This month we caught up with Matthew Sexton, Workgroup Leader, Cityscapes Horticulture at City of Adelaide about his role and being named emerging leader of the year.
What is your role and what does it entail?
I have the best role in local government! My day-to-day tasks vary significantly, I work with the Greenwaste & Nursery, Squares, Streetscapes and Biodiversity teams to manage our horticultural spaces in and around the city.
Some tasks include scheduling works, allocating resources, monitoring, planning and prioritising our staff’s health, safety and wellbeing. I strive to develop staff through training and development opportunities, closely working with the city operations leadership team.
We love to promote our horticulture work and engage with residents and visitors to the city. The Community Gardening Program has given our teams a chance to share their knowledge and experiences in sessions at our libraries and community centres.
We also have lots of fun working with the marketing team in showcasing city operations teams efforts and achievements on social media!
What is your career background?
After finishing up at Adelaide High School (the best school around) I continued my study at the University of Adelaide completing a Bachelor of Economics. After many exams and late night shifts working in the Advertiser’s printing department, I was keen to pursue a new opportunity working outdoors!
I started my Horticulture apprenticeship through Maxima and spent time at City of Salisbury and City of Burnside learning about reserve maintenance, irrigation, parks and gardens and arboriculture before finding my way to the City of Adelaide to finish my third year at the Nursery.
In 2018 I became a Horticultural Tradesperson with the City of Adelaide and in 2021 I was given the chance to act in the Workgroup Leader role for 6 months. I was successful in applying for my current position last June - how time flies!
Nothing beats working in the CBD and North Adelaide, there's always a great feeling in the city and we are surrounded by the magnificent parklands!
You were awarded Emerging Leader of the Year at the 21st Annual Leadership Excellence Awards earlier this year – what advice would you give to someone thinking of nominating for a leadership excellence award?
Recognise and celebrate success! Local Government is full of people who display so much pride and passion delivering day in and day out, driving improvement with innovations and providing a great customer experience! Nominating for a Leadership Excellence Award is about sharing your work with colleagues to continue inspiring fellow LG Professionals.
LG Professionals SA sure know how to put on a great night out.. the leg muscles were sore from the dance floor for many days after.. so stay well hydrated!
Can you share with us any exciting projects you’re currently working on?
We are currently renewing streetscapes in partnership with our asset management and design teams. When driving around the city streets you will notice garden beds in our median strips and verges being replenished.
This year we worked with our regulatory services team to increase and support outdoor dining areas for businesses in the city as part of the City of Adelaide’s Reignite Program. We provided planter boxes to enhance the dining experience, with our team seeing the spaces they created enjoyed by all and the positive feedback received showed the impact it had.
You’ve previously participated in the Management Challenge and more recently our Ignite Leadership Program – why do you think it is important to expand your networks and invest in professional development?
I expressed my interest to do the challenge after a colleague mentioned the fun he had trying something completely different to the norm and embracing being uncomfortable.
The Management Challenge helped me understand the big picture of local government. I learnt about our critical functions within the City of Adelaide in a great team environment, establishing connections that I now get to collaborate with and learn from every day in the workplace.
Ignite is a stern test of what I have learnt so far and how I can continue developing my leadership style, amongst a diverse group of talented local government professionals all willing to share their knowledge. We love to support each other so we can help our colleagues at work and those in the community enjoy everything local government has to offer!
Choosing to utilise these fantastic programs on offer from LG Professionals SA is something every person who is motivated by achieving great outcomes within the community should take up and you will see your network expand.
Finally, what do you like to do in your leisure time?
Lawn Bowls! I started playing 5 years ago at the marvellous Adelaide Bowling Club, located at Rymill Park. Such a great sport where you meet people from all walks of life and build great friendships whilst having the competitive outlet... and the odd beer.
There is an underdog lawn bowls story I have from last year, we put a team together involving a few friends I had made through bowls for a tournament including; a division 7 bowler, a 13 year old and a retiree. We ended up winning the South Australian State 4’s title - it was quite surreal and still hard to believe - it was almost bradbury-esque!
And yes, I watch Crackerjack often!