Meet Our Members

  • 26 Mar 2017 2:47 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Alan Harvey, Manager Engineering Services at the Alexandrina Council.

    Alan explains the key challenges he faces in the upcoming 12 months in this role. Alan is also a mentor for Alexandrina's team in the Management Challenge - so he shares his experience in mentoring the team and also speaks about the benefits of involvement in the program.

    Hi Alan, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I look after Engineering Services at Alexandrina Council, which maintains, renews and builds the majority of the Council’s assets. This includes roads, footpaths, stormwater, parks, reserves, buildings, biodiversity areas and coastal and riverfront.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I have worked in private and public sector organisations in three different countries over the last 25 years. Starting straight from school at 17, this has allowed me to experience a range of functions such as civil engineering, traffic management, transportation planning, along with project and contract management.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    From very early on in my career I have worked in local government. I started in the UK and then moved back to Australia. Whilst this has been interspersed with private sector work, I have always enjoyed delivering outcomes for communities which make a difference in people’s everyday lives.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Whilst I still enjoy making a difference within the communities I work, I have found that I get a lot of satisfaction from supporting and developing the people I work with. I am lucky that my current role allows me to make that kind of difference with my colleagues.

    Speaking about your current role – Manager Engineering Services, Alexandrina Council. What are the main challenges you will face in the coming year?  What new challenges do you face with the increase in developments?
    The Alexandrina district is an area of continuing growth, with new housing and infrastructure being added and planned for every year. Engineering Service’s challenge year to year is to balance the expectations of the community against the money available when maintaining the assets they use daily.

    You are a mentor (for the second time) for this year's Australasian Management Challenge.  What value do you think participants (and councils) get from being involved in the Management Challenge?
    The Management Challenge is a unique opportunity for individuals to learn more about themselves and others in a safe environment. The process of bringing people who have never worked together in to a team is extremely powerful. In my view the Council acquires more rounded, informed and emotionally mature employees.

    What learnings can be ‘brought back’ and put into practice every day?
    What the participants and mentors of the Management Challenge bring back into their workplace is varied. Each person has a different journey and therefore obtains different experiences and learnings. For our team it was anything from time management to collaborative working to leadership style adaptation.

    What other comments would you like to make about the Management Challenge and its relevance to leadership and teamwork development?
    In my view the value of the Management Challenge is not necessarily what happens on the day, but the lead up to that day. In local government we do not often get the opportunity to work outside of our work areas and collaborate with people from across the organisation. If you get the opportunity to participate, go for it - the result will surprise you!

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    With two active teenagers my wife and I spend most of our time running them around to their after school and weekend activities. In my other free time I am a School Governor, representative for my son’s soccer club and a karate instructor.

  • 23 Feb 2017 5:33 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Beth Davidson-Park, Director Operations, City of Adelaide.

    Before joining City of Adelaide in 2016, Beth worked for the City of Onkaparinga as General Manager for City Services followed by Corporate & Community Services.  She has also worked in the not-for-profit sector as General Manager Community & Housing for AnglicareSA and Director Strategy for Southern Cross Care (SA & NT).

    Beth has successfully applied and negotiated for federal and state funding for capital works and open space projects and negotiated partnering agreements with private, non-government and public sector agencies to deliver greater efficiencies and improved outcomes in a range of areas including capital development, aged care, graffiti management, youth development and community enterprise services.

    Beth was also recently appointed to the board of Local Government Professionals Australia, SA as the President-Elect. (She will become the President at the next AGM in October 2017)

    Hi Beth, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Director Operations for the City of Adelaide. This includes the planning, design and delivery of a range of large and complex projects throughout the city as well as the annual program of capital works and public realm maintenance regimes.

    You left the local government sector (after a time at Onkaparinga as a GM) to take a job in a not-for-profit organisation. How would you compare the two sectors and is there anything you learned in the NFP organisation that you will bring back to local government?
    Yes, I think after working for AnglicareSA I can bring a different perspective to local government. 

    Working in a competitive environment, with the constant need to maintain funding for essential services as well as development was a different focus that is now becoming more relevant to local government, especially with the emergence of competitive funding models with both the State and Federal governments.

    My experience at AnglicareSA and Southern Cross Care (SA&NT) also helped develop my skills in impacting and influencing other levels of government as well as private and NFP organisations. 

    What attracted you back to local government and your new role at Adelaide?
    I’ve always wanted to work for a capital city. It’s a different vibe to a metro or rural council. There’s more opportunity for collaboration with state government and businesses as well as working nationally. It’s a unique dynamic. 

    I love it.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
    I’m passionate about delivering the best outcomes for our communities, while also developing staff.   We are so fortunate to have high quality staff working in the sector - and I believe it’s our responsibility to continue to build skills, experience and capability within our employees for the betterment of themselves and their communities.

    How do you motivate your staff?
    Clarity of the vision and expectations. If staff know what is expected of them, and how that contributes to the overall goals & delivery, then they are more motivated. I always look to support staff through sharing responsibility and by recognition of their good work.

    I greatly value the work we do together and I’m always seeking opportunities for growth.

    You recently joined the board of Local Government Professionals Australia, SA. What attracted you to the role?
    Local government plays an essential role in every community in Australia.

    To meet the challenges and opportunities we face and to ensure the very best outcomes are realised I believe it is critical that we advocate for and offer our employees innovative, connected and evidence based training and development through the national network of LG Professionals Australia.

    What’s your vision for the organisation, as a board member?
    I spoke before about my passion for building capability and capacity within the sector. I’ll be keen to support the organisation to continue to deliver training and development, and to seek opportunities for broader business relationships and partnering.

    Working with other organisations and/or levels of government is becoming much more important for councils. Do you have any tips for forming relationships with other levels of government or other organisations?
    I start by seeking commonality of purpose and objectives, and it’s important to come to the table as equal partners.

    I aim to recognise each parties‘ contribution and seek synergistic opportunities – where working together will yield a much better result than the two organisations working independently.

    And finally, identify what skills and resources each party can provide to achieve the common objectives.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    I’m keen on maintaining wellbeing and keeping a balance in my life.

    I go to gym at least 3 times a week to ensure regular exercise, I get a great deal of satisfaction from my garden and grow my own herbs and greens.  I enjoy spending time with family, my dogs and my friends.

    And I love to travel – in fact I just came back from a fantastic vacation in Canada and the US, visiting my son who lives in Vancouver.

  • 10 Dec 2016 10:04 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Jane Fetherstonhaugh, Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant.  

    Jane tells us about her role at Grant and also provides some insight into the program that won the LG Professionals, SA Award for Leadership in Community Services in 2016  - the Geared2Drive program.

    Hi Jane, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My role as Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant is fairly diverse, being a smaller council it means there is plenty of variety. 

    My role covers most of the corporate service functions including customer service, rates, payroll, records, finance and ITC.  I also look after community services including youth, tourism, events, sport and recreation. As part of my role I oversee the management of the Port MacDonnell Community Complex which encompasses a library, visitor information centre, gallery, museum, banking, rural transaction centre, Service SA and other government services.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I started out in local government completely by accident.  A two week stint in a small country Shire in Western Australia lasted for 7 years.  I worked in a few other small councils in WA before moving to the private sector. 

    In 2007 I moved back to my home town of Kalangadoo, 45kms north of Mount Gambier and after a short stint as Corporate Services Manager with the South East NRM Board I commenced as Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant.


    What attracted you to local government and your current role?
    I am passionate about the regions and enjoy working at the grass roots level of the community.  I have always worked in rural areas and enjoy the development and implementation of community related projects across council. 

    At District Council of Grant we aim to give a hand up – not a hand out to our many community groups and it is satisfying to see these groups develop skills such as governance and budgeting to help them become more sustainable.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I really enjoy the interaction with my staff and get a lot of satisfaction from seeing them develop both personally and professionally.  I also love the variety.  With such a diverse role, there are always new issues to be solved – usually with limited resources. 

    The District Council of Grant operate the Mount Gambier Airport and the Mount Gambier and Districts Saleyards which both generate significant economic development to the region. This also creates some challenges around keeping these businesses sustainable.

    Speaking about your current role - Deputy CEO, District Council of Grant.  With such an unusual geography (your council essentially ‘surrounds’ the City of Mt Gambier) do you work closely on any key projects or share resources with Mt Gambier?  Are there any examples that you can share that might be applicable to other regional or metro councils?
    District Council of Grant has a close relationship with the City of Mount Gambier and work closely on issues such as economic development and tourism.

    As part of the Limestone Coast Local Government Association we have also formed a Finance Managers Group which comes together to share information and ideas.  We work jointly on common projects, with the most significant one being the development of a program for Financial Internal Controls. 


    District Council of Grant won the LG Professionals, SA Award earlier his year for Leadership in Community Services for the Geared2Drive program.  Can you tell us a bit about that program and what it meant to win the Award?  Has winning the award made it easier to promote the program externally and internally? 
    Geared2Drive is a learner driver program that was developed to support disadvantaged rural and regional young people to gain their provisional drivers licence if unable to gain through their own means. Volunteers assist youth to access the learner driver program, further their skills and prepare them for their provisional licence, where no other support is available to them. 

    The program focusses on training in safe driving, risk management, communication and managing peer relationships to minimise the risk young driver’s face on our roads. The Geared2Drive program was the first learner driver program in regional South Australia.  Attraction of volunteers and funding for the program continues to be a challenge, however the District Council of Grant have been proactive in maintaining momentum for this important initiative.  Winning the award for Leadership in Community Services has given the program greater exposure and awareness and helped in attracting new sponsors and volunteers.


    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    My husband and I run a small beef and sheep property at Kalangadoo which is where I grew up.  We are both very involved with the local football club which as in most small towns is the heart of the community. 

    I also sit on the Mount Gambier and Districts Community Bank Committee (Bendigo Bank), ACCare (Anglican Community Care) and am chair of the Grants Committee the Kalangadoo War Memorial and Sporting Club.


  • 27 Nov 2016 8:17 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Ella Winnall, Community Services Co-Ordinator at Berri Barmera Council. 

    Ella is a recent graduate of both the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) and the Professional Leaders Program (PLP).  She also won the Emerging Leader of the Year Award at the LG Professionals, SA 2016 Leadership Excellence awards.

    Ella shares her views about tourism in Berri Barmera, her experiences with the LG Professionals, SA Programs and why she enjoys working in the sector.

    Hi Ella, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    I am the Community Services Coordinator (Tourism & Transport) for the Berri Barmera Council. I manage our Berri Visitor Information Centre, the Riverland Community Transport and generally all things tourism & transport in the district.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    I started out at council in 2008 in what was supposed to be a gap year after finishing high school. It was supposed to be a casual tourism officer job doing a few days a week at the visitor information centre. Local government quickly took a hold of me and I moved around the organisation quite a bit until this role came up which has been fantastic for me.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    At the time of starting at council I was 16 and really didn’t have much of an idea of what council did. Lucky for me I kind of fell into local government in the way that I did because I actually really love the local government sector as a whole. I love that local government is so connected to the community; you can really see the outcomes and impacts on the community.  

    What motivates you? -What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    I love the Riverland and I am truly motivated to make it the best it can be for my friends and family. I am really passionate about regional areas in general and a big advocate for not letting your location hold you back- this is reflected in my work with local businesses.  I really enjoy the diversity of local government too, that there are so many teams doing such different work coming together to work for the community.

    Speaking about your current role - Community Services Coordinator at the Berri Visitor Information Centre.  What’s the outlook for tourism in Berri Barmera?  Has the region recovered well from the Lake Bonney water issue a few years back? How did the council assist in that recovery?
    Tourism is a great game to be in for South Australia at the moment and the Riverland in particular. Our local tourism operators are really stepping up their game, offering some pretty unique visitor experiences and the visitor numbers are increasing. We’re pretty lucky here to be close enough to Adelaide that it’s a weekender, but far enough away that you feel like you’ve had a decent getaway.

    Our tourism industry is so linked to our river system that we are often at the mercy of the river literally ebbing and flowing. This can lead to some interesting scenarios to manage, both in times of low flow as well as high flow.

    Throughout the drought, we really struggled with perceptions that the lake & river were empty which was far from the truth. We worked to challenge this in the media and made sure we were providing support to events and infrastructure which was suitable for the lower water levels. These days we are dealing with the other side of the coin, with the high flows spilling out over our creeks & wetlands - we now work on combatting the idea of a ‘flood’.

    The Murray is a pretty majestic river system and the changing river level always happens slowly – it’s pretty spectacular to watch actually. The environmental changes mean we can offer different experiences that wouldn’t normally be available. In low flow we get floodplain walks and a sandy beach at Lake Bonney but in high flow we get wetland canoe tours & yabbying.

    At risk of a sales pitch, come up & see for yourself, I can show you around!

    You’re a glowing example of a highly successful LG Professionals, SA alumni.   You were a past participant in the Emerging Leaders Program, a recent graduate of the Professional Leaders Program and you were also named last year’s Emerging Leader of the Year at the 15th Annual Leadership Excellence Awards.  How would you say these programs have assisted in your professional development?  What are the main benefits you have gained from participation?
    The programs together were perfect for where I was at both professionally and personally. The Emerging Leaders Program led to a rewarding mentoring relationship with our CEO, David Beaton which continues to impact my professional direction.

    It also led to some close networking bonds with professionals from around the state which I continue to call on every now and then.  The Professional Leaders Program was great for fine tuning some of the more technical leadership skills and I was able to make a heap of changes to our little part of the workplace which has made everything run smoother. Together the programs really complemented each other.

    How did you feel when you were named Emerging Leader of the Year?  What effect did your win have on your council and you personally?
    It was a little overwhelming to be honest! It had been a fairly full-on year for me both professionally & personally and I wasn’t expecting something like that to happen. I was extremely thankful for all of the people who had helped me to achieve what I had, as it certainly wasn’t done alone.

    The council staff & elected members were really proud and I didn’t realise the extent of the support I had in the community. Part of winning included the opportunity to attend the National Congress which was an opportunity not many regional local government employees get so that was exciting. More than anything the award encouraged me to keep doing good for the community, despite the little battles that come up to challenge us.

    You attended the LG Professionals National Congress this year.  Would you recommend other rural/regional local government professionals attend this National Congress?  Why?
    The congress was fantastic – I can’t speak highly enough of the opportunity. Particularly for rural & regional staff, the congress is really eye opening to the ‘other side’ with so many huge councils there. The guest speakers were world class, it’s not often I get the chance to hear from such high calibre speakers in little Berri Barmera. The networking was fantastic because of the diversity of the delegates and I have since had a few opportunities crop up from those connections.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    What leisure time???

    I spend a lot of my time outside of work on volunteer community committees and boards which can sometimes feel like work but is rewarding. Other than that, I love getting on the water after work for a quick wakeboard or kayak trip.

    I tend to support the local food & wine industries fairly well on weekends and try to travel as much as I can. It’s a pretty good work-life balance for anyone considering moving to a regional area!

  • 28 Oct 2016 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    This month we interview Mark Dowd, CEO of the City of Onkaparinga. 

    Mark speaks about his background and his approach to the challenges of local government. Newly elected to the position of President of LG Professionals SA, Mark also speaks about why he was keen to be involved with LG Professionals and his plans for the future.

    Hi Mark, thanks for speaking with us.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the delivery of Councils overall vision.

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    Prior to taking on the role of CEO at City of Onkaparinga I spent the last 15 years working in the ICT/Technology sector with my most immediate past role being General Manager for Optus Business. Before that I have worked in numerous other management roles across different sectors.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    I had spent a lot of time working with Governments over the last 15 years, understanding their business requirements and objectives and working with key decision makers on how technology could help assist them in achieving their goals so I was no stranger to the sector.
    When the role became available I did some research into Onkaparinga and the vision for the Council and was extremely impressed by the way Council approached its business, the vision it had for Strong Vibrant Communities and the strategies that had been developed to make this a reality. 

    Local government as a sector is certainly challenging but it is also very rewarding. There are not too many other sectors that provide you the opportunities to work across so many diverse fields- it’s a good sector to be involved with.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Success. Delivery. Strategy. The ability to bring a team together and think outside the box, put aside the commentary of ‘that’s how we have always done it’ and work with people who are looking to implement change and push the boundaries. That’s exciting.

    I believe the sector in general right now is really embracing change and looking for opportunities that may not have been considered in the past or may not have been considered to be the role of local government. My team are doing a great job in turning over every stone and looking for an edge.

    Speaking about your current role - Chief Executive Officer, City of Onkaparinga.  What are your key priorities for the next 12-24 months for Onkaparinga?
    We are focusing on developing a sustainable and vibrant community. I have put in a lot of time and effort working with business to ensure that opportunities exist for our city and our residents. We are launching an ON Business partner program in December which brings all of our sectors together for the greater good of the South.

    We have completed a comprehensive service review framework that shines a torch on council and asks the hard questions about whether what we do is aligned to our community's needs, are we the best people to be delivering the service,  if we are how well are we actually doing and are there ways we could improve what we do.

    Lastly we are looking for opportunities to consolidate our infrastructure, community centres and facilities and work towards creating vibrant hubs that deliver a range of services and really activate a community.

    As Onkaparinga is a growth council that still includes some rural and regional areas - what challenges has that presented and how have you managed them?
    Being such a large and diverse council does present different challenges. The North of our city is already significantly developed whilst the South continues to grow. The blend of metropolitan and rural challenges is also something that we work hard to manage. 

    Because of our size and demographics we are breaking the council down into 7 districts. Each part of our City has its own unique characteristics however underlying these there are many commonalities.

    When we look at council as a whole we need to be as efficient and effective as we can in our service delivery, economies of scale, considered and structured works programs.

    When we look at a district in its own right, what are its unique characteristics? What makes it special and how do we capture and enhance that?

    You are the new President of LG Professionals, SA.  Why were you keen to be a part of LG Professionals, SA and what are your plans for your term as President?
    I think LG Professionals, SA does a fantastic job of delivering programs for local government staff. The programs and conferences are targeted and meet the needs of the sector and are not just run for the sake of running a training session. LG Professionals, SA does a great job of engaging the sector at many different levels and is always looking for ways to provide better opportunities for administration. 

    I am looking forward to my time as President. I hope to bring a different point of view to the board. I am looking forward to working with Taryn and the team to look for new opportunities. It is important that when we consider how and what we can improve on as a sector we look not only within our industry for answers but to also engage outside of our industry for a different point of view.

    I believe there are great opportunities for better collaboration and recognition within the private sector.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    What a great question. I like to play golf if and when I can and also spend a bit of real time and not face time with the family and kids before they bugger off and leave home.

  • 22 Sep 2016 3:15 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Kate Staples, People and Culture Business Partner, City of Burnside. 

    Kate has recently moved into this role so she explains how she has approached the transition from a background in records management.  Kate is also currently participating in the Emerging Leaders Program, so she also shares her thoughts on how that program will support her current and future roles in local government.

    Hi Kate - thanks for speaking with us.

    Tell us about your role at City of Burnside - what does it involve?
    As People & Culture Business Partner I liaise with business units across Council to share information, challenges and opportunities. I help to establish improvements and solutions that get the best out of our employees and assist them in meeting Council’s strategic objectives.

    This year we’ve launched a new Performance Development and Review program, an eLearning system, electronic induction program, new corporate values, various employee development programs and culture change initiatives.

    Where did you start and how long have you been in local government?
    Straight after high school I somewhat accidentally ended up with a job interview at the City of Port Adelaide Enfield for a Records Trainee role. At the time I had no idea what the place was, no idea what Council did and it sounded a little bit like I was going to work in a dark basement! I worked with a great team (not in a basement), completed my traineeship then went onto the City of Burnside.

    I’ve been at the City of Burnside for the past 9 years and held the position of Team Leader Records for 5 of those. Working in records was a great opportunity to learn about the different facets of council and it inspired me to branch out. Following a secondment opportunity in People & Culture last year, I saw new opportunities and challenges and here I am.

    What attracted you to People and Culture?
    Mostly the mysterious biscuit tin... I kid, I kid. I’m passionate about continuous improvement and business excellence, no matter what the field. I love challenging the norms, understanding why people think the way they do and working together to deliver better outcomes. When I undertook my secondment in People & Culture it really sunk in that you can’t deliver business excellence without excellent people.

    What is the best thing about working in that department?
    I love playing a part in driving positive change. We have a really diverse team and I enjoy engaging with staff at all levels to add real value.

    Being fairly new in the role, have there been any challenges so far that you can share?
    Thankfully it’s been a really positive experience as we’re all here to achieve the same thing. The challenge has really been in trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can while shifting from one area to another!

    How do you plan to learn everything you need to know?
    It probably helps that I’m a curious person. I love getting into things (teams, systems, processes, challenges) and figuring them out. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by a supportive and knowledgeable team. I also participate in co-mentoring and am studying a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management).

    The title of your role is interesting as it includes the term ‘business partner’ - a recognition of the role that People and Culture can play across the organisation.  How and where do you think People and Culture can make the most impact?
    I think it’s important that people are engaged in what they’re here for.

    People & Culture can impact on the experience people have when they’re at work and that’s a pretty substantial impact. We can help make the workplace a great environment and help to ensure employees have the tools and support they need to do their job well – ultimately the community benefits from that.

    Tell us about your involvement with the Emerging Leaders Program.  Are you enjoying the program?
    Loving it! I feel fortunate to work with such a passionate, committed, diverse and intelligent group of people in the program. Through theory and group work it’s teaching me a lot about leadership and has given me a broader appreciation of local government - I think that’s important in any role.

    Outside of local government, what keeps you busy?
    Uni keeps me pretty busy at the moment. I live near the beach so I get down there quite a lot, I play beach volleyball, video games, do aerial yoga, dabble in arts and crafts, enjoy reading and am volunteering for the TEDx Adelaide event coming up next month.

  • 20 Aug 2016 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Nigel Morris, CEO of the District Council of Yankalilla.

    With just over 6 months in this new role, it was a great time to catch up with Nigel to learn what challenges/benefits he has found working as a CEO in a rural council, having just come from a background as a GM in a metro council.  Nigel tells about his achievements in his first 6 months, his plans for the future, and much more...

    Hi Nigel, thanks for speaking with us.

    How long have you been the CEO at District Council of Yankalilla?

    I started in December 2015.

    What was your last Council? What roles did you have and how long were you there?

    I was at the City of Burnside for 7 years, originally as the Manager of Information Systems in 2008 and then a series of GM roles, starting in 2009 with Corporate and Community under a two GM structure then in 2012 General Manager of Corporate Services under a three GM structure.

    In the calendar year 2014 the three City of Burnside general managers undertook a rotation of roles.  Each rotation was for four months, in order for each GM to gain in-depth experience in the role and to ensure that the business of council continued uninterrupted.  The rotations initiative resulted in the Council receiving the LG Professionals SA award at both state and national level for Innovative Management Initiatives – Metropolitan Councils. 

    At the start of 2015 I permanently took up the role of GM Urban Services before leaving for Yankalilla at the end of the year.  I was also given many opportunities to perform acting duties as CEO including during the Burnside exciting times.

    How would you describe the transition from GM to CEO?  Has there been any surprises?

    Not really – from my acting CEO experience I knew what to expect.  I did realise though that at Burnside, Paul Deb (CEO) was the main point of contact for the Elected Members while the GM’s were a bit more removed.  Now I’m the CEO, I know what that means!

    I was however surprised Paul never taught me how to deal with cattle loose on the beach.

    What have been your initial impressions about the transition from working in a metro council to a rural council?

    Coming from a council that had everything in place in terms of processes and procedures, certainly Yankalilla has a number of priorities in that respect to work on in the short term.  For example, when I arrived here the limited indoor staff with multiple roles were still working to a nine day fortnight, so we had to deal with that.

    It’s essentially about moving forward – the Yankalilla Elected Council was keen to establish their key priorities to become a more progressive council, embracing best practice procedures and processes but also looking to grow in economic development and tourism.


    What is the best thing about working in a rural council?

    The depth and breadth of operations you get involved with.  In a metro council you can be working in a small section of a department – or even as a GM you essentially get involved, on a day to day basis, with just your own portfolio.  In a rural council there are less staff but all the same responsibilities so everyone needs to be more ‘multi skilled’, especially as CEO!  It’s very hand-on.  It teaches you all aspects of the business.  Also – it’s rewarding because you can easily see the changes you are making – and believe me, you get immediate feedback!

    I am now dealing with things for the first time including Community Waste Water Systems (CWMS), 415 kilometres of dirt roads, tourism, unmade roads going through houses, beach access ramps, beach shacks built in the 1950s on Council road reserve, jetty maintenance, cows on the loose, escaped pigs, dead kangaroo allowances, residents that like to bring me rocks and having the best bakery in the state directly across the road.


    Do you think it’s a valuable step in the development of any senior manager to work in a rural council for a time?

    Definitely.  It’s a different perspective and the learning opportunities are simply remarkable compared to an urban council. 

    Like metro Council’s we still have to produce Annual Business Plans, Long Term Financial Plans, Strategic Plans, Asset Management Plans, Annual Statements and Annual Reports.  We have the same governance and legislative requirements including Internal Controls, Audit Committee, Development Assessment Panel, budget preparation, delegations, code of conducts, policies, section 270s, freedom of information, conflict of interest provisions etc. we just need to do all these same things with less people.  A CEO of a rural council will need to be hands on with all these requirements, getting that valuable experience.


    What were your main priorities as CEO for your first 6 months?

    It was interesting because actually, in the interview process for this role they asked me to prepare a presentation to pretend I had been there for 12 months and I had to present what I had achieved in my make believe first 12 months.  So in fact I had largely already prepared that agenda before I started. 

    The priorities as set out by the Elected Members (and my presentation) were to get the finances more sustainable, improve our asset maintenance including roads and facilities, improve governance processes, do some cool stuff and sort out some people management issues (such as a new EB).

    I’ve also concentrated on making things clearer for the EM’s, the staff and the community in terms of our priorities and finances – such as the preparation of a clear Annual Business Plan and long term financial plan to guide us along with the completion of the new website.  It’s about building trust though effective communication.

    Concentrating on savings and efficiencies we’ve already been able to reduce our operating expenditure to a position where we now have a surplus budget while at the same time we’ve increased our capital expenditure by over $1m.  This is critical as we want to ensure our assets are well maintained - not only for our residents but also to attract more tourists to the area.

    You recently presented as part of the ELP (Emerging Leaders Program) Rural Day.  What was some of the key advice that you shared with the group?

    I explained that it is certainly a different experience working for a rural council.  It gives you much more rounding, prepares you for many other opportunities.  One example I shared with the group was in my first week here I went to fill up my car at the local service station.  I had forgotten my pin for the petrol card – but no worries, the service station operator knew exactly who I was and just put the pin in for me! 

    Such a tight knit community is great for these sorts of things but it also means you are also very visible and accountable - which is also good as it keeps you on your toes…!


    You participated in the ELP program eight years ago, and are now a Chief Executive Officer.  How did this program assist you in your development and would you recommend it to aspiring local government leaders?

    I had a fantastic experience in the ELP Program in 2008.    I actually received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Emerging Leader of the Year at the then LGMA awards.

    I found it very valuable.  My appointed mentor for that year was Mark Withers (
    now CEO, City of Port Adelaide Enfield) and he gave me a great piece of advice – “always put your hand up for new opportunities, because that’s how you learn and grow.”

    So that advice led me to seek new opportunities (I think I moved on to a new job within about 4 months of getting that advice!) and also take up other challenges as they came along - such as the GM rotation at Burnside and of course this new CEO role.

    I think the program made me very motivated about the future – it showed me what is possible from a personal development standpoint and how great local government is.  So yes it was very valuable and I’d recommend it to anyone.

    What are your priorities for the next 6 months?

    I have just implemented a new organisation restructure so bedding this down is a priority.  We have also just adopted the 2016/17 Annual Business Plan with over 40 specific projects so are busy getting these projects started immediately. 

    One of the cool projects for this year is the continuation of the Free Wi-Fi rollout into the district with Yankalilla, the Normanville Foreshore and Caravan Park set to go online this year.    We completed the roll out of free Wi-Fi for Normanville late last year and we already get over 120 people logging on per day in Normanville, so we think it’s a great initiative for the area.  I can’t wait to see how many people use it when our population triples over the summer months.

    Outside of local government, what keeps you busy?

    In the last 6 months or so I’ve taken a new job, got married, bought a unit and had another child….so I’m pretty busy at all times!


  • 21 Jul 2016 5:28 PM | Anonymous


    This month we speak with Sallyann Shearer, Team Leader Talent and Organisational Development, Adelaide City Council.

    Sallyann tells us why she was attracted to working in HR, her thoughts on the strategic role of HR in an organisation and her involvement with the HR Network.

    Hi Sallyann - thanks for speaking with us.


    Tell us about your role at Adelaide City Council.
    I am the Team Leader, Talent and Organisational Development. I manage a small but fantastic team and together we are responsible for initiatives such as: cultural measurement, leadership development, training, reward and recognition, talent management, diversity and inclusion, employer branding and employment pathways.

    Where were you before you started in local government?
    I worked in State Government for around 8 years in various OD roles. Most recent roles include Manager, Change and Organisational Development and Manager, Workforce Development.

    What attracted you to HR?
    After completing my Behavioural Science degree, I was employed by a workplace that gave me some great opportunities to try different roles in areas such as Marketing, Policy, Research, Internal Communications and Grants. None of these areas truly inspired me until I won a HR role and my manager suggested I undertake a post grad qualification in HR to further my knowledge. I absolutely loved studying HR and was able to put the theory directly into practice. I moved from the operations side into the training and organisational development side of HR and have never looked back.

    What is the best thing about working in HR?
    I love being able to understand the way an organisation operates in terms of culture and organisational practices and then look at ways to improve on those practices. There is always work to be done in ensuring that our strategies, programs and initiatives are aligned to changing organisational directions and business and employee needs.

    What is the strategic role HR can play in an organisation?
    We have a strategic role to play in understanding current and future workforce needs, how they align to organisational goals and strategic directions, then ensuring we are attracting and retaining the right people to fulfil these needs. We also have a strategic role to play in ensuring that our people understand the vision and direction and their contribution to it and have the right capabilities, skills and knowledge to perform successfully and achieve the organisational goals.

    Tell us about your involvement with the HR Network and the importance of the network to its members and the sector.
    I have been an active member of the HR Network Committee for nearly a year and a half, joining the network shortly after commencing in my role at Adelaide City Council. During that time I have facilitated a number of the discussion forums at events, including one on talent management, one on employee value propositions and hosting a session on onboarding and induction. I also spoke on behalf of the HR Network at the recent Mission ImPossible Conference which was a great way to showcase the work we are doing as part of the HR Network. The HR network is a fantastic opportunity for all HR professionals across councils to not only network, but to collaborate and learn from each other on topics and issues that are common to all of us. We have such a huge opportunity to work strategically to strengthen, broaden and add value to some of our HR programs by working together to offer them across all councils.  

    Outside of local government, what keeps you busy?  
    I recently 'discovered' fitness and have been participating in 8 week challenges at the gym, ran the Bay to City, the Hot Lap Fun Run (during Clipsal 500) and also gave the recent Stadium Stomp a go. I also have a seven year old son who keeps me pretty busy.

  • 16 Jun 2016 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Michael Collins, Manager Projects and Procurement at Coorong District Council.

    Michael tells us why he was attracted to the sector, his commitment to professional development and what he learned from the recent LG Professionals SA 'Imagineering' event.

    Coorong District Council recently won the LG Professionals SA Award for Excellence in Local Economic Development for the SA Motorsport Park - a major economic development project in Tailem Bend.  Michael explains how this came about and how the community will benefit.

    Hi Michael - thanks for speaking with us.

     
    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
    My current role is Manager, Projects and Procurement at Coorong District Council.  This role incorporates; project managing the delivery of Council’s capital works program, contractor management, procurement, managing Council’s administration and works vehicle fleet, and looking after Council’s property interests (leases, licences, permits, road closures, sales and acquisitions).

    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
    My main career background is in real estate.  Having been a Branch Manager for two of the UK’s largest real estate companies in Cornwall and Devon, in 2002 I set up my own business in Exeter which specialised in the sale of quirky, interesting and period properties in the city.  Our company tagline was ‘re-designing estate agency’ and we prided ourselves on impeccable customer service and being ahead of the game, being the first estate agency in the city to use text message alerts and automatic email matching of new listings to our customer database.  We also ditched suits and ties in favour of less formal smart casual attire.

    After selling the business in preparation for moving to Australia, I worked for nine months for Exeter City Council as a Housing Officer, working with a range of clients who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness.  Many were escaping from domestic violence or had drug/alcohol problems, which also posed child protection issues.  It was working in this role that gave me my passion for local government and the realisation that we have the ability to make a huge difference to the lives of people in our communities.

    On arriving permanently in Australia in April 2010, I worked again briefly in real estate, before taking up the position of Property Officer with Coorong District Council in October 2011.  My role developed with additional responsibilities and I took on the position of Manager, Projects & Procurement in July 2014.

    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
    It was initially my love of politics, in particular ‘community politics’ (I used to be very politically active in my youth, at one stage being the National Press Officer of the Young Liberal Democrats of England and also a candidate a couple of times in local council elections in the UK).  Whilst I no longer have any desire to be active politically, working in local government seemed to be a good way to make a positive impact in the community.

    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
    Making things happen.  I enjoy the challenge of tackling the tough stuff and getting results.  It is also extremely rewarding to see the successful fruition of a project, whether it is a new toilet block, a re-modelled office or a fishing jetty, knowing that I have in some ways influenced the final outcome and that they will be there for years to come.

    Speaking about your current role – Manager Projects and Procurement - 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?
    Helping to guide Council through the process of seeking expressions of interest for the sale of the Motorsport Park, the lengthy detailed contract negotiations, satisfying the contract conditions precedent to the sale, through to seeing work physically start on the site.  On a personal level it meant getting involved in and learning about areas of Council work that I’d had little knowledge of previously, including; Native Vegetation offsets (SEB’s), Development Plan Amendments, Consortium Agreements and Section 48 Prudential Reporting. 

    Council showing the initiative and having the courage to enter into a consortium agreement with a private company (in this case for the purpose of applying for and acquitting a grant) is something that I would encourage Council’s to be more open to in order to advance and unlock the economic potential in their communities.

    Congratulations on your recent LG Professionals SA Award for Excellence in Local Economic Development – for the SA Motorsport Park Development.  This is an exciting project not only for the Council but for SA.  What could other councils learn from your approach? 
    I believe that a large part of the reason that the Motorsport Park development has been able to progress has been Council’s drive and determination to facilitate the development wherever possible by attempting to remove obstacles, rather than being the obstacle. 

    Obviously we have had to follow process and ensure that we are putting the interests of our ratepayers first, but instead of taking a ‘jobsworth’ approach, that can be the stereotypical view that private business has of local government, we have appreciated that speed and time is of the essence, and have used external consultants to expedite processes where our own in-house resources were lacking. 

    Our elected members have brought the community on the journey and have been resilient in the face of negativity and criticism, particularly early on in the process.

    How will the council/community benefit from this development in terms of economic development into the future? Will the Council continue to have some involvement in future years?
    The economic benefits to both Council and the community of this development will be huge.  The projections are for 974 FTE to be created (603 in construction and 371 in flow on), 339,000 extra visitors to the Murray and Mallee district per annum producing a $113.4m Gross Regional Product (Murray and Mallee). 

    It is likely that we will also see the continued rapid growth of townships in the Coorong Council District, such as Wellington East, increasing both the ratepayer base and the likely valuations.  It is also expected that townships like Meningie will also benefit from visitors extending their stay to enjoy the area.

    How much time per week do you spend on your own professional development?  How important do you think it is for professionals to allocate time to working 'on the business' and their own skills?
    I think professional development is incredibly important and like most, I probably don’t spend enough time on it.  Taking time out to attend professional development activities and events away from the workplace enables us to think outside the confines of our everyday roles, open our minds and hone our skills.

    LG Professionals SA is focused on providing professional development for the sector – what was the most recent LG Professionals SA event you attended and what did you learn from it?
    The most recent LG Professionals SA event that I attended was the ‘Imagineering’ event.  I obviously took a lot away from it, as I keep finding myself enthusing to my colleagues and elected members about various parts of the event...what if we could....?.

    In particular the presentation by Mark Dowd (CEO of Onkaparinga) and his example of paying a business owner to put tables and chairs on the footpath rather than charging them, resulting in the business owner getting so busy that they needed to employ 3 extra people.  This was a great example of going against conventional wisdom and obtaining a fantastic outcome for the local economy.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    Whilst I might like to see myself in five years sitting on a beach in Northern Queensland sipping an ice cold beer, in the absence of a lotto win, the next best thing would be continuing to progress my career in local government either at Coorong or another progressive council in South Australia.

    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
    When I’m not enjoying family time with my partner Ian and his 6 year old son, I love making the main thing I miss about my native Cornwall.  I hate to tell the people of South Australia that what you refer to as a ‘Cornish Pasty’ is nothing like the real thing.  The only way that I can satisfy my regular cravings for a genuine Cornish Pasty is to make one myself!

  • 21 May 2016 9:07 AM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Scott McLuskey, Senior Development Officer, Planning, City of Prospect.

    Scott tells us about his view for future development in Prospect and what key insights he gleaned from the recent LG Professionals Australia National Congress.

    Hi Scott, thanks for speaking with us.

    You recently attended the National Congress on an LG Professionals SA Scholarship.   What were the top 3 things that you learned that will stay with you from the Congress, and how will they affect your work or professional development?
     
    I greatly appreciated the opportunity to attend the National Congress and thank LG Professionals SA again for the scholarship opportunity. There were several things that resonated strongly with me including the concept that our communities are not lacking for information, they are lacking for clarity, and also the concept that we should be creating processes that are designed for intrinsic success and by which failure is actually more difficult. I think there is also a very direct application here in Prospect about the role that local government can play in leading rather than managing change and uncertainty.

    What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
     
    I am the Senior Development Officer, Planning at City of Prospect. My role usually incorporates planning assessment, technical advice, compliance and system improvement. Working in a smaller city however means that my role sometimes also includes assisting with event management, policy improvement, media releases, systems testing, economic development and a range of other challenging and rewarding functions.
     
    Where were you before? (i.e. what is your work background/career path so far)
     
    Prior to my time at City of Prospect I spent several years with a great team at City of Salisbury having entered local government through a short but valuable stint at City of Playford. Prior to my career in local government I was a retailer of dreams and nostalgia in the form of lollies and other sweet treats in the picturesque hills of Adelaide.
     
    What attracted you to local government, and your current role?
     
    I’ve been acutely aware of local government and its value to our communities since my first involvement with the sector at age 7. I recall a keen interest in the number of votes for Mickey Mouse while scrutineering that election. I do think though that my role and the broader role of local government are well-aligned; setting and realising a positive vision for the future while delivering services that benefit our communities today.
     
    What motivates you? What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?
     
    The skills and knowledge within this sector are incredibly vast. Finding ways to collaboratively leverage this and the local knowledge of our community is both an interesting and challenging task.
     
    Speaking about your current role - Senior Development Officer, Planning - 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?

    I hope that my contribution to City of Prospect is not characterised by a single project or thought bubble, and nor do I think anyone in local government does their best work in isolation. I am proud to be part of a small team that is leading a transformed vision for the inner area of Metropolitan Adelaide and to be part of a Council that has placed design quality squarely at the front of that vision. Whether it be through the restoration of our character homes, shops or churches or through newer development, I hope to make many small contributions through my role that are part of a greater Prospect fabric.

    What are your comments on development in Prospect?  Being so close to the City - are there more businesses setting up in Prospect?  Is the residential side moving to higher density?  How do you balance the competing needs of the 'old Prospect' and the push for new development?

    Balance is exactly the right word, and where the right balance is achieved I think we will find that the needs of 'old' and 'new' Prospect are complementary rather than competitive. Particularly as our age profile and transport modalities change the desire to have a wide range of accessible businesses and services will only grow. The development of higher density dwellings within our city, paired with the retention of our larger character dwellings within expanded historic character areas, offers flexible housing choice to current or aspiring Prospect residents at any stage of life. This provides opportunities for first home buyers or downsizers who previously may have needed to move away from Prospect for their new home. Creating new housing opportunities near existing business nodes (and the FTTP NBN network) consequentially improves the opportunity for small to medium businesses, in particular, to thrive.

    Personally, what’s the longer term plan? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    The overarching objectives are simple; to continue to grow and challenge myself, and to ensure that I’m in a role within which I am making a positive contribution. I have had some excellent growth opportunities through my time at City of Prospect and through LG Professionals SA that have positioned me to achieve those objectives by targeting a higher level role within the sector.

    Do you have an embarrassing 'local government moment'?
     

    I’m sure that we all have several, but perhaps it will suffice here to say that those who saw me on the dance floor at the Leadership Excellence Awards could provide an answer to this question for me.
     
    How do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
     
    I spend a good portion of time outside of the office volunteering as a coach and statistician at a local basketball club, the Forestville Eagles. Away from those roles I enjoy running, a good book (a real paper book I should say too) and a good red wine. Preferably the latter two at the same time.

Mailing Address:  5 Hauteville Tce EASTWOOD   Phone: 8291-7990   Fax: 8451-1568   E-mail: admin@lgprofessionalssa.org.au

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