This month we chatted to Adrian Skull, Chief Executive Officer, City of Marion about his role, and his thoughts on trust and collaboration.
What is your current role, and what does it involve?
I’m very lucky to be the City of Marion’s Chief Executive. My primary responsibilities include working with staff and elected members to set the direction of our organisation; implementing and integrating the strategic direction of Council; making major corporate decisions; managing the overall operations and resources of Council; acting as the main point of communication between the Council and operations and being the public face of Council alongside the Mayor.
I need to have a strong awareness of both the external and internal landscape; and in a changing world, a capacity to seize opportunities for collaboration that will benefit all parties to the partnership. I need to be a cheerleader for our staff and a champion of the organisation’s values and have strong networks across the sector, State and Federal government, businesses and community groups.
What is your career background to date?
I’ve had a few career moves in my working life. After University (Flinders) I travelled for a year overseas and then joined the Army. I served six years, finishing as a Captain. During that time I married my beautiful wife and when I left the services we went to live in Switzerland where I worked in a Swiss Hotel Management College. I ended up as the Academic Dean of the Domino Carlton Tivoli (DCT) College in Lucerne.
Our twin boys were born in Switzerland – and after 4 years, we came home because, in our opinion, Australia is the best place to bring up children. I ran my own training business for 3 years, and then joined BAE Systems as Tender Manager where I was put in charge of the Australian part of a global change program for the company. Our third son came along during that time. After 5 years at BAE I left to be the HR Manager at the City of Charles Sturt and then I followed my then-CEO to Adelaide City Council.
After ACC I ran my own consultancy business for about 9 years before I joined the City of Marion as GM. I followed that job with the role of CEO of the District Council of Yankalilla and then 4 years ago I came back to Marion as CEO.
What do you enjoy most about working in local government?
I really love the community side of our sector. I feel passionate about delivering for our community and they are genuinely at the forefront of everything we do.
We’re thrilled to have you as part of the program for our 2020 Annual State Conference. Can you tell us a bit about what factors are essential to successful collaboration?
Successful collaboration is not easy – and we’ve learnt that in our recent collaborations with Port Adelaide Enfield and Charles Sturt. To succeed, it needs unwavering commitment from the CEOs of the collaborating organisations and regular reinforcement of that commitment to working together. It’s not for everyone. But when it works, the benefits are sensational. You need trust (to be trustworthy and trusting), energy, focus, courage and the capacity to share a vision that will mean that sometimes you will benefit less than your partners – but overall you all come out in front.
Why is collaboration important?
In our sector we aren’t, or shouldn’t be, competitors. When you really work together you will see the gains possible through creating synergy. Every Council does many of the same things – and we duplicate resources to do those things. If you collaborate you reduce cost – and the ratepayer gains.
What is the most exciting initiative that City of Marion is currently involved in? Any big projects on the horizon?
There are lots. We have a new football club facility at Morphettville in train and some exciting smart developments around the new Oaklands Railway station. In the near future, we are going to build an international standard BMX track and a new soccer facility on Major’s Road, O’Halloran Hill. We will also be building a new sports hub and neighbourhood centre at Mitchell Park and we will be doing some exciting streetscape projects across the city. Internally we will be investing resources into building better systems over the next few years. We’re also working to evolve our volunteering offerings to capture people who have lots to offer but don’t want to do the ‘traditional’ Council volunteering things – and we are planning for our future workforce which we think will be quite different for many roles.
Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work? How do you spend your leisure time?
I love kayak fishing with my three sons. We also watch our youngest play soccer for Cumberland in the Adelaide Premier League. I love our diverse group of friends, and I love our family. My favourite night of the week isn’t Council meeting night (surprise!!) but our weekly ‘family dinner night’ when we all get together.
My wife and I love to travel – and we do two or three weekend breaks every year. We will be getting a new dog this year, which we are excited about. We lost our Labrador last year and we miss the pitter - patter of little feet in the house and the love that dogs bring.