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.