This month we speak with Alan Harvey, Manager Engineering Services at the Alexandrina Council.
Alan explains the key challenges he faces in the upcoming 12 months in this role. Alan is also a mentor for Alexandrina's team in the Management Challenge - so he shares his experience in mentoring the team and also speaks about the benefits of involvement in the program.
Hi Alan, thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
I look after Engineering Services at Alexandrina Council, which maintains, renews and builds the majority of the Council’s assets. This includes roads, footpaths, stormwater, parks, reserves, buildings, biodiversity areas and coastal and riverfront.
Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
I have worked in private and public sector organisations in three different countries over the last 25 years. Starting straight from school at 17, this has allowed me to experience a range of functions such as civil engineering, traffic management, transportation planning, along with project and contract management.
What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
From very early on in my career I have worked in local government. I started in the UK and then moved back to Australia. Whilst this has been interspersed with private sector work, I have always enjoyed delivering outcomes for communities which make a difference in people’s everyday lives.
What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
Whilst I still enjoy making a difference within the communities I work, I have found that I get a lot of satisfaction from supporting and developing the people I work with. I am lucky that my current role allows me to make that kind of difference with my colleagues.
Speaking about your current role – Manager Engineering Services, Alexandrina Council. What are the main challenges you will face in the coming year? What new challenges do you face with the increase in developments?
The Alexandrina district is an area of continuing growth, with new housing and infrastructure being added and planned for every year. Engineering Service’s challenge year to year is to balance the expectations of the community against the money available when maintaining the assets they use daily.
You are a mentor (for the second time) for this year's Australasian Management Challenge. What value do you think participants (and councils) get from being involved in the Management Challenge?
The Management Challenge is a unique opportunity for individuals to learn more about themselves and others in a safe environment. The process of bringing people who have never worked together in to a team is extremely powerful. In my view the Council acquires more rounded, informed and emotionally mature employees.
What learnings can be ‘brought back’ and put into practice every day?
What the participants and mentors of the Management Challenge bring back into their workplace is varied. Each person has a different journey and therefore obtains different experiences and learnings. For our team it was anything from time management to collaborative working to leadership style adaptation.
What other comments would you like to make about the Management Challenge and its relevance to leadership and teamwork development?
In my view the value of the Management Challenge is not necessarily what happens on the day, but the lead up to that day. In local government we do not often get the opportunity to work outside of our work areas and collaborate with people from across the organisation. If you get the opportunity to participate, go for it - the result will surprise you!
How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
With two active teenagers my wife and I spend most of our time running them around to their after school and weekend activities. In my other free time I am a School Governor, representative for my son’s soccer club and a karate instructor.