Mark Alcock


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Mark AlcockProject Leader, Law of the Sea Project and Marine Surveys Data Management Systems Project

Describe some daily tasks which you complete in your position

My day to day work is varied due to the nature of the Law of the Sea Project (LOS). This project has been underway for nine years and has both scientific and legal components. Due to this, I spend some days writing scientific papers, and others I spend writing and interpreting legal information. In my current role, I spend a large amount of time talking and sharing knowledge with international teams, as well as regularly flying to New York where Geoscience Australia's legal submission is being assessed. Of course all this also requires planning and administration, so there is no escape from the normal tasks of running a project such as budgeting and managing staff and resources.

What is it that you find most enjoyable/challenging/rewarding about your position?

I thoroughly enjoy the collaborative nature of the work that I do as a Geoscience Australia staff member. I work with people with very different backgrounds, both from within the organisation and from other agencies. This project is about changing the shape of Australia's continental shelf boundaries which is an amazing goal of national significance.

Describe your career pathway(s) that led you to where you are today?

I started at Geoscience Australia in 1992, working as an observer on a research vessel, monitoring the systems that collect data.

After about 18 months, I moved up the chain to become a Quality Control Scientist, supervising a number of observers, and developing the acquisition systems that collect the data. I worked on this vessel for six years, spending about half of each year at sea. This was pretty good work for a guy in his 20s, lots of travel and adventure, good pay with additional leave for going to sea, but after six years I was ready for a change. As the agency ceased to operate the vessel at this time, I was in the position to make a choice. I had job offers in the commercial world doing more of the same, but a number of interesting opportunities existed within Geoscience Australia, and the definition of Australia's outermost maritime jurisdiction zone, the continental shelf, was one of them. This fitted in exactly where I wanted to go.

Mark Alcock

It drew on the scientific knowledge that I had acquired over the previous six years, added to work on a complex legal and diplomatic problem in collaboration with other agencies. This was particularly important to me as I enjoyed the collaborative aspects of work and wished to undertake scientific activities that had an impact for the nation.

I have remained in the LOS project for the last nine years, working on the preparation of Australia's submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). I was part of Australia's delegation that presented the submission and continue to support it through the Commission process. I have been the project leader of the LOS project for the last two years.

What formal/educational training have you completed?

BAppSc (geology) from University of Canberra and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies (Environmental Law) from ANU.

What are the benefits of working at Geoscience Australia?

The main reason I continue to work at Geoscience Australia is that the work is interesting, challenging and makes a difference to the country. After all, how many people get the chance of changing the shape of the country?

Apart from the LOS work itself, the range of skills that the agency has at its disposal is enormous, so that when special tasks come along that require people from different projects to come together, the work is always challenging and stimulating.

Topic contact: Last updated: June 17, 2013