Senior Executive Service (SES) Pitch Writing

SES Pitch Writing

The definitive guide to transforming your pitch from executive level bands to senior executive bands.

By Jacquie Liversidge

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The difference between Executive Level 2 (EL2) and Senior Executive Service Band 1 (SESB1) is a big one. 

If you’re at the EL2 level presently, and you are looking to make the leap, then we probably don’t need to explain how to write a pitch that focuses on your actions and your output, because you will be quite practiced in that by this stage.


The key difference between EL and SES:

To really harness this difference in language, you need to move away from operational activities and focus on the influence, the hurdles, how you overcome resistance, how you won buy-in, your interactions at the ministerial level, your ability to use the cogs of government to get outcomes. 

This is the major weakness we see in most clients who have come to us after falling short of achieving an interview after multiple SES rounds.

A made-up EL2 example paragraph:

I led the joint operations command team, comprising of 47 direct reports, to establish Australia’s first remote submarine emergency base. In the development of the base, I collaborated with at-level stakeholders and received my direction from executives. I led strategic planning meetings and vetted the final strategic document to guide the establishment of the base. I set project deliverable timelines, and coached and mentored my team to empower them to autonomously achieve key project components forming the overarching deliverable. Valued at $3M AUD, I played a lead role in achieving the emergency base on time and under budget.

Now this here is a good example of leadership, empowering teams, achieving results, etc. that might form part of a pitch.

The same example transformed into SES1:

I played a lead role in achieving the $3M AUD key Defence strategic deliverable of Australia’s first remote submarine emergency base. I leveraged my relationships at the state, federal, and territory government levels to overcome critical setbacks and hurdles, and to win buy-in from parties and stakeholders who opposed the project on the basis that there could be a negative impact. I met with state and territory ministers and pitched the important value propositions of a regional dispersion of increased skill workers at location, and met with industry to dispel incorrect prevailing views held about impacts to their operations. I represented government for media on-site and delivered the cabinet briefing. The deliverable, achieved under budget and within time frame, would not have been achieved were these critical resistance points not addressed, and buy-in not won.

Both stories are true. Well, they’re not, because I made that up. But all stories have a number of different ways that they can be approached. And this is called narrative building. 

We tend to want to focus on more of these EL2 capabilities when we write our applications because it’s comfortable. 

Operational language is much more comfortable to write about because it’s easier. You don’t have to navigate explaining building a relationship with an awkward or resistant party so much when you’re focusing on the operations. But these capabilities are exactly what we want to focus on for our SES applications.

Role responsibilities of an Executive Level 2:

The EL2 role in many government agencies represents a senior management position, typically overseeing a team or division within the organisation. The responsibilities can vary significantly depending on the specific department, but here are some general key responsibilities that an EL2 might have:

1. Strategic Leadership:

  • Developing and implementing strategic plans, goals, and objectives that align with the organisation’s mission and vision.
  • Providing mentorship and guidance to team members to foster professional growth and ensure alignment with organisational values

2. Project and Program Management:

  • Leading complex projects or programs, ensuring they are delivered on time, within budget, and meet quality standards.
  • Overseeing the management of resources, large budgets, risks, and stakeholder relationships.

3. Policy Development and Implementation:

  • Leading the development and review of policies and procedures.
  • Ensuring that policies are implemented in compliance with relevant legislation and best practices.

4. Financial Management:

  • Managing budgets and resources efficiently, including forecasting, planning, and reporting.
  • Ensuring financial accountability and compliance with financial regulations.

5. Stakeholder Engagement and Communication:

  • Building and maintaining relationships with various stakeholders, including other government agencies, private sector, non-profit organisations, and the public.
  • Communicating effectively, both internally and externally, to promote transparency and collaboration.

6. Human Resources Management:

  • Leading, managing, and motivating a team of middle managers, including recruitment, performance management, and professional development.
  • Contributing to organisational cultural changes.

7. Decision Making and Problem Solving:

  • Making informed decisions that are aligned with organisational strategies.
  • Analysing complex issues and developing innovative solutions to address challenges.

8. Compliance and Risk Management:

  • Ensuring that all activities are conducted in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and standards.
  • Identifying and managing risks to mitigate potential negative impacts on the organisation.

9. Innovation and Continuous Improvement:

  • Encouraging a culture of innovation and continuous improvement within the team or division.
  • Implementing new processes or systems to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

10. Public Relations and Representation:

  • Representing the organisation at public events, conferences, or meetings.
  • Managing the public image and reputation of the organisation or division.

Role responsibilities of a Senior Executive Service Band 1:

SESB1 positions are significant leadership roles within government organisations. While responsibilities can vary based on the specific department or agency, key responsibilities for an SES Band 1 typically include:

1. Strategic Direction and Policy Leadership:

  • Setting the strategic direction for a division or an entire department, aligning with the broader government objectives.
  • Leading the development, implementation, and review of policies to ensure they meet legislative and societal needs.

2. High-Level Stakeholder Engagement:

  • Building and maintaining relationships with diverse stakeholders, including government officials, industry leaders, community representatives, and international counterparts.
  • Effectively communicating and negotiating with stakeholders to achieve organisational goals.

3. Executive Management and Decision Making:

  • Making high-level decisions that impact the direction and success of the organisation.
  • Overseeing risk management, ensuring the identification and mitigation of risks that could affect organisational performance.

4. Program and Project Oversight:

  • Providing executive oversight for major projects and programs, ensuring alignment with strategic objectives, budget compliance, and successful delivery.
  • Monitoring and evaluating program and project performance, making necessary adjustments to enhance effectiveness.

5. Financial Stewardship:

  • Overseeing financial management, including budgeting, forecasting, reporting, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.
  • Ensuring the efficient allocation of resources to achieve organisational goals.

6. Leadership and People Management:

  • Leading and inspiring large teams, promoting a positive organisational culture, and ensuring professional development opportunities.
  • Managing senior staff, ensuring effective performance management and succession planning.

7. Governance and Compliance:

  • Ensuring that all organisational activities comply with relevant laws, regulations, and standards.
  • Contributing to the governance structures within the organisation, including serving on boards or committees.

8. Innovation and Continuous Improvement:

  • Fostering an environment that encourages innovation, continuous improvement, and excellence.
  • Leading organisational change initiatives to enhance efficiency and responsiveness.

9. Representing the Organisation:

  • Representing the organisation at a national or international level, including public speaking engagements, meetings, and media appearances.
  • Acting as a spokesperson for the organisation on key issues.

10. Crisis Management and Response:

  • Leading and coordinating the organisation’s response to emergencies or crises, ensuring a timely and effective response.

SES Band 1 roles are critical to the leadership and direction of government organisations. They require a blend of strategic thinking, leadership acumen, political savvy, and a deep understanding of the complex governmental landscape.

Individuals in these roles must navigate multifaceted challenges and opportunities to lead their organisations effectively.


The main differences between an Executive Level 2 (EL2) position and a Senior Executive Service (SES) Band 1 position within government structures lie in their level of responsibility, influence, and scope of work. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

EL1 vs SESB1 scope and responsibility differences:

1. Responsibility Level:

  • EL2: Focuses on strategic leadership within a particular team, division, or project. This often includes managing complex tasks, policy implementation, and overseeing a specific area within the organisation.
  • SES Band 1: Operates at a higher executive level, often responsible for an entire department or agency. The role involves setting strategic direction, providing high-level leadership, and making decisions that affect the whole organisation.

2. Scope of Influence:

  • EL2: Focuses on strategic leadership within a particular team, division, or project. This often includes managing complex tasks, policy implementation, and overseeing a specific area within the organisation.
  • SES Band 1: Operates at a higher executive level, often responsible for an entire department or agency. The role involves setting strategic direction, providing high-level leadership, and making decisions that affect the whole organisation.

3. Complexity of Role:

  • EL2: The complexity in an EL2 role is significant but is usually confined to a particular subject matter or functional area, such as managing a particular project or leading a division.
  • SES Band 1: The complexity at this level is often higher, involving multifaceted challenges that require integrating different domains of expertise, managing conflicting interests, and navigating political landscapes.

4. Reporting Structure:

  • EL2: Typically reports to a senior executive within the department or agency, which may be an SES officer.
  • SES Band 1: Often reports directly to the head of the department or agency, such as the Secretary or Director-General, and may have direct access to ministers or other high-level government officials.

5. Remuneration:

  • EL2: Compensation is generally lower than that of an SES Band 1 position, reflecting the narrower scope and reduced level of responsibility.
  • SES Band 1: Compensation is higher, reflecting the broader scope of responsibility, influence, and complexity of the role.

6. Selection and Appointment Process:

  • EL2: The selection process may be rigorous but typically involves standard recruitment procedures within the organisation.
  • SES Band 1: The selection process is often more rigorous, involving higher-level scrutiny and may require approval from top government officials or ministers.

Questions to pose yourself for your SES pitch:

The very first thing that you should do when considering submitting an SES pitch is first determine whether you have the requirements for the role. The next step is to review the application upload preview to determine what file type is required. Then you should look at any candidate information packs or additional guides to ensure that your pitch matches the formatting requirements. Often times, the pitch content needs to be dropped into a text box.

The next thing you need to do is pose yourself some questions about the role, and about you. Here are some examples of great leading questions:

1. Understanding the Role and Organisation:

  • What are the core responsibilities and expectations of this SES Band 1 position?
  • How does this position align with the overall mission and goals of the department or agency?
  • What are the key challenges and opportunities facing this role and the organisation?

2. Matching Skills and Experience:

  • What are the core responsibilities and expectations of this SES Band 1 position?
  • How does this position align with the overall mission and goals of the department or agency?
  • What are the key challenges and opportunities facing this role and the organisation?

3. Stakeholder Engagement and Communication:

  • How do my past experiences demonstrate the competencies required for this position?
  • What specific examples can I provide to illustrate my leadership, strategic thinking, and decision-making abilities?
  • How have I led complex projects, policies, or programs in the past, and what were the outcomes?

4. Strategic Vision and Innovation:

  • What is my vision for this role, and how does it align with the organisation’s strategic direction?
  • How have I encouraged innovation and driven continuous improvement in my previous positions?
  • What strategies would I employ to lead organisational change or address specific challenges in this role?

5. Personal Qualities and Cultural Fit:

  • What personal qualities or values make me a strong fit for this position and the organisational culture?
  • How do my leadership style and approach align with the expectations and needs of this SES Band 1 role?
  • How have I demonstrated resilience, adaptability, and integrity in my professional career?

6. Financial and Resource Management:

  • How have I managed budgets, resources, and risk in previous roles to achieve strategic objectives?
  • What strategies would I employ to ensure financial stewardship and accountability in this role?

7. Potential Challenges and Objections:

  • What potential challenges or gaps in my experience might be raised, and how can I address them?
  • How can I articulate my potential to grow and adapt in areas where I may lack specific experience?

8. Authenticity and Passion:

  • Why am I passionate about this role, and what motivates me to pursue this SES Band 1 position?
  • How can I convey my genuine interest and commitment to the role and the broader mission of the organisation?

Pitch/application structure:

1. Introduction (10-15% of pitch):

  • Purpose: Clearly state the purpose of the pitch, identifying the specific SES Band 1 position you’re seeking.
  • Connection: Briefly highlight your connection to the role or organisation, providing context for your interest.
  • Overview: Provide an overview of your key qualifications, summarising what makes you a strong candidate.
  • Alignment: Briefly align your background and experience with the core responsibilities and challenges of the SES Band 1 role.

2. Inner body content (85 - 90%)

  • Demonstrate capabilities: Use succinct STAR structured stories in your responses.
  • Use space wisely: If you have a 600 word pitch, you will probably have enough space to focus on 2, possibly 3, stories. If you have 1000 words or 2 pages, you might fit in 5-6. Use this space well.
  • Use STAR: STAR is situation, task, action and result. This is the structure you want to use every time you demonstrate. It is our story-telling structure.

3. Call-to-action/closing statement (10%)

  • Not always required: Omit this if you want to focus on statements—your application won’t fall flat entirely for having missed a small component but having use this word count better used on demonstrating capabilities in the inner body content.
  • Drop additional information here: It might be a good space here, if you have the time, to drop any further short information important to the role. ie. “I bring a Negative Vetting 1 clearance”.
  • Encourage the reader to make an action: “Please feel free to contact me on the details contained herein for further information or to arrange an interview.” These statements give the pitch a final and finished feel.

We write these pitches, so if you’d like to take the hard work off yourself, feel free to fill in the quote form or give us a call to receive a quote.

Happy hunting.

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