This month we speak with Mark McShane, CEO of the City of Mt Gambier.
Mark tells us about how he sees Mt Gambier changing in the future, the challenges that lie ahead, and also reveals a particularly awkward "embarrassing moment"!
Hi Mark - thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
Currently CEO City of Mount Gambier. While South Australia’s largest regional City (26,000 people) the Council is reasonably small with approximately 130 staff and 11 Councillors.
The City is a “hole in the donut” council surrounded by the District Council of Grant, so geographically it is quite small.
Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
I was the Director of Corporate Services at the Port Adelaide Enfield Council and prior to that several human resources consulting roles in Sydney and overseas.
I previously worked in the south east in Kimberly Clark and knew the area well hence was attracted both to the opportunity of the role of CEO in local government and the location.
What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
Our city is reasonably small and the council has strong connectivity into many facets of the community and our efforts are very visible for example supporting major and minor events, community facilities and maintaining an exceptional level of public amenity through our parks and gardens a sports facilities.
Speaking about your current role - How do you think Mt Gambier will change during the next 10 years?
Like most regional centres particularly in South Australia we have a significant number of challenges both in the provision of community services, health and specialist medical facilities as well as maintaining economic prosperity.
Councils are becoming increasing important in delivering direct services to the community, we are either at the top or the bottom of the food chain – depending on your view! Funding and reaching the diverse range of people and needs in the City will be a challenge.
The City is very attractive with an affordable and excellent lifestyle (one traffic light to work in 3 minutes!) and I think over the next ten to twenty years it will be a preferred location for families seeking an alternative to large city living and for retirement migration.
What will be the biggest influences on those changes?
The City has to forge its own future and we are in the process of developing futures papers to chart our own direction.
While we may get some support from the State, perhaps a bit more now given the focus on regional development since the last state election, Council really needs to be the driving force in partnership with other stakeholders.
The growth in the regional economy with a focus on premium food and wine from a clean environment is a major selling point to the global market especially to China
As a result of these changes and influences - what will be the major challenges for Mt Gambier?
Ensuring all of our community are able to enjoy the benefits of living in the City. While many people outside of Mount Gambier consider it a prosperous place and in some cases it is, we have large pockets of disadvantage and a range of problems that you find in any city.
Maintaining the enviable lifestyle while the city grows will be a challenge. Capacity to finance the many demands from the community is and will be a major challenge
Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have been in this role for two and a half years so in five years time I see myself still in the position. There is never a shortage of challenges in the role and faced by the city.
What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
My appointment to this position was announced by the Mayor of Mount Gambier and picked up by the local media before I had a chance to formally notify my previous CEO and my staff.
My previous council's media monitoring system, managed by records management, picked up the “local government” news that featured my new appointment leading to some fancy footwork being needed to “kill” the news to allow time for proper announcements to my staff.
How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
This region is blessed with a spectacular coastline, mostly deserted; excellent wineries and many natural features all within half an hours drive.
My back gate opens to the Blue Lake and I never tire of walking the 4 kms around it.
We are also four and a half hours from Melbourne and Adelaide so it’s not far for a break. I would like more time but as the readers will know juggling a hectic work environment, home and leisure is a balancing act.