This month we speak with Nick Day, Manager Community and Customer Service at Mount Barker District Council.
Nick speaks about his current role, his views on development and leadership and also shares a particularly funny 'embarrassing moment'!
Hi Nick, thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
My current role with Mount Barker District Council is Manager Community and Customer Service. I’m lucky to manage a team of terrific people delivering community services, community development, customer services, tourism and events, communications and building and recreation asset management outcomes.
I also have the responsibility for Corporate Customer Service initiatives including overall Customer Service Framework and Strategy.
Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
Seems a long time ago now and it is but I started work in State Government with the Engineering and Water Supply Department (SA Water) straight out of school as a rookie in corporate service and customer service roles.
This lasted 10 years then I joined local government at Noarlunga Council, moving to Mitcham, then back to Onkaparinga, Adelaide Hills and 2.5 years ago to Mount Barker. Over that time I have been in various supervisory and management roles.
What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
Local government appealed to me for a few reasons including at the time, an opportunity to work near home and with people I had worked with previously, then realising the broader appeal was the closeness to the local community and seemingly being able to influence (through quicker decision making) improved outcomes for them.
It would also be fair to say that role diversity within local government excited me and opened up a career path. I was attracted to Mount Barker because of the breadth of the role and more importantly that I had something to offer that assists delivery of sustained reasonable services for the community as it grows into the future.
The role also continues to fulfil my belief that working across Councils is important and can be very effective for the broader communities. I am currently working on collaborative projects and initiatives with Alexandrina and Adelaide Hills Councils.
What motivates you? - what do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
I am motivated by challenges and leadership, particularly in the areas of people development - watching individuals and teams grow professionally, help as they take on new challenges and then without realising they are doing it, become leaders themselves.
Local government is an interesting and exciting place for a number of reasons. Mount Barker like many council areas has a fantastic community, full of community spirit and pride, innovators, business leaders, family’s and volunteers.
Speaking about your current role - Manager Community and Customer Service - what are you most proud of since you've held that role? What initiatives or new ideas have you employed that might be very valuable for other councils to use or try?
It’s dangerous to be proud of yourself out loud I reckon. As noted above I feel best and motivated when I can see professional growth within people, I didn’t mention personal growth but to me I see they go hand in hand.
Leadership development and consistent behaviours are right up there too.
There have been a number of initiatives and ideas that are part of our daily work activities, so I don’t want to name any particularly but that doesn’t mean we don’t share them, we do and will. It seems to me that getting the business steps right and thinking long term is something we are improving on and getting better at now in Council, and I hope I have had a little something to do with that.
As Mt Barker is a growth council and one that has transitioned quite rapidly from essentially a rural background to become almost an outer suburb of Adelaide - what challenges has that presented and how have you managed them?
Growth is part of the business and yes it does bring challenges, but this organisation in my opinion has been and is responding for the long term, with our community at the forefront.
Managing the challenges and how this is communicated with the community is high priority, enabling community understanding and ownership, by Council leadership.
Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Retirement is on the horizon, but not for 10 years or so and I believe strongly that I have something to give in local government over that time. I’d like to think Mount Barker will be a fair chunk of that time, however I also don’t rule out other options.
Opportunities for continued leadership and personal development growth and associated challenges do come up in local government and consideration of these is important to me. My wife and I are now empty nesters, have energy and great health so we’ll keep on working for a bit, ensuring we keep an eye on healthy life balance.
Do you have an embarrassing local government moment?
No…well…. I do recall one time in my younger days where at a work Christmas breakfast celebration my pants fly zip broke, then the seam continued to rip around the seat of the pants right up to the belt.
It was a hot day so I didn’t have a jumper or anything else to cover my gaping holes and everyone else laughingly didn’t have any ideas to help. I had to walk back to the office, some 3 kms or so, hastily, red faced, hands appropriately covering the areas that would normally be inconspicuous.
How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
Barb, my wife and I are very social and our time is spent full of fitness, physical activities, lots of friends and family time and regularly cruising around Adelaide, the Hills and beyond in Ruby our red 1989 Porsche 928 S4…no hooning of course!