Dr Heather Smith was appointed Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts in January 2016. She previously held the position of Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet since May 2013. Heather was responsible for innovation policy and public data policy and recently headed the Prime Minister's Taskforce on Innovation. In October 2013 she was appointed by Prime Minister Abbott as Australia's G20 Sherpa, a role she held during Australia's Presidency. Prior to this Heather had responsibility in the Department for economic, industry, infrastructure, environment and strategic policy matters in her role as Deputy Secretary Economic and Strategy.
From August 2010 to May 2013, Heather was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for the Americas and Africa, North Asia, international security issues, G20 and the international economy, and information technology issues. She also served as an advisory member of then Prime Minister Gillard's Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
Between February 2005 and August 2010, Heather was Deputy Director-General, Office of National Assessments (Australia's peak intelligence assessment agency) with responsibility, at various times, for North Asia, South Asia, the Pacific, transnational issues, international economic issues, corporate issues, and foreign intelligence coordination.
Between 2003–2005, Heather held positions at the Australian Treasury as General Manager, G20 and APEC Secretariat and General Manager, International Economy Division.
From 2000–2003, she was Assistant Director-General, International Economy Branch, Office of National Assessment.
Before joining the public service Heather was an academic working on North Asia at the Australian National University, holding various position from 1994–2000. She also worked at the Reserve Bank of Australia from 1988–1990.
Heather holds a Bachelor of Economics (First Class Honours) from the University of Queensland and a Masters and PhD in Economics from the Australian National University. She has been a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. In 2012, Heather completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.