This month we speak with Tomas Alves, Community Learning and Outreach team Leader, City of Salisbury.
Tomas explains his role, the role of libraries into the future, his fascinating background in TV in his native Brazil - and also discusses his experiences both as a participant and mentor in the Management Challenge.
Hi Tomas, thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
I’m the Community Learning and Outreach Team Leader working for the Library and Community Centre Division. My role involves developing and coordinating library programming strategy to engage and meet the needs of our community.
It’s a busy role that provides me with the opportunity to work collaboratively with other areas in council, as well as other community organisations and ultimately community members.
Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
After completing a Degree in Communication at university, I worked for not for profit organisations developing their marketing strategies. This experience provided me with a great appreciation for community based organisations that contribute ‘on the ground’ to community development.
A few years later I was headhunted by Sony Pictures in Brazil to work in the marketing / TV production department. It was a really fun and fast paced environment which required a lot of traveling around South America and US. At Sony I had the chance to interview a few TV stars from popular shows at the time: ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘Lost’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Criminal Minds’. It was really interesting to observe how that perceived glamour life was translated into a very professional behind the cameras work life.
In 2007 I decided to leave everything behind to live overseas with my wife. So here I am in Adelaide, working for the City of Salisbury.
What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
I always had the desire to contribute to community development and participation. Local government seemed to be the best industry and I decided to volunteer for the City of Salisbury right after moving to Adelaide. From there the opportunities were just coming my way. A part-time employment led to a full time job, which then led me to my current team leader role. And I am very thankful for that!
LGMA Management Challenge
You’ve been involved with the LGMA Management challenge both as a participant and now as a mentor for the City of Salisbury team. What do you see as the key benefits to you personally and to Salisbury of participation in the management challenge? What did you learn from your mentor role?
I’m proud to be part of both Salisbury winning teams – first as a team member in 2012, then as a mentor in 2015. The LGMA Management Challenge is taken really seriously at City of Salisbury with a well-structured professional development program. That is where, in my view, the benefits come from.
As a participant I was exposed to various areas of our organisation and learnt a lot about strategies, leadership, process and procedures within the local government context. The availability and interaction with senior management provided me and other team members with invaluable insight and information about our own organisation and the local government industry.
As a mentor it’s all about sharing the experience and providing guidance when needed. Although it’s not a hands-on role, it certainly gave me a chance to observe and understand about team development and team dynamics. The 2015 LGMA Salisbury Management Challenge Team – CosMosis – was a really good team to work with and I learnt a lot from them.
What motivates you? - what do you find interesting or exciting about working in local government?
I think what motivates most people who work in local government is the passion to work with and for the community. We all want the best for our communities; especially because we are part of it ourselves. I find it extremely rewarding mapping out community profiles, community needs and service delivery. This is very dynamic as people and needs change more often than we think!
Speaking about your current role - people have been talking about the potential demise of libraries for years, as books and content become more available online - but of course this hasn't actually happened. What are libraries doing to remain at the core of communities?
Libraries are seen as a truthful institution by community members. It is that welcoming place that congregates people from all walks of life, supporting community engagement, learning activities and social participation. To remain relevant libraries have always been able to respond to changes and adapt service delivery to meet community needs.
Delivering information, technology and learning for people is what we do best. And as advances occur in technologies, libraries will always be able to embrace it and provide customers with access to knowledge and information supporting participation, innovation and well-being.
Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Local government has provided me with some great professional opportunities and I am working hard on my professional development – currently doing the Emerging Leaders Program – to pursue a Manager role in the future.
Do you have an embarrassing 'Local Government moment'?
It’s hard to choose one that I can actually share!
How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
Spending family time with the kids (3yo and 6 months), having friends over for special Brazilian food, and playing soccer at least once a week.