020: Why Complexity And Procurement Can Go Hand In Hand with Sharon Bailey

Episode 20: Why Complexity And Procurement Can Go Hand In Hand with Sharon Bailey

Have you ever considered how procurement approaches have evolved to tackle the intricacies of our modern world? It’s time to challenge the common assumption that procurement acts as a blocker rather than an enabler. In fact, there’s a remarkable alignment between procurement and complexity, where context, active listening, and engagement pave the way for exceptional outcomes.

In this episode of Thriving in Complexity, my guest is Sharon Bailey, the Chief Procurement Officer of the Queensland government. Sharon is not your typical head of government procurement and brings a diversity of experience and fresh perspectives to the table. From her early days as a social worker to her current role, Sharon has a deep understanding of how to achieve the best procurement outcomes in complex situations.

During our interview, Sharon opens up about typical procurement challenges and how to tackle them. Whether it’s commissioning infrastructure projects for the highly anticipated Brisbane 2032 or providing vital services to support individuals experiencing vulnerability, she offers diverse strategies to help you commission what is needed for the context.

Join us as we delve deeper into the fascinating world where procurement and complexity intertwine, guided by the expertise of Sharon Bailey. She challenges the misconception that the procurement team is out to stifle your flexibility and adaptability in the face of emerging situations. 

Get ready to unlock the true potential of procurement in this thought-provoking episode of Thriving in Complexity with Sharon Bailey


  • Religion – how it influences life and career (01:50)
  • How becoming a social worker helped Sharon in her career (04:10)
  • Understanding the complexity of people’s experience (07:24)
  • Sharon’s ultimate advice to women in caring professional roles (09:17)
  • The importance of being comfortable with ambiguity (12:47)
  • The perennial challenge in the procurement space (14:16)
  • Probity, transparency, and best value for money (17:21)
  • Two step procurement processes (21:32)
  • Common myths about government procurement (25:56)
  • Early market engagement and de-risking (28:06)
  • Managing defaults in a complex situation (30:46)
  • Sharon’s advice to her 25-year-old self (35:46)


“Being comfortable with ambiguity is a real asset.” – Sharon Bailey

“Listen and engage is critical to just about any endeavour in life.” -Sharon Bailey

“Don’t take the first no as the ‘no’, keep asking curious questions.” -Susanne Le Boutillier

Related episode: 018: The Power of Activating People in Complex Situations with Max Hardy

Email: sharon.bailey@epw.qld.gov.au

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Sharon is currently the Deputy Director-General, Queensland Government Procurement, Department of Energy and Public Works and is responsible for the Whole of Government Procurement Policy Framework and associated functions (data, analytics, capability development).  In addition, Sharon has responsibility for the category management of General Goods and Services (including PPE) and management of the Government fleet.  Sharon rejoined the Queensland Government in April 2019 and brings extensive economic and social policy experience.  Prior to that, she spent 7 years with the Australian Government undertaking corporate and policy roles within the Department of Social Services.  This followed numerous roles across the Queensland Government, including the Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Public Works and Families and Communities.