Management by walking around the office is a familiar concept. But rarely do bosses of major organisations take things to another level and walk in the shoes of their teams and employees. Not so, Steffen Faurby, the new boss of Sydney Ferries.

When Steffen Faurby ran the state transit authority, he got himself a bus driver’s licence. At Sydney Ferries, he worked on board with the deck crew. As the new head of TAFE NSW, he is now studying to be a course trainer.

It’s not that he needed the extra qualifications or another job option to fall back on. At the beginning of the year he signed a five-year contract that pays him $167,000 more than the Premier’s annual pay packet.

The aim of the training was to get a view from the coalface of the organisations he led.

“It’s to really understand what we do at the frontline,” he says. “I did things that would allow me to understand what it’s like to work for the organisation I lead.”

It’s refreshing to see a senior manager acknowledge the distance that a senior position can create between themselves and the front line.

“There’s always a risk when you move into more senior leadership positions that you can become disconnected from the day-to-day operations of your business.

“Whether it’s getting a bus licence, spending time with ferry crew and deck hands, or understanding what it’s like to be a teacher or a student, I personally think it leads to better and more informed decision-making when I spend time directly in the operational heart of the business.”