My recent decision to resign as Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has been a difficult one for a variety of reasons.
Foremost in such influences has been the fact that for two decades, since December 1997, AIATSIS has been the central feature of my life and career and it has been difficult to imagine a life beyond AIATSIS.
For 15 of the past 20 years I have been the Principal and more recently the CEO of AIATSIS. Even during the period 2003 to 2009 when I worked elsewhere, I maintained an association with AIATSIS as a member, as an elected member of our Research Advisory Committee and through various other interactions and relationships. So my association with AIATSIS since 1997 has been continuous and extremely rewarding.
However, consideration of my age as well as my personal immediate and longer term family related aspirations have combined to convince me that this difficult decision is both timely and appropriate.
This is undoubtedly an exciting yet challenging stage in the institutional life of AIATSIS. Much has been achieved over recent times and we can all be very proud of such progress however there remain various strategic challenges ahead. Accordingly I feel that a change in position of the CEO, bringing fresh ideas and innovative thinking, is what is required to assist in setting the future direction and providing the managerial leadership and capability required for the future.
As I recorded in my formal letter of resignation to Council, I have enjoyed every moment and aspect of my involvement and time spent with AIATSIS, as both its last Principal and inaugural CEO. I have greatly valued and benefitted from the continued solid support shown to me by our Council, our committees, our members and of course our dedicated and loyal staff.
In this context, I particularly wish to express my deep professional and personal appreciation to the Chairperson, Professor Dodson and to every Council member, present and past, for the guidance, support and indeed the friendship afforded to myself, and to my wife Judi, during the entire period of our association. For this I am truly grateful.
It is also important that I acknowledge the support a most capable and committed Deputy CEO, the Executive Directors of Research and Collections and our senior management team who have all supported me in providing the leadership to an amazing AIATSIS workforce of enthusiastic, talented and committed people.
I must also acknowledge and say thank you to all the AIATSIS members, supporters, advocates and partners with whom I have had the pleasure of working with through the years. This includes those who have been able to visit us here at AIATSIS as well as those who I have met through my travels both nationally and internationally – communities, community organisations, institutions, ministers and other parliamentary staff, fellow public servants; all of you – without your support, belief and passion for the work of AIATSIS, we would not be where we are today.
I am extremely thankful for the wonderful and rewarding opportunity given to me as the Principal/CEO since 2009 and during my previous tenure 1997 to 2003. I feel extremely privileged, as the outgoing CEO, to have been able to make a contribution to the sustainable development and future prosperity of AIATSIS.
I take this opportunity to wish AIATSIS continued success for the future and on behalf of both myself and my wife Judi I say thank you to all.
Russell Taylor AM