This month we speak with Victoria MacKirdy, General Manager Organisation and Culture at the Alexandrina Council.
Victoria tells us about her transition from an urban council, the evolution of organisational culture - and also how she manages work/life balance with 5 kids!
Hi Victoria - thanks for speaking with us.What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
I am currently the General Manager Organisation & Culture with the Alexandrina Council. My portfolio includes organisational development, work health & Safety, risk management, insurance, governance, strategic planning, audit and arts and culture. This diverse mix of responsibilities provides me with the opportunity to work right across the organisation, I love the variety within my role.
Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
Prior to coming to Alexandrina I was with the City of Unley as the Manager Governance & Strategic Project, I had also been in an acting role of General Manager Corporate Services for 12 months. The opportunity to work with a rural Council, particularly one that is very dear to my heart having lived and owned property on the Fleurieu Peninsula for many years. I can honestly say now that I love where I work and where I live.What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
Having spent over 20 years working in Local Government I have loved the diversification that is available to employees, there are so many opportunities to broaden your skills, I have worked in a number of different Councils, in a variety of roles, from Human Resources, Executive Research, Governance and Strategic Planning to name a few. With the addition of further studies and development opportunities I have been able to contribute to and deliver some significant projects for the benefit of the communities I have worked in.Speaking about your current role – There seems to be more focus on Organisation and Culture than ever before. How do you think the role, and importance of this function has changed over the last 5 years?
The word Culture means so many things – a healthy Culture within an organisation is so important. I believe it is one of the most important ingredients for a successful leadership model. At Alexandrina our mission is to “be involved” ensuring that we develop, recognise, listen and adapt to the changing needs of our people. Supporting the different Cultures within the community is also just as important. Culture now appears as the fourth pillar to our triple bottom line as a study of the impacts and benefits we can make to the social, economic, environmental and cultural dimensions of our communities. What are the driving forces of that change – and how do you see them evolving?
There are some real challenges for Councils as they try to meet increasing community expectations. We are engaging more and more with our communities so there has naturally been an increase in awareness of the support and services that are now on offer from local councils. As organisations we are focusing on the health and wellbeing of our staff and recognising them as the most valuable asset which needs to be maintained, developed, planned for and retained. We are also recognising the role that arts and culture plays within our community, there is a focus on ageing friendly communities, ensuring that we retain the cultures of our older generations and nurture the new cultures of our younger generation. There is no “one size fits all” when it come to communities. What’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
After having spent 5 years outside Local Government working in the private sector, I realised how much I enjoyed working in Local Government. I have been a part of so much change and I have seen how much Local Government has grown as a sector. I have made a commitment to complete my MBA and within the next 5 years look to secure a CEO role within South Australia.What’s your most embarrassing Local Government moment?
I can’t think of an embarrassing moment but I can remember many years ago when I had to tell my CEO that an Elected Member who was viewing a confidential file in records management had climbed out the window and run off with the file, I have witnessed some strange behaviour during my time in Local Government.How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
Leisure – now that’s a funny word. Given I have 5 children ranging in age from 1 to 14, and I work full time I don’t come across leisure very often – But I am very health conscious and I like to keep fit, so I train regularly on my bike, I enjoy the challenge of a triathlon once or twice a year. My whole family is very active and sports orientated. I am also a foodie at heart and I love cooking.