Territory has done well and can lay the groundwork for bigger and bolder things in the years ahead.”

And there is no doubt Nous will be ready and willing to help make it happen. TQ


Nous Group

Level 16/19 Smith St,

Darwin City NT 0800

(08) 9222 5260