This month we speak with Emma Morgan, Executive Assistant to the CEO at City of Charles Sturt.
Emma is also the chair of the LG Professionals SA Women's Network. She shares her visions for the future of the network and also speaks about her experience at Charles Sturt.
Hi Emma - thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
My current role is Executive Assistant to the CEO at City of Charles Sturt which involves making sure that the office of the CEO runs smoothly in every way. This includes fielding enquiries from residents, elected members and staff and investigating matters to ensure that the appropriate action is taken, not to mention the usual diary and correspondence management. I’m also responsible for the administration of one of Council’s grant programs and find assisting community groups to deliver their initiatives is one of the more rewarding aspects of the role.
Where were you working prior to your current position and what attracted you to the role?
I was at Australian Rail Track Corporation for one year and prior to that I’d been at City of Marion for four years after many years in a variety of industries, always in an EA role. My brief stint back out in the private sector made me realise that local government is where I wanted to be long-term.
For you, what is the most satisfying thing about working in local government?
Being able to help members of the community. I also find the variety of things I’m exposed to in local government makes for an interesting career. It’s a constant learning curve.
You’re the current chair of the Women’s Network. What do you see as the main role of this network – and who should get involved? What are the 3 main things you hope to achieve in the next 12 months for the network - and what have you been most proud of so far?
The main role of the network is to provide opportunities for women in local government to network and/or gain development and training. The three main things I hope to achieve with the committee in the next 12 months are:
- Continue to empower women by giving them different opportunities to network, build their knowledge and confidence, develop their careers and share their experiences - the challenge here is to keep it fresh and tap into the current areas of appeal to women
- Extending more training opportunities to regional councils
- Encouraging more women in local government to self-nominate for Awards.
And the thing I’m most proud of so far is the annual conference we’ve put together this year which will be taking place on 23 October. We have a great line up of speakers exploring some really interesting topics.
You are the EA to the CEO – what are the challenges of this role and what advice would you have for others wanting to pursue a similar career?
I often deal with disgruntled residents who’ve escalated their complaint to the CEO’s office. By the time they get to me they’re usually very unhappy! So one of the challenges is the ability to develop a thick skin and grit your teeth when they’re extremely rude and insist that they’re paying your wages because they pay their council rates! The role also requires the utmost confidentiality so it can also be challenging when you’re privy to a lot of information and you need to field questions from staff or elected members in a diplomatic way. I’d advise those wanting to pursue a similar career to speak to somebody already in the role to get a better understanding of what’s involved and to seek training to help develop the appropriate skills.
EA’s to CEO’s ‘see it all’ and are well placed to be involved in just about every aspect of the organisation. Do you see yourself staying in that role long term or using it as a springboard into other areas of local government or management?
I really enjoy my role, exactly because of the fact that I’m involved in all areas of the organisation and it’s so diverse, so yes I do see myself staying in it long term.
Can you share a funny ‘local government moment?’ (Names can be changed to protect the innocent!)
I’ve sat through a few funny council and committee meetings, but probably the less said about that the better!
How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
I enjoy catching up with friends over a nice meal and glass of wine, reading, cooking and travelling, as well as playing the piano and flute.