Meet Our Members

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  • 23 Jul 2018 9:47 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Catherine Loder, Governance Officer, Wattle Range Council.

    Catherine speaks to us about working for a rural council, the excitement being part of the winning team in the Rural Management Challenge last year - and how her participation in the ELP (Emerging Leaders Program) helped her both on the day, and in the preparation for the event.

    What's your current role, and what does in involve?
    I am Council’s Governance Officer and work part-time. A current key project I am leading is the council elections. Other core elements that I work on include policies, delegations, authorisations, Freedom of Information, maintaining council’s website, obligations under the Local Government Act, reporting to council and council committees.

    I also dabble in some side projects such as developing Council’s SharePoint site and helping to automate processes where possible.   
     
    What do you enjoy most about working for a rural council?
    Most of all I enjoy the diversity of work and that there is always something different or a new challenge that I get to be a part of. I also enjoy the working relationships with other regional councils and being able to share experiences across our network.
     
    Last year, Wattle Range Council won the Rural Management Challenge.   How did it feel to be part of the winning team?
    It was wonderful to hear our Council being named the winner. We all put in our best effort and it was nice to be recognised for this. 
     
    How did your team members react? 
    With great surprise! Our goals were to have fun, learn and grow, which we all felt we had achieved through participating. Winning was an added bonus!  
     
    What have been the key benefits of participation in the Rural Management Challenge - to both team members and your council?
    Collectively we have gained broader understanding of the diverse functions of council. The pre-challenge task started conversations across the whole council, which are continuing.
     
    What positives did you personally take away from the experience?  Has it changed your perspective on your career goals?  How?
    Participating in the challenge meant that I was able to extend myself on tasks that are not part of my normal role. Through the feedback received and our team success, I feel more confident that I have the skills and capabilities to make my career goals achievable.
     
    Has the council used the team for anything else since the Rural Management Challenge (e.g. as a cross-functional team?) 
    Our team has reconvened on a couple of occasions to present to council’s Executive Leadership Team and the full staff body.

    Our council sometimes pulls together a multi-disciplinary team to approach a project- the team members will usually be dependent on the project. 
     
    How have you, and your fellow team members grown since the Rural Management Challenge (in terms of career, opportunities, capabilities, leadership)?
    We are all still part of Wattle Range Council, with one member securing full-time employment with council following completion of their traineeship.

    We are all working towards our own goals and aspirations such as undertaking tertiary studies, further training, taking on voluntary positions in council or taking on leadership of projects where possible.  
     
    Did your experience gained through doing the ELP help your team's approach to the Rural Management Challenge?  What skills/experience from the ELP came in handy?
    The Rural Management Challenge provided me with many opportunities to directly apply what I learnt during the ELP.

    Being able to better understand team dynamics, change management and values-based approaches were some of the key experiences that I found myself drawing upon regularly.
     
    Would you recommend the Rural Management Challenge to other rural councils thinking of participating for the first time?
    Yes. If you have people in your organisation that are looking to develop themselves, expand their thinking, change the way they are going about their business, or perhaps need an opportunity to work outside the confines of the office, then I think the Rural Management Challenge has something to offer.
     
    A final word - Can you provide some tips on how to get the most out of the Rural Management Challenge?
    The preparation time in the lead up to the challenge day is very valuable. Get to know your team and what you want to achieve as a team and individuals.
     

  • 22 Jun 2018 9:41 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Gordon Thomson, Director, Corporate & Community Services at the District Council of Loxton Waikerie.

    Gordon explains his approach to 'investing in self' and also discusses the importance of ensuring that staff, especially in regional areas, maintain access to ongoing learning and development.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am currently Director Corporate and Community Services with the District Council of Loxton Waikerie and have been in this role for almost 12 months.  The role includes responsibilities for the corporate side of Council’s business; the full range of community services activities and regulatory services including planning and building functions.    

    You've had a diverse career - can you share some of your background?  Coming from those roles, what attracted you to local government and your current role?
    I have worked in a range of public sector agencies over the years from a long stint in State Parliament as Clerk Assistant in the House of Assembly, to roles in what was previously DFEEST and Treasury and Finance. 

    I worked for a number of years in the New Zealand public sector, have undertaken business consulting in Queensland and have had a contracted period with a regional council in western NSW.  It’s fair to say the decision to move to local government is based on wanting to work more closely with my local community to make a positive difference.      

    You're a new member of the Community Manager's Network - what important role does the network play in facilitating learning and sharing of ideas cross the sector?
    The network gives me an opportunity to stay abreast of ideas and issues, to develop contacts that are helpful not just for me but my wider team and allows the sharing of information in a collaborative way. 

    Speaking of learning and development - in your opinion, how important is it to invest in one's own development?  How have you approached this, personally, in the past, and currently?
    Ongoing learning and development are very important to me.  I am currently working through a Master of Business Administration. 

    I have also maintained a professional membership with the Institute of Public Administration (having previously been President of the NZ body for a couple of years) and I am a Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders.   

    What advice do you have for younger professionals looking to advance their career, in terms of investing in themselves?
    There is significant merit in looking at both taking up or extending areas of study linked to employment and as I have mentioned above in exploiting membership organisations such as LG Professionals, SA to build a network and keep up with trends and issues. 

    It’s also a great way to meet people with similar goals and interests and build these relationships.

    Working now for a rural/regional council, how important is a pro-active approach to professional development? Do rural/regional staff sometimes feel left behind?  Or is it the opposite?
    It is often easy to overlook your professional development when you are working in a remote area but this should give us a greater motivation to make sure we don’t neglect ourselves. 

    There are a number of online opportunities that can be explored and perhaps we should be considering the establishment of regional ‘branches’ or at least get together with colleagues on a regular basis and developing forums to discuss and share ideas.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    Working with individuals and communities to make a positive contribution is what drives me.  Our challenge is to identify ways to deliver the expected outcomes rather than getting stumped by any particular obstacle.       

    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I am a keen gardener and grower of organic fruits and I enjoy making my own wines (and of course sampling them).

  • 24 May 2018 8:53 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Darren Birbeck, General Manager Corporate Services at the City of Charles Sturt.

    Darren speaks about the power of clear and positive language in motivating and leading staff, as well as outlining a number of his key projects and objectives.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?

    In my role as General Manager Corporate Services at the City of Charles Sturt, I work closely with the executive and leadership teams to help achieve our Community Plan goals and objectives. It’s an exciting time at Charles Sturt, as we deliver our largest ever capital works program which includes the redevelopment of the St Clair Recreation Centre, the Port Road drainage project, the redevelopment of our Waste Management Centre and the revitalisation of Point Malcolm Reserve.

    I am really fortunate to have a fantastic team which covers the areas of Finance, Information Services, People & Culture, Governance & Operational Support and Media, Marketing & Communications.

    Some of the new initiatives that we are currently working on include rolling out our Digital Workplace Strategy, review and redesign of our Leadership Development program, the launch of a new Corporate Wellbeing Program, an in-depth review of our recurrent budgets and the completion of our draft Smart City Strategy.

    We continue to seek better ways to communicate with our residents and have recently launched Charlotte, our intelligent chatbot on Facebook, delivered three live streamed events to Facebook, introduced a live Panomax camera at St Clair to monitor progress and our internal communications team have shot drone footage of Point Malcolm Reserve and the Port Road drainage projects.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    It is incredibly gratifying to work for an organisation that is dedicated to providing services to the local community. Having worked in the Aged Care sector for over a decade, it was important for me to continue my career in a role that delivers positive outcomes for people.
    The role at Charles Sturt was very appealing; in addition to the broad range of services we provide, I was also attracted by the positive culture of the organisation. Charles Sturt has a strong commitment to a constructive workplace culture which I believe is critical to the success of any organisation.

    You mentioned that you came from the Aged Care Sector.  Local government is known for often using too much jargon and many acronyms – how have you found this?  Is there anything you are doing to combat this practice?
    To be honest, jargon and acronyms litter most sectors, industries and professions. While local government has its fair share, I haven’t found it any more daunting than in finance, aged care or the automotive industry, where I have also worked.

    For a large part of my career, it has been my role to explain organisational performance to an audience from outside the sector or the profession in which I have worked. As a result, I try to avoid using jargon and acronyms wherever I can.

    I believe it is important to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. The best way to get your point across is to deliver it in a way that resonates with the people that you are communicating with. By using jargon and industry specific acronyms, you are effectively alienating your audience.

    How do you use the power of language to motivate your staff?
    My natural style is a collaborative and consultative one. What drives me is seeing people reach their full potential whilst achieving extraordinary outcomes. I pride myself in being able to communicate with people from across the organisation and it is these interactions that inspire me to come to work each day. I tend to use every day examples from my own experience to demonstrate ideas and motivate staff to achieve great results.

    I am passionate about the work that we do for the community and do my best to communicate this to my colleagues. My tendency is to use optimistic and achievement focussed language to motivate the people I work with.

    How important is using clear language in providing a strategic direction to your team?  Why?
    It is absolutely critical to provide clarity when setting a strategic direction for your team. By using clear language, you minimise the risk of any ambiguity which could lead to misunderstanding and confusion.

    Positive language is especially important in conducting performance reviews.  What advice do you have for our readers about conducting reviews?  What works well, and what doesn’t?
    Given my preferred coaching/collaborative style I always take a positive mindset into performance reviews. From my perspective it is critical to achieve a shared and honest assessment of an individual’s performance, while delivering it in a respectful and consistent manner.

    I believe that the most critical aspect to performance reviews is that they occur continuously throughout the year. This helps ensure that performance reviews become an ongoing conversation, rather than a once in a year event.

    Like many parts of business, Corporate Services is a function likely to undergo significant change, through technology and other influences, in coming years.  How will you manage the challenge of constant change?
    I cannot recall a time in my career when the Corporate Services function hasn’t been subject to significant change! I believe that it is a matter of developing flexible and dynamic plans that can adjust to changes in the internal and external environment. For me, adaptability and resilience are important attributes in dealing with constant change. A sense of humour also helps.

    What keeps you busy outside of work?
    My wife Kylie and I have two adult children who are finishing their university degrees and we are extremely proud of their achievements. Every Saturday we cheer on our son who plays for the Happy Valley Vikings, the club he has played with since he was six years old. Meanwhile his big sister continues her passion for dancing, performing in a troupe with ’That’s Dancing’ at Warradale.

    Aside from the kids, travel is our passion and we are fortunate enough to have visited South East Asia extensively, as well as trips to the US, Great Britain and South America.

    Highlights have included celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh, kayaking in Borneo and visiting Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

  • 23 Apr 2018 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Warren Gearey, Continous Improvement (CI) Specialist at the City of Salisbury and Chair of the Continuous Improvement Network at LG Professionals, SA.

    What is your work background/career path so far?

    I started my career working for Fujistu Microelectronics in Manchester (UK) as a microelectronics technician being promoted into an Engineer role after further study.

    After moving to Adelaide with my family in 1996 I worked for Motorola and Freescale Semiconductors for 10 years and then BAE Systems until 2015. I started in local government with Adelaide Hills Council in a Continuous Improvement Project Officer role prior to moving to the City of Salisbury in July 2016.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?

    I really enjoy helping people to do things better at work. There are so many people in local government who want to do the best they can for their residents and community. Continuous improvement provides them with the opportunity to make things better no matter how big or small the opportunity is.

    It is rewarding when I work with staff on their improvement ideas especially when they reap the rewards of implementing their suggested improvements.

    I am keen to raise awareness of the benefits of continuous improvement across the local government sector and hope to enable this as part of my role as the inaugural Chair of the Continuous Improvement Network.

    What is the most exciting initiative that you are currently involved in at the City of Salisbury?

    I am currently working on developing and implementing a continuous improvement framework to help achieve an organisational approach to all activities. By their very nature the improvements can vary hugely in scale but the benefits all add up. One example was to add a pump to the water system that fills trucks. The pump cost approximately $2,000 but provided an annual saving of nearly $77,000 per year. This also reduced the time to fill a truck from 12 minutes per fill down to 3.5 minutes per truck fill. If this is how much you can save from a small improvement just imagine what can be achieved when the scale of the improvement increases! It’s exciting to be given the opportunity to have a positive effect on employee’s day to day working environment and to continuously look for improvements, working towards a common goal.

    The Continuous Improvement Network - what is it?

    Generally, there is a very small number of Continuous Improvement Specialists in councils, and therefore the network is a great opportunity for like-minded professionals to come together and share experiences and knowledge with the use of CI tools and techniques.

    Guided by the network values – collaboration, innovation, integrity and respect, the network undertakes continuous improvement promotion and advocacy, ensuring that there is a cross section of skills and abilities, encouraging learning off one another.

    A couple of months ago, Taryn met with the network and presented the Performance Excellence Program which I feel, along with 20 South Australian Councils who are currently using the tool, is a big opportunity for local government moving forward. The comprehensive tool measures and provides councils strategic and operation insights into a range of areas such as corporate leadership, finance management through to operations and risk management. The part which excites me the most, is what organisations and cross council collaborations could look like in the future.

    This network has not only helped me build strong relations with LG Professionals, SA but has provided me the opportunity to work with other local government bodies. I feel privileged and am very excited to be presenting at the LGITSA (Local Government Information Technology South Australia) conference in May to promote the existence of the Continuous Improvement Network.

    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?

    To relax, I like to walk and talk with my wife Jill, as well as putting my watercolour skills to practice since recently attending some art classes. Then there is trying to play golf with friends…

    Jill and I are also in-between homes, so finding a new place to live is a priority and I’m sure that when the dust settles, my weekends will be filled with household projects.

    If you would like to hear more about the Continuous Improvement Network or the work that City of Salisbury are doing, connect with Warren on LinkedIn today.

  • 21 Mar 2018 10:14 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Thuyen Vi-Alternetti, Senior Property Officer (Projects) at the City of Mitcham.

    Thuyen talks about her motivation, how she will meet the challenges to be faced in the coming years - and how her participation in the Emerging Leaders Program has helped provide a solid foundation for the achievement of her career goals.

    Hi Thuyen - thanks for speaking with us.

    1. What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am currently the Senior Property Officer (Projects) at the City of Mitcham.  My role broadly speaking involves managing Council’s property portfolio which includes land and building transactions such as leases, licences, permits, acquisitions and disposals.


    I am also a key driver of the building asset management planning for the organisation. The role also sees me negotiating and bringing people together to deliver customer focused solutions with a strong emphasis around people skills and leadership.
     
    2. What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    Prior to working within local government, I worked predominantly in property roles both within the private and state government sector, so local government was a sector that I knew very little about.


    I hate to admit this but I was amongst the many rate payers who had no idea what services councils provide to the community, our rates just go towards household waste collection right? 
     
    So when a local council property role came up, I thought what a better way to learn more about local government than to submerge yourself working in it.  The added attraction for me also at the time, was that my parents were looking after my young children and they lived in the same council area, so it made my daily commute a lot shorter which was a bonus. 
     
    I think the opportunity at Mitcham Council came at a time in my career where I was ready for change and a new challenge. Mitcham was a different council with their own set of challenges and demographics; it also provided me with an opportunity to transfers and test my leadership skills in a completely new environment.    
     
    3. What are the major challenges in the next 2 years for your role and how are you addressing them?
    One of the major challenges (which no doubt you find in all organisations) is around how can we further improve the way we do things and can we be more innovative in the way we deliver services to our customers?  


    Mitcham has strong established systems in place which is great, but it also presents a bit of a challenge as well.  My key focus for the next 6-12 months to assist in these challenges, is around developing a strategic approach to property transactions, building asset management planning and aligning them to service standards and the overall planning vision for the City of Mitcham.
     
    4. What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    I love being challenged, learning new things and being part of a team that makes a positive difference.


    I am very passionate about doing my part in being an advocate for local government and for me this means focusing on customer service, being innovative and working collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes for both the community and Council.  
     
    5. Why did you decide to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program?
    At the time I was keen to do some further studies to challenge myself and hopefully open some doors and opportunities within local government. I looked at a number of options including MBA, but I didn't feel that I had the time to commit to such an intense and demanding program.


    The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is a unique program designed specifically for local government and I knew it was going to provide me with the opportunity to learn more about local government and network with like-minded people in our sector.
     
    I would encourage anyone wanting to learn about our sector and who is keen to network and challenge oneself in a safe and encouraging environment, to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program.
     
    6.  What were your most important learnings/experiences from that program?
    There are so many great learnings and experiences I gained from participating in the Emerging Leaders Program and would be here all day if I had to list them all.  What I can say is that the program triggered a lot of self-reflection for me, both professionally and personally.


    The Team Management Profile and self-awareness assignment at the start really set the tone of the program. The overall program helped me understand what leadership meant to me, my strengths, and the type of leader I wanted to be. 
     
    7.  Part of the ELP is about achieving goals. What did you learn from the ELP that has helped you achieve your own career goals and will continue to help you in the future?
    The program really highlighted the importance of networking, collaborating and emotional intelligence awareness; they are skill sets that I have been very conscious of practising and developing since completing the Emerging Leaders Program and strongly feel that they have, and will continue to play a crucial role in achieving my career goals now and into the future.  
     
    8.  How has the ELP helped you in your career?
    ELP has demonstrated that the subject matter of local government is so broad; it has opened my eyes to other parts of local government in the metropolitan and rural setting. The opportunity to meet so many motivated and passionate leaders within our sector, who I can call upon for support and career advice has been instrumental in my career development.


    It has definitely given me the confidence as a leader to move out of my comfort zone and to continue to grow both personally and professionally in the sector. 
     
    9.  You attend many other LG Professionals, SA events and programs. What has been your experience of them?
    I have to admit one of my favourite parts of attending the LG Professionals, SA events and programs is the networking component, you never know who you will meet at these events and how they may be able to assist you in the future.


    I always find that these programs provide you with an opportunity to get away from daily tasks and provide some thinking time to work on the business rather than in it. Often the topics presented at these events are very thought-provoking and there is always a take away message you can apply back in your workplace.

     
    10. Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Outside of work you will find me spending time with my little family. I have two primary school aged children who keep my husband and I very busy.


    When I am not busy with my kids, you might just find me at the gym or going for a casual run, but often I am just at home relaxing, reading a book and enjoying a nice mug of green tea.
  • 27 Feb 2018 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Peter Auhl, Associate Director Information Management for the City of Adelaide.

    Peter talks about the exciting new initiatives being introduced in the City of Adelaide, his career motivation and his interest in Australian history.

    Hi Peter - thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role?
    I am the Associate Director Information Management for the City of Adelaide

    What is your work background/career path so far?
    I have spent around 12 years in Local Government (City of Tea Tree Gully, City of Charles Sturt and the City of Adelaide), I have also worked in some large Government agencies including The Department of Treasury and Finance, Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology and The Department of Transport Planning and Infrastructure. 

    I started my career in the Hospitality industry with the Stamford chain – I was there for around 7 years. An interesting part of my background is that I was once an opal miner in Coober Pedy – I was only supposed to be there as a labourer for around 1 month but ended up staying for over a year. It was a very interesting job making bombs every morning and getting to blow stuff up.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    I am a very passionate Australian, it’s in my blood. My grandfather was a historian and wrote many books on Tea Tree Gully, Burra and around the Copper Triangle – he used to pay me pocket money to help him research for his books in the Mortlock Library.

    I have always been motivated to help and the beauty of Local Government is you are close enough to the community that you can readily talk to groups, businesses or people on the street and you can quickly see the results of projects make meaningful change to their lives. I still believe it’s the level of government that can have the biggest impact.

    What is the most exciting initiative that you are currently involved in with Adelaide?
    Where do I start? There are so many exciting things happening at the City of Adelaide, we are going through a very exciting period of change and delivering many amazing projects. 10GA is incredible but I will talk about that in the next topic, so I will discuss the Economic Insights platform. This is an amazing platform that takes open data to a new level.

    We recognise that not all businesses have the internal capability to take flat file data and turn it into an insight. This is where the platform takes a transformational leap forward and provides a tool that is available anywhere in the world so that decision makers can have the information they need to influence their business case or their outcome. If you haven’t seen it – check it out at Invest Adelaide.

    The 10 Gigabit project  - what is it?
    Ten Gigabit Adelaide (10GA) is one of the most transformational pieces of infrastructure the city has built in years. Imagine when Council’s first decided to build a water network or an electricity network, 10GA is the Utility of the 21st Century.

    The project is a key element of Councils Strategic Plan, was born from a solving a problem, the problem of internet contention. We consulted with businesses across Adelaide and key feedback was that business internet connectivity was appalling and expensive. Regardless of the speed they had to the internet, at certain times of the day (like kids getting home from school), business trying to access cloud services were in competition with domestic internet traffic.

    Enter 10GA – this project is set to deliver 100’s of km of fibre that will connect to 1000 building across the city at no cost. Each business will have access to this infrastructure and choose services that are meaningful to them (3gig of internet, 2gig of private cloud connection, 2gig of Business to Business connectivity).

    Imagine the power of having thousands of businesses in the city able to communicate with each other without having to traverse the internet. For more information on this project visit Ten Gigabit Adelaide.

    What does it mean for Adelaide businesses and organisations? What can they do with 10 gig – what does the future hold?
    This infrastructure will transform the ways business operate, imagine a radiographer providing real time services to the new hospital from Hutt St. Or imagine if the Government Courts could collaborate with the legal industry without the need to go through the internet. We have spoken to a number of businesses across Adelaide who are excited about the potential.

    How is the council involved?  Will it provide a revenue stream for council in the future?
    Council conducted an international EOI and had a large number of responses, there were a number of elements that were key to deliver against the goals of council and our Strategic Plan. We believe we achieved a fantastic outcome which includes the build as described above, access to a bank of fibre for councils own use (to further deliver on our Smart City ambitions) and a revenue returned to council to reduce our reliance on rates income.

    Do you think this template is more for public/private partnerships for Adelaide?  How do you think this will affect how councils raises revenue (and delivers services) in the future?
    Council has a firm view that we should be exploring how we can generate non traditional revenue and always consider ensuring we are decreasing the reliance on rate revenue. I see there are a number of further projects that we can explore to achieve this outcome. Also there are huge opportunities for councils to collaborate with the City of Adelaide on this project and more. Watch this space.

    What’s unique about this project?  How does it set City of Adelaide apart?
    This project, we believe, is the first of its kind in the world. There are other high speed, internet based networks in other countries, particularly the USA and Singapore, but they are all focused on the internet.The 10GA Project is focused on options for business, keeping specific business transactions away from the congestion of the internet – its focus is on reliability over speed alone (having said that, its going to go really fast as well).

    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I have a small property in the Adelaide Hills. You will never see me in a suit on the weekends, I enjoy pottering around the property and most weekends I am planting trees, tending to the veggie garden or chasing the Alpaca. I love listening to buddha radio and watching the baby galahs learning to fly. In the winter stoking the fire or chopping wood, or collecting wild mushrooms.

    I also love to build stuff and welding is one of my favourite things to do. I have an 80’s sports car (TVR) that I am doing up as I have a dream to race cars one day.

    When I am free of doing all of that, and the weather permits. I love taking the boat out to catch a few reds in the gulf.

  • 24 Nov 2017 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with James Mitchell, Asset Programming Manager, City of Onkaparinga. 

    James is a graduate of both the LG Professionals, SA Emerging Leaders Program and Professional Leaders Program, and is a recent recipient of the Paul Fletcher award, presented annually by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET).

    The Paul Fletcher Award is awarded to an IET member recognising leadership among young professionals in the field of engineering and technology.

    We ask him about his role at Onkaparinga, the challenges facing asset management in local government and also about the Paul Fletcher award - and what it means to him to be the recipient for 2017.

    Hi James, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role and what does it involve?
    My current role at the City of Onkaparinga is Asset Programming Planner, responsible for driving a coordinated approach for capital works programming over multiple years that ensures the timely delivery of renewal and new asset projects. The role involves reporting and coordinating with various project delivery teams to ensure that projects are synchronised and delivered on time and on budget.

    What attracted to you to local government?
    I started my career as an engineering consultant working on a range of infrastructure projects- big and small. What drew me to local government was that it provides the opportunity to see projects being delivered to improve the day to day lives of the community.

    I enjoy seeing projects delivered from planning through to construction knowing all the hard work that goes into the delivery of these projects. Local government also provides opportunity to have the ownership of assets throughout their life-cycle and see the results of strategic plans being delivered within the community beyond the delivery of a single project.

    Assets and Infrastructure are certainly ‘big ticket’ items for local government. What do you think the major challenges for local government in managing assets and infrastructure in the next five to ten years are? How do you think the sector will approach or manage these challenges?
    One of the major challenges facing assets and infrastructure in local government is the aging condition of the infrastructure required to be maintained, replaced or upgraded. At the same time we are learning more about our assets through advances in technology providing highly detailed asset data.

    The challenge for asset management will be to utilise technology to accurately analyse, interpret and communicate this data to inform the sustainable management of assets. This presents opportunities to increase the maturity of asset management throughout local government, optimising the use of resources to deliver greater outcomes to the community.

    You were recently awarded the Paul Fletcher Award for 2017. What led to you receiving this award?
    The Paul Fletcher Award is awarded annually by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), one of the world's largest multi-disciplinary engineering associations with over 167,000 members in over 150 countries.

    The Paul Fletcher Award is awarded to an IET member recognising leadership among young professionals in the field of engineering and technology. I was nominated for the award on the back of recruiting and leading a team of young engineers in South Australia, who have been successful in building a strong engineering community through providing professional development and networking opportunities for young professionals.

    What does winning this award mean to you and your career?
    I was quite surprised when I found out, as South Australia is a relatively small network within such a large institution. I’m very honoured to be recognised for this award, it’s a reflection of all the hard work put in by the South Australian team and the great outcomes we are delivering to the local engineering community.

    I think that being recognised for leading a team by an association such as the IET will make a positive impact on my career.

    In general, why do you think celebrating achievement (including awards) is important in recognising achievement?
    In general I believe that celebrating achievement is important to recognise the effort and good work that goes into an achievement. Celebrating achievement creates a positive and successful mindset and culture within a team or organisation, which motivates people for future success.

    What is your plan for the future? Where do you hope to be in five years?
    I’m currently working in a fantastic team at Onkaparinga, who have made some outstanding progress in the asset management and project delivery space over the last few years and I’m quite excited to help build upon our successes.

    The organisation has also given me some great opportunities through the Emerging Leaders Program and Professional Leaders Program and in the future I hope to use some of the training through a leadership role in some form.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Outside of work you’ll usually find me doing something quite active, I love spending time in the gym and playing social basketball. I’ve also found a love of travel and jump at the opportunity to see different parts of the world.

  • 26 Oct 2017 11:46 AM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 23 Sep 2017 9:18 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Clint Watchman, Coordinator of Urban Policy at the City of Salisbury.

    Clint talks about his about his new Team Leader role and shares some of his insights into what makes a good team and team member.

    Hi Clint, thanks for speaking with us.

    What is your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am currently the Coordinator of Urban Policy at the City of Salisbury. It’s a team leader role and there are three other staff in the team all with a range of urban planning, policy, project management and development backgrounds. The role sees me working across council collaborating on a variety of Strategic Urban Planning and Design projects while also leading a team of very experienced planners and project managers.
     
    Where were you before? What is your work background/career path so far?
    I started my career as a graduate Urban Designer at Delfin Lendlease where I spent 5 years working across multiple projects. Most notably I was involved in the design of the later stages of Mawson Lakes and the master planning and feasibility of large scale residential communities like Blakes Crossing and Springwood.

    I then moved to local government as an Urban Designer for the City of Onkaparinga where I worked across council on urban renewal, town centre regeneration and cross organisational promotion of good planning and design.

    Looking to move closer to home I started working for City of Salisbury coordinating the design of their residential land developments and delivering a strategic assessment of council land for potential residential development. My most recent position (and fortunately being able to stay with Salisbury) is Coordinator of Urban Policy.
     
    What attracted you to local government, and your role?
    Starting my career with Delfin Lendlease was a fantastic training ground and gave me great insight into the private sector, however I always had a keen interest in urban renewal and town centres. I moved to the City of Onkaparinga to diversify and get practical project experience within the field of urban planning and design.

    It’s fair to say I underestimated how much of a professional and cultural change it would be and that I had a lot of lessons to learn. As a long term career decision it was the right one and has lead me to the opportunities I have now.

    My new role provides the perfect opportunity to blend the practical urban design and planning experience I have with my natural instinct to think analytically, strategically and about the long term impacts council decisions have on the community. Most importantly I was eager to take on a new challenge and a team leader role.
     
    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    My primary motivation has always been the same, to create great places for the community. Local government is the primary custodian of public places and they have the means and resources to positively contribute to those environments.

    As local governments diversify, they become more attuned to what makes great places and communities. I am most passionate about how governments can organise themselves, be smart, strategic and informed so that they can make the right decision for the health of the community. This means I am interested in all aspects of local government and motivated to continue learning about how to achieve positive outcomes within a local government context.
     
    How would you describe a ‘team’ and how many different teams are you currently a part of?
    I would describe a team as a group of people with varying expertise working towards a common goal. In this context a team could last for a long time and be formally established or just be a short term ‘working’ team to achieve a specific purpose.

    I’ve lost count of how many teams I have been a part of and have transitioned across different teams within organisations via organisational restructures and for other reasons.

      It’s been a great experience being part of so many teams and my key takeaway has always been to understand people’s strengths, work to them and adapt wherever possible.
     
    What qualities as a team member do you feel are common across all of these teams?
    For the strategic nature of work we do I think forming good working relationships across an organisation is critical and the concepts of a good working ‘team’ can be stretched outside of the administrative team structure.

    At a fundamental level for the type of work we do I think people should feel comfortable to explore ideas and concepts and that the process of discovery is well supported. It’s also important to balance this with achieving results and feeling a sense of achievement.
     
    The team you are currently leading is fairly new. What have been your key priorities and approach in establishing a new team?
    Yes, it’s only been four months and we have a very big agenda. To start I have been focused on learning about our portfolio and how this fits within the organisation, what are the priorities and how do we create our own projects to be proud of.

      I am discovering more and more about the rest of the team as time goes on and getting to know what individuals abilities and working styles are and how this can contribute to our team agenda. I would like to focus on working with the team on how we best integrate across the organisation to make projects and concepts as successful as possible.
     
    What factors do you feel make a successful team?
    While being very new to formal leadership, I have been working as a part of teams throughout my career and I think the reasons for success have typically been the same. In my experience motivation, keeping things moving forward and sharing project experience is fundamental.

    I also understand that different staff may have different opinions or expectations on success and understanding what may be important to them is also an important part of the journey.
     
    You are participating in this year’s Emerging Leaders Program. What impact has it had on you so far both as a team member and as a leader of a team?
    The timing has been perfect for me. Even though doing the course does take up time it’s been very insightful. The team management profiling was incredibly useful.

    It has given me greater awareness into my working styles and preferences and how I can work with this in the context of teams.

    The training sessions have also been very timely and pitched at the perfect level for me as I learn more about being a team leader and working across an organisation at a higher and more strategic level.
     
    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I have two girls, one 15 months and the other just turned four. This means that most of my leisure time is spent with the family on activities around the house, going to playgrounds and visiting friends.

    As the weather improves we spend a lot of our time outside enjoying the garden and each other’s company. When the V8 Supercars are on TV I’ll generally try and watch the race in amongst our other activities.

  • 26 Aug 2017 8:03 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Trevor Smith, CEO of the District Council of Tumby Bay.

    Trevor talks about the importance of taking time out to focus on planning for the future, why ongoing professional development is essential and also highlights the exciting projects in the pipeline for Tumby Bay.

    Hi Trevor, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role?
    I am currently the Chief Executive Officer at the District Council of Tumby Bay and have been in this role since 2013.

    Where were you before? What is your work background/career path so far?
    I have been employed as a CEO and in corporate/governance roles in seven local governments across South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria. I have also worked in the Victorian Department of Local Government, mainly on policy development, grants and legislation.

    In the local governments that I have worked for there has been a range in population from 700 (Mukinbudin, WA) to 40,000 (Wellington, Vic) and a range in area from 1,500 sq km (Mount Alexander, Vic) to 121,000 sq km (Wyndham East Kimberley, WA).

    Working in local government over the past thirty years; and especially in Victoria before, during and after the Jeff Kennett inspired amalgamations; I have concluded that the expression "may you live in interesting times" (an English expression purported to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse) was probably the working title of the first Local Government Act.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    It is rewarding to work with communities and help them achieve their goals. I recently attended the Local Government Professionals Australia congress in Hobart and heard David Morrison quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. In local government the culture of the community is always going to dictate the extent that a council can help them achieve their goals.

    I recently spoke at a Tumby Bay Progress Association meeting and told them what a pleasure it was to work with a group of people who want to take ownership of their own initiatives to improve their community.

    Small wins, like delivering projects that the community has asked for, can be infinitely more rewarding than building a multi-million dollar piece of infrastructure that might be vital, but it’s just expected to be in place without anyone actually requesting it.

    What is the most exciting initiative that your Council is currently involved in?
    For sheer potential the proposed port at Cape Hardy, located between Port Neill and Tumby Bay, could be the most exciting and economically significant development in South Australia in recent years. Cape Hardy forms part of the multi-billion dollar Iron Road proposal for an iron-ore mine, railway and export facility.

    Importantly the federal government are examining linking the port to the national rail network. With third party access to the port for grain and other bulk exports, and with the potential for container movements, this facility could be an important cog in freight movement patterns in Australia for many years.

    From time to time it's important to take time out, reflect on what's important and plan for the future. How do you motivate your team to take time out to work ‘on the business’ or rather just ‘in’ it?
    At Tumby Bay I’ve been incredibly lucky to have inherited an executive team who understand the importance of planning for the future as well as fulfilling the daily requirements of running a local government. We all understand the benefits of continually improving our internal processes and in working with our immediate neighbours and with local governments across the Eyre Peninsula.

    We are more focussed on incremental improvements than a transitional change. And while the opportunities for extended naval gazing are rare, if the organisational culture is to always be on the lookout for how we can do something better, then change will happen. Opportunities are all around us. Our minds need to be accepting and open to change.

    The shock and awe tactics of populist politics (think amalgamations and rate capping) may force rapid change but not all change is beneficial to our communities.

    How do you personally take the time to do this? How do you balance the ‘urgent’ vs the ‘important’?
    This is where having good people in your team is vital. And it’s not the size of the organisation it’s the quality and the culture. If your employees are given the freedom to undertake their work and take responsibility for their actions, including the odd mistake, it’s amazing how much time that frees up. And you will have a happier and more productive workforce.

    Don’t micro-manage. If you’ve delegated a task don’t look over shoulders. But make sure that employees know you are there to provide assistance when needed. And give your employees at least one ‘get out of jail free’ card. Our council recently had a three minute special meeting to correct a ‘typo’ in the rate setting statement. Shit happens – get over it and move on.

    How important is taking time out for professional development - from both a personal and organisational point of view?
    Professional development is essential. Time and money should be allocated to ensure that employees can keep up to date with industry best practice and legislative changes, and to interact with peers in the sector. Training is an investment – not an expense.

    When a CEO tells me that they can’t afford one or two days out of the office – it makes me wonder what happens to their organisation when they go on leave.

    On a personal level I’m just finishing an MBA undertaken in my own time. I hope I am always learning, whether formally or sub-consciously. And at the rate I forget things there should be plenty of room in the brain for new stuff.

    Do you or your staff members attend any LG Professionals, SA events or programs? What has your experience been of these programs from a CEO perspective?
    LG Professionals, SA events are like any training - some programs will appeal and some will not. The National Congress and Business Expo is traditionally always good and, importantly, always looking to improve. That’s also true of the State based events. If you, or your staff, aren’t attending then tell LG Professionals, SA why.

    Rural Councils often need to look at innovative solutions due to cost pressures and lower staff numbers. What’s an example of an innovation or innovative thinking that you’ve seen during your time at Tumby Bay?
    Since I’ve been at Tumby Bay there has been a focus on shared services with our neighbours. This is an incremental process and to date has only been undertaken on a needs and benefits basis rather than being a philosophical journey.

    On a larger scale the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association and The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure recently signed a memorandum of understanding to examine the delivery of shared services. This has great potential for all local governments on the Eyre Peninsula to achieve significant savings and improve our capabilities and capacities by working with DPTI; initially on maintenance items but with the potential to extend to more significant works.

    Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    Hang on; I just need to google this ‘leisure’ thing.

    Dictionary definition: time free from the demands of work or duty, when one can rest; enjoy hobbies or sports, etc.

    OK. That would be bowls, actually a lot of bowls including a week at country carnival in Adelaide each year. Fishing - in Tumby Bay that’s practically compulsory. Walking - I try to walk for one hour a day to unwind and think (or stop thinking). Our National Parks are brilliant - spent a few days walking through Wilpena Pound a couple of years ago, doesn’t get more relaxing.

    And under the terms of my contract I’m obliged to tell you all to holiday on the Eyre Peninsula. No seriously it’s really good.

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