This month we spoke with Dayton Tahuri, Arboriculture and Biodiversity Field Supervisor at City of Marion, about his role, winning the Australasian Management Challenge and what's next for him.
How long have you been in local government and what is your role?
I started my first role in local government at City of Marion three years ago, starting as a Tree Maintenance Team Member and have recently moved into the Arboriculture and Biodiversity Field Supervisor role.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Commencing at 6:30 am, my day kicks off, with the primary task being to inspect for any emergency work due to after-hours calls, ensuring no trees or branches have fallen overnight. Additionally, I sift through emails, pinpointing tasks that require immediate attention.
Following this, it's time for a team briefing. These gatherings involve two Tree Teams, each consisting of three crew members and a Biodiversity Team with three members as well. This interaction bridges the gap before they begin their daily tasks.
Having wrapped up the briefing, I venture into the field to handle customer requests. I initiate general tree inspections that encompass a range of duties including tree pruning, root pruning, tree removals, and clearing fallen branches and trees. Throughout the day, I remain available for any sudden emergency works that arise.
While City of Marion generally relishes pleasant weather, occasional storms catch us by surprise. These unruly tempests disrupt some of our 60,000 trees, giving rise to an incessant clean-up challenge, spanning from gathering small branches scattered in reserves to disentangling sizable trees enmeshed with others.
The unique nature of each tree infuses every day with a fresh, invigorating challenge.
You participated in the Local Government Management Challenge this year. After winning the State Challenge your team ‘Marion at First Sight’ represented SA at the Australasian Management Challenge Final earlier this month, where you were crowned Australasian Champions! Congratulations on the win, can you share some reflections from this experience?
Entering the Challenge, I was completely in the dark about what awaited. A fellow outdoor colleague, casually assured me, "You'll do fine mate, it’s just occasional meetups and training." What he didn't mention was the daunting aspect of completing 9 tasks demanding strategic thinking, planning, and execution, all within strict time constraints and alongside an unfamiliar group.
In our initial team meeting, I quickly realised that I stood as the lone outdoor worker among colleagues who leaned toward administrative roles. This dynamic felt overwhelming as my expertise revolves around executing procedures rather than orchestrating plans. I grappled with deciphering where exactly I fit into the broader team context.
As the team progressed through the forming, storming and norming phases, we swiftly embraced each other's diverse perspectives, establishing a secure environment that encouraged me to dive deeper into grasping the challenge at hand. My colleagues warmly welcomed my input from the perspective of an outdoor workforce, and my practical thinking played a role in guiding some of our decisions.
The opportunity to collaborate with my indoor team members was a privilege, granting me valuable insights into the meticulous groundwork preceding council projects. This newfound understanding heightened my appreciation for the behind-the-scenes efforts before they reach the outdoor open spaces. While I'm well-versed in the art of rigorous physical work, understanding the mental weight of dissecting tasks, comprehending our deliverables, gathering a wealth of information to support our choices, and then moulding this into a report subject to review and amendments by multiple parties, the Challenge revealed some of the most intricate and challenging dynamics I've ever encountered.
While the State and National finals proved to be a whirlwind, we managed to instil mutual trust and stand united as a team. I consider myself incredibly fortunate for the chance to be part of this Challenge. It sets the standard of commitment and development needed in all teams across local government to ‘REACH NEW HEIGHTS’.
What would be your advice to others thinking of participating in the Management Challenge?
Trust yourself, trust the process and be open to learning from your mentors, teammates and others you meet along the way.
If you are an outdoor worker who may have reservations about signing up for the Challenge, I highly recommend it, as it gives you a higher level of understanding about council and breaks down the barriers that sometimes arise between outdoor and indoor staff.
What’s next for you in your professional development journey?
I am focusing on my new role as a Field Supervisor and developing my leadership skills. This includes moving from a mate to a manager and developing that next level of thinking needed as a People Leader.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’ve just started playing the guitar again and keeping in touch with my cultural side, I like to sing traditional songs. Spending time with my family at my daughter’s Sunday footy games is also a winner.