This month we speak with Timothy Tol, who has just commenced the role of Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services at Renmark Paringa Council.
Timothy speaks to us about his passion for working in local government, his career path and his views on professional development.
You’ve worked in local government for a while now. What is your current role and what does it involve?
Yes, I have been in Local Government for a while—almost 19 years now. I am currently between roles and will be starting at the Renmark Paringa Council on Monday 29 October as the Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services. This role involves providing leadership to these two portfolios, and I am looking forward to it.
What attracted you to the sector and what keeps you motivated?
Actually when I was studying at university the last place I thought I’d be working is Local Government. I had that negative stereotypical view of Councils back then. However, it was at the end of 1999 when I landed an opportunity to do some work experience as a planner at Victor Harbor through Donna Ferretti, who was a lecturer at UniSA at the time. This led to working as a General Inspector over that summer that led to acting as their Principal Planner the following year. That was my start in Local Government and I soon realised, and continue to the motivated by, the opportunity that Local Government gives us to do great things with, and on behalf, of our communities—that is my main motivating factor. Now that I am in leadership roles I am also motivated to help others to fulfil their potential and grow. I am always inspired by the high quality of people that work in this sector and it is a privilege to have the opportunity to make a positive impression on other people’s careers.
Over the years you have attended a number of our programs, events and conferences. How has being involved with LG Professionals, SA benefited your career?
One of the greatest things about attending LG Professionals events is the opportunity to meet and get to know our peers from across the sector. The knowledge that is shared and the friendships and contacts that we gain are invaluable.
What value do you place in investing in your own professional development, and what role has professional development played in your career so far?
I place a high value in investing in my own professional development and I believe that we must all continue to learn and extend ourselves whenever possible. One of my most recent achievements was completing my MBA through the Australian Institute of Business in 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience especially as it exposed me to concepts and ideas from many other sectors, not just Local Government. The most important thing about professional development is it provides the opportunity to continually improve and this then provides us a greater chance at success in serving our community and being successful in our respective roles.
You recently completed our Executive Leaders Program. How did you find this experience?
The Executive Leadership Program was without doubt the most valuable, inspiring and thought provoking experience I have had with regard to professional development. It’s really created a bit of a paradigm shift in my head to be honest.
It was a privilege to be part of the inaugural program and I can’t thank Taryn and Kate from LG Professionals, SA and the facilitators Andrew Stevens, Diana Renner and Barry Bales enough for putting the program together. I’m also extremely thankful for the group we had—we were an eclectic bunch from many professions, city and country Councils, and we all had such a great time learning together. I have made some wonderful friends from the program and am so happy I had the opportunity to attend.
I thoroughly recommend to everyone in executive leadership roles to attend the next Executive Leaders Program.
Do you have any advice for local government professionals looking to work at the executive level in the future?
My advice to others is simple, don’t be afraid to get out of the comfort zone and back yourself.
Finally, what keeps you busy outside of your work in local government?
I have recently found an interest in gardening, in particular growing veggies, herbs, fruit and the like. In reality my partner is more the gardener, I am more the labourer, but I’m really loving growing some of my own food and it’s a great escape to be in the garden after a day at work.
I also have a love for writing, which I am trying to devote more time to. I own a share in a race horse which keep me poor rather than busy. And I love being busy listening to music—I have an eclectic musical taste, but am a big fan of Aussie Hip Hop and been following it since almost before it was a thing. I still regularly attend gigs and am looking forward to the Elefant Traks 20th Anniversary shows coming up in November and December.