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.