An interview with Maddy Wald – a new face at Max Hardy Consulting!
Max: Hi Maddy. Great to have you as part of the team. Tell us a bit about your career thus far? Where have you studied and worked for instance?
Maddy: I’ve had a lot of jobs! I studied a Bachelor of Arts at Melb Uni and spent my 20s working in retail, hospitality and nannying. Then I wandered off to Vietnam as a TESOL teacher for a bit to mix things up. In hindsight, working in those four industries gave me a strong skill set for working with all kinds of personalities in community engagement!
In my mid-20s I studied Health Promotion and got a Graduate role in Merri Health’s Community Wellbeing program area which was heaps of fun. After a couple of years there, I moved over to a local Council that I’d already been collaborating with at Merri Health, so I got to keep working with the same community. And now I’m here working as a consultant for the first time.
Max: When did you start officially with me as a Max Hardy Consulting employee?
Maddy: I started working with you in January this year, but (I think like most people since covid) I have no sense of whether it’s been a long or short time!
Max: Prue and I met you when we were doing a project for a Council you worked at. You were our client. How difficult were we to work with?
Maddy: Somebody’s fishing… but I’ll bite: you guys were dreamboats! You brought confidence, experience and good humour to an ambitious project.
Max: While starting off part-time you’ve been doing a course in User Experience design. Tell us about that and how it might relate to community engagement practice?
Maddy: I’m finding there’s a lot of overlap between Community Engagement and UX Design. Both of them require us to put aside our assumptions and knowledge (and maybe pride) about being “experts” and ask everyday people to explain how something works for them. So often a website user or community member will bring an insight that’s completely out of left field when I really thought I’d read them right. I like being exposed to so many perspectives, and then figuring out how to reconcile them as best we can.
Max: Much of your previous work has been in the field of Health Promotion. How might that relate to community engagement work?
Maddy: I can’t really see life without the Health Promotion lens, even though it’s been a couple of years since I’ve worked in the sector. I think everything in life impacts our health and wellbeing, and it’s great that Victorian governments and organisations are understanding and embracing that. Being able to meaningfully participate in public life plays a big factor in our health and happiness. It’s been especially rewarding in the last 2 years, hearing from some community members who feel they would’ve faced too many barriers to participation if it weren’t for virtual methods like Zoom workshops.
Max: Thinking ahead; it’s 2025. You have achieved plenty and feeling very pleased with yourself and what you have contributed at MHC. Tell us what you’ve achieved and contributed? (asking for a friend)
Maddy: Hmm, I think it would feel really great to be part of setting a new standard for accessible engagement. In previous projects, you and I have worked with community members to identify their needs for meaningful participation, and often it doesn’t take much work, just a bit of thought, to meet those needs. I think combining these experiences and having an ongoing dialogue with community members with diverse needs will help us improve in that area.
Max: What have been some of the highlights of working with MHC?
Maddy: Having grown up in Melbourne, and living in the inner suburbs, I’ve really enjoyed working with communities in regional parts of Victoria. It’s great to understand the priorities and concerns of communities in places that I’ve either only been to as a tourist, or might not have ever visited before.
Oops hang on – the real highlight is working with the man, the myth, the legend: Max Hardy! Just kidding, it’s a tie between you and Prue.
Max: A bit early to chasing an early pay-rise, but good try! Great having you on board.
Maddy: Been loads of fun and very productive already!
Worth a shot! Thanks Max.