With the 2017 Rural Challenge on the horizon, we speak with Pamela Lee, General Manager, Council Business Services at the City of Mount Gambier.
Pamela has long background in successful change management and she speaks to us about her experiences in running change management projects within a metropolitan council as well as in her current role, at Mt Gambier.
Hi Pamela - thanks for sharing your experiences and ideas with us.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
General Manager, Council Business Services responsible for leadership and driving change and improvement across finance, customer service, strategic and business planning and performance reporting, rates, governance, administration, property, IT and knowledge management.
This is involving a focus on developing high performing people/teams, plans, systems and processes aligned to the strategic direction of the council, its Community Plan and supporting suite of strategic documents, engaging the elected members, stakeholder and enhancing its constructive culture and values.
Where were you before? What's your career path so far?
My career path may be viewed as diverse, unique and a little quirky/unusual. For me it is enriching, fulfilling and rewarding encompassing the private sector (banking, insurance, superannuation), federal, state and local governments and board appointments in the not for profit, education and university sectors.
My first position was in IT within the mining sector. Along the way I have completed a Bachelors Degree in Applied Economics, an MBA, post graduate studies in strategic management, governance, risk, and the Australian Institute of Company Directors course. I believe in and am committed to life long learning, developing and supporting colleagues
Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to in between leaving Tea Tree Gully and starting at Mount Gambier?
A combination of advisory, facilitative and strategic roles including:
- a 12 month contract as program director working with the Minister for Emergency Services and chiefs of the MFS, CFS and SES to facilitate a sector strategic plan with 21 priority strategies, establish a program management office and develop capacity and capacity in the PMO and senior leadership across the sector.
- a 15 month contract with the Dept. Treasury and Finance project managing the privatisation of SA’s compulsory third party insurance including overseeing the relationships with the four private sector insurer and ensuring they were productions, systems and operationally ready for 1 July 2016 ‘go live’ date.
- board membership.
You’ve been involved with quite a few change management projects. What are your top tips for leading through change?
As is reported in case studies, courses and change management literature, an unhealthy percentage of change projects and projects involving change don’t succeed.
In my experience change management success is contingent upon a clear and shared vision and scope, aligned and actively supportive leadership, resilience, accountability, the right people/subject matter experts, strong project and change (people side of change) management, comprehensive risk management, stakeholder engagement and communications. Celebrating and acknowledging team effort and successes. And the value adding post implementation / project review / close out report objectively documenting project outcomes, benefits, capturing and sharing the learnings.
How do you quickly become part of a new team?
I have had an amazing opportunity at both the Cities of Tea Tree Gully and Mount Gambier to be appointed as part of a new senior executive team following organisational restructures.
This presents a unique and exciting opportunity to grow, develop and experience together as a team. In my experience this has delivered greater levels of synergy, momentum and outcomes than might otherwise have occurred including: building resilience and collaboration, driving change and business improvement, innovation and cultural development and impact.
Fundamental for me is investing in the new team particularly getting to know, understand and spend quality time with my peers; being affiliative, humanistic, encouraging, maintaining personal integrity; understanding and drawing upon the strengths of your peers.
What are your observations on the differences between working for a metro and regional council?
Having four months in my new role at the City of Mount Gambier and aside from the obvious differences in profile (size, access to funding, services, training, talent pool, economic and community drivers) I’ve observed a heightened sense of community one would expect to see in rural and regional areas/councils, resilience and tenacity, the community looking to the council for leadership particularly to drive / lead / facilitate economic development.
What is the thing you like most about working as a General Manager in local government?
Leading strategic direction and alignment, driving innovation and continuous improvement, developing people and organisational capability and capacity, transparency and drawing upon better practice governance thereby optimising customer and stakeholder engagement, delivering on endorsed vision, strategies, public value and service outcomes.