This month we speak with Merissa Decelis, Business Engagement Analyst at the City of Charles Sturt.
A graduate of a number of LG Professionals, SA Programs, Merissa speaks about her experience of attending the Management Challenge and the Emerging Leaders Program - and how all the LG Professionals, SA programs 'knit together'. She also reflects on the skills needed for her role and her plans for the future.
Hi Merissa, thanks for speaking with us.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
I am currently working as a Business Engagement Analyst within the Information Services portfolio. My role is to essentially act as the primary point of contact between the Portfolios and Information Services.
This involves facilitating the identification of technology, system and business challenges, identifying, defining and implementing improvements, communicating the priorities and future direction of the IS Portfolio to the business and managing projects across the business.
Where were you before? What is your work background/career path so far?
I started at the City of Charles Sturt as the Information Services Trainee straight out of high school! I did 14 months at the City of Mitcham in their Records team following my traineeship and have been back at the City of Charles Sturt since 2006.
I have had a number of roles in the Information Management team and was lucky enough to have an opportunity to work as a Community Development Officer in our Cheltenham Community Centre for two months last year before winning my current position.
What attracted you to local government and your role?
I honestly didn’t know a lot about local government when I got my traineeship. It didn’t take me long to appreciate the diverse range of career opportunities that I could pursue.
My current role was attractive to me for a couple of reasons: Firstly, it enabled me to interact with different parts of the business and continue to develop my knowledge of local government and, secondly, it was something new that would challenge me and force me out of my comfort zone.
What key skills do you think are important for success in your role?
In my current role, having good organisational skills are essential for me to be successful as I am managing a diverse group of portfolios as well as projects. Given the range of areas and tasks I am required to cover, it is really important that I can be flexible and prioritise my tasks.
A flow on from that is being a really good communicator and ensuring that I am keeping my portfolios up to date with how tasks are going, as well as keeping the Information Services staff in the loop with what is happening within the business.
How have LG Professionals, SA programs contributed to helping you develop some of these skills?
There are definitely elements from all of the programs I have participated in that have helped develop these skills. The self-awareness, insight into my preferred working style and experience with working in a large and diverse group that I gained from the Emerging Leaders Program have definitely aided me in working across such a diverse range of portfolios, with very different needs and priorities.
Participating and mentoring in the Management Challenge allowed me to become more comfortable with not being in control and being able to plan my work day. Developing the ability to be flexible and juggle priorities has been really beneficial in being able to do my current role.
All programs have allowed me to continue to build my communication skills and I have definitely picked up some tips and techniques from facilitators and other participants.
Looking back/reflecting on your own professional development, what are the most valuable programs you’ve participated in through LG Professionals, SA? Why?
While I have found all of the programs to be really beneficial, I think participating in the Management Challenge was the most valuable for me.
I participated quite early on in my career and the confidence, experience and exposure I gained from participating was invaluable. I still draw on those learnings to this day.
The relationships that I built during that time, both internally and externally, have had a huge impact on me both personally and professionally.
Could you comment on the way the whole series of programs you've been through with LG Professionals, SA ‘fits together’ to create a long term learning and development experience?
For me the series of programs have been a perfect fit for the varying stages of my career. Starting off with participating in the Management Challenge gave me a great insight into the local government sector. The Emerging Leaders Program involves a lot of self-reflection and self-learning and sharing that experience with such a large and diverse group prepared me to put my hand up to mentor the challenge team.
The relationships I have built through the LG Professionals, SA programs have been so important and I am now a member of the Women’s Network and really enjoying working with the group.
What does the future hold for you? In terms of planning, career wise, where do you see yourself in the future?
I wish I knew!! I’m really lucky to work in an organisation that is so supportive and has given me so many opportunities. I am really enjoying my current role and how it is pushing and challenging me every day.
As for the distant future, I am slowly working my way through a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) so ultimately I see my future working in or with the sport and recreation industry – in what capacity, I am still undecided but I have a keen interest in junior development and player welfare.
Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
Outside of work I enjoy travelling – I am off to Mexico and North America next year, reading a good book, and I am loving the warmer weather and going for a walk at the beach!
Uni takes up a fair bit of my spare time during the year too. I am a huge sport fan so I also spend a lot of time watching a variety of sports.