• 27 Nov 2019 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month we spoke with Karen Rokicinski, Director Corporate and Customer Service  of City of Victor Harbor, about her role, professional development journey and the exciting things happening at City of Victor Harbor. 

    We’ve been following your career journey for over a decade now- can you tell us where you started in local government and where you are today?

    I started in local government in 2004 as an Environmental Health Officer with Alexandrina Council, who took me on before I’d even graduated from university. 15 years later, I am now with City of Victor Harbor as Director Corporate and Customer Service.

    Wow - and how did you get there?

    I have been most fortunate to have had opportunities to take a number of small upwards and sideways steps into different roles throughout my career so far. After a few years as Environmental Health Officer with Alexandrina Council, I was promoted to the role of Team Leader Environmental Health. Then a few years later after a small internal restructure, I was successful in my application for the role of Manager Health, Environment & Regulatory Services. Whilst in that role, I put my hand up to undertake a number of small secondment roles in other portfolio areas (including within the engineering, infrastructure and open spaces areas) and was given the chance to act in a number of different General Manager positions. Then following the resignation of the CEO in 2016, I was afforded the opportunity to step into an interim role as General Manager Engineering and Environment whilst the organisation recruited a new CEO and underwent a restructure. Shortly after the organisation restructure was complete and the position finished up, I moved to neighbouring council, City of Victor Harbor, taking up the role of Director Corporate and Customer Service, and that’s where I am now. In amongst it all, I also did further study and professional development including a Master of Business Administration.

    You’ve been to lots of our conferences over the years. What role did professional development and networking play and what advice can you give to those considering applying for a role?

    Professional development has played a crucial role in my career journey. In particular, experiences in my early career which included the Local Government Management Challenge and the Emerging Leaders Program, helped me to develop my people leadership skills after starting out my career in a technical role. These programs, as well as formal study, have prepared me for each next step. I think it’s really important to continue learning across your entire career through specific programs as well as through your network of peers. There’s so much we can learn from the experiences of others, and taking the time to listen and consider advice is a pivotal part of our personal and professional growth. Finding a suitable mentor for where you are at in your career journey is also important and can provide you with an objective view as to where you need to invest further in your skills and experiences. Attending conferences and seminars is also important to keep us motivated, inspire us with new ideas and ensure that we continue learning.

    For those considering applying for a role, being a regular face in local government events and programs, and getting involved will ensure that you are considered to be someone who is committed to and invests in the sector. This, coupled with your skills and experience, will help others to understand what you can bring to any new role that you are applying for. Consider finding a suitable mentor or coach to help develop parts of yourself that will help you be ready for the next stage in your career - listen to, and actively implement their strategies and advice.

    There are lots of exciting things happening at the City of Victor Harbor- what are you most excited about?

    It definitely is an exciting time to be working at City of Victor Harbor and there are many things that I am looking forward to being a part of over the coming months and years. In particular, seeing the outcomes of a number of key developments within the Victor Harbor town centre and foreshore – a new causeway to Granite Island, further development of an arts and culture precinct, as well as the next stages of the Main Street upgrade project, to name only a few.  Within the organisation, we are embedding a strong customer focus in all that we do and finding ways to improve the services that we provide to our community. It’s been exciting reflecting on the ways we deliver our services and improving our processes, including through better use of technology, to make them more efficient and provide value for our customers.

    Finally, how do you integrate work with your life? Any advice?

    It requires discipline and careful planning to make sure you can fit in everything that you need to and want to get done. My advice is to make a realistic plan which includes both your work and your personal needs (being sure you have made sufficient time for the things and people you love!). Review your plan regularly and communicate your plan so that others know how they fit into it. Then be strict with yourself about sticking to the plan. When you commit to something, give of yourself completely and be present in the time and space that you give to it. Of course you sometimes have to be prepared to flex, but this is generally a good formula for me. Oh, and listen to your body - it will tell you if you’re overdoing things and then it’s important to adjust your plan so that your work and life are sustainable.

  • 31 Oct 2019 10:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month we spoke with Matthew Morgan, CEO of The District Council of Karoonda East Murray, about his role, the importance of investing in professional development and the challenges facing regional councils.

    What's your current role, and what does it involve? 

    I’m currently CEO of the District Council of Karoonda East Murray.  With a small team, this involves being both strategic and operational as well as being the public representative of Council along with Mayor Caroline Phillips.

    You have worked in local government for over a decade. Where were you before Karoonda East Murray?

    My local government journey began in 2003 at the Hepburn Shire Council in my hometown of Daylesford, Victoria.  I started out as a part time IT Assistant and worked my way up the organisational chart to Manager Governance and Information before moving to Adelaide in 2009 to take on the role of ICT Manager at Centennial Park Cemetery Authority, which is a subsidiary of City of Unley and City of Mitcham.  Again, my role changed there various times to incorporate much broader management activities and portfolios, before making the jump into full time parenthood in 2017.  That came to an end in January 2018 when I took on the role at Karoonda East Murray.

    What do you enjoy most about working in local government?

    Delivering outcomes for the community is the part I enjoy most about my role and working in Local Government.  This year for example, we’ve designed and built a new child care centre in Karoonda, and for the first time, Council has developed a service delivery model which provides for child care to the community, 5 days a week.  In a small community like ours, these projects are the ones that will deliver huge long term rewards for the community.

    The District Council of Karoonda Easy Murray recently entered a joint team with Southern Mallee District Council in the Rural Management Challenge.  What were some of your highlights from the experience?

    Assembling a composite team from two small rural councils, just 3 weeks out from the Rural Management Challenge was a huge task, given the limited resources and small teams that we have on the ground to deliver council services anyway.  The highlight for me, was seeing the team come together, bond and work extremely well together on the Pre-Challenge tasks and on the Challenge Day tasks.  It was also a great opportunity for me to have some time with peers as we observed the teams go about their tasks throughout challenge day.

    Why is it important to invest in the professional development of your staff?

    Learning is a lifelong activity and it's important that all staff are provided with opportunities for professional development that helps them to acquire new skills and knowledge and also to build new networks.  More and more, to achieve the outcomes expected of us, we need team members to be both learned and connected.

    What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your council, and regional councils more generally?

    Resourcing and financial sustainability are clichés, however are very true and relevant in our situation.  For a small council with an annual budget of around $4M, 15 staff and community assets valued at $70M the challenge of meeting our basic compliance obligations, let alone service delivery or strategic planning and project is always going to be a finely balanced game of pick and choose and making concessions.  It highlights the importance of having a good process established for identifying external funding opportunities to bring $$ into both Council and community.

    Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work?  How do you spend your leisure time?

    I’m not quite sure that I’ve got the work life balance quite right yet, it’s a work in progress, however outside of work you’ll usually find me with my wife and two young boys doing what good Dads do, playing and being silly.  I also enjoy a glass of wine, relaxing at our property down at Second Valley and taking the drone for an occasional flight.

  • 30 Sep 2019 12:30 AM | Deleted user

    This month we spoke to CEO of City of Charles Sturt and newly appointed President of LG Professionals, SA, Paul Sutton, about collaboration, reform and his vision as President.

    You have just commenced your term as President of LG Professionals, SA—what is your vision for the Association over the next twelve months and beyond?

    The association has a fabulous reputation as the premier professional development provider for the Local Government sector. We are working from a strong baseline and have a bright future. I look forward to building the professional capability across local government - as well as maintaining technical and leadership capabilities.  Enhancing trust with our communities and stakeholders across Councils is critical.  We must act with honesty and transparency as we address issues including Local Government reform, the China Sword and SKM led waste crisis, and the continued roll out of NDIS and its effects on our communities in the context of changing demographics and economic pressures in SA.

    The City of Charles Sturt together with the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and the City of Marion are working in a uniquely collaborative way—can you tell us about that and what factors are essential to council collaboration?

    Simply put, together we are all stronger, smarter and can be more efficient. The leadership teams of each our 3 councils has a clear resolve to work together for the benefit of our communities. It will work if we are actively engaged, open to new ideas and humble about putting aside our tried and true techniques and methods as willing to partners. It is easy to say, but can be both confronting and rewarding, as long as you are willing to put constructive energy into both the task and the relationship! 

    What advice do you have to local government professionals who may be feeling uncertain about reforms?

    Reform can be an opportunity, not a threat. I believe our sector, our communities and the State Government all want the same thing –  relevant and efficient services that add value to the lives of each person in our communities. In that context, we should explore the opportunities to work better together, to think about how we can reduce red tape (self and externally imposed) and consider everything from a community value perspective..

    Finally, with such a busy role and still finding time to volunteer within the sector, how do you maintain your energy?

    I’m lucky to work with a great team of colleagues where everyone shares the load and we support one another. Personally, I exercise regularly and put effort into my family and personal relationships. Having a break and planning time away is important for me to stay balanced. So good holidays are always great to look forward to – especially a weekend at our shack on Kangaroo Island.

  • 30 Aug 2019 10:27 AM | Deleted user

    This month we spoke to Johanna Williams about her role as General Manager, Rundle Mall Management Authority, and what inspired her to take part in our Executive Leaders Program this year.

    You work for a council subsidiary – can you tell us what challenges are unique to a subsidiary vs working in a council?

    As custodian of the Rundle Mall Precinct, RMMA’s role is to deliver economic benefits for our traders, our property owners and for those who work in and visit the Mall. That means we’re delivering a specific part of the City of Adelaide’s agenda under the governance of a Board comprising retail, property and marketing professionals as well as Elected Members.

    We work semi-autonomously, developing our own strategy and initiatives for the Precinct, drawing on the expertise and information within Council and with accountability to the Elected Members.

    An added overlay is the wider stakeholders we serve – the people of South Australia – who see Rundle Mall as the heart of Adelaide and are invested in what happens here.

    We look forward to having you participate in our Executive Leaders Program this year. What inspired you to take time out of your busy schedule and commit to the program?

    Given Rundle Mall needs to lead the way in South Australia, I’m striving to build my leadership capabilities so I can keep fostering the innovation culture that’s essential for RMMA‘s ongoing success. I also need to lead a talented team through a complex environment of constant change and diverse stakeholders so I’m looking forward to gaining a deeper appreciation of my leadership style and how to lead with authenticity. Meeting other senior leaders to share experiences and learn from one another will also be invaluable.

    What is the most complex challenge you are facing in your role at the moment?

    Future proofing Rundle Mall against the rapidly changing retail landscape while preserving the memories every South Australian has of the Mall. In some way Rundle Mall features in most people’s life milestones, so how do we retain that when we’re considering what the Mall should be in 10 or 20 years from now? It’s a challenge to balance that big picture strategy against the short-term delivery of campaigns, activations and leasing that draw visitors in and supports our traders and property owners.

    Finally, what keeps you busy outside of work?

    When I’m at home I like to unwind in the garden. I’ve just finished creating my first vegetable patch so I’m looking forward to planting seedlings for summer. I also enjoy travelling and exploring new destinations and heading to the footy – it’s just a shame 2019 hasn’t ended so well for the Crows, Port Power or for my Swans!

  • 31 Jul 2019 11:28 AM | Deleted user

    This month we spoke with Deb Larwood, CEO of The District Council of Kimba, about her role, the challenges she sees in the region's future and how Council is preparing itself to overcome them.

    What is your current role and what does it involve?

    I am currently employed as the Chief Executive Officer of The District Council of Kimba and have been in that role for nearly three years. This involves overseeing the strategic operations of Council including asset management, finance, strategic planning, governance and human resources, as well as working closely with the elected body of Council.

    What is your favourite thing about your role?

    I really enjoy the opportunity to work closely with the community and the elected members to help achieve their goals for the Kimba District. Local Government is a unique organisation and prior to working within the sector I didn’t realise how extensive and varied a role a Council plays. I like being actively involved in the community and enjoy the chance it gives me to play my part in helping the community prosper and reach its full potential. This is also made more appealing through working within the community in which I live, whose residents are resilient innovators embracing emerging economic opportunities to position the town for a sustainable and vibrant future.

    What is your career background to date?

    I performed in the role of Manager Corporate Services at the District Council of Kimba for a period of ten years before becoming the CEO. Prior to my involvement in Local Government I worked in the banking sector as well as being what I term a professional volunteer with an involvement in a vast number of community organisations.

    You have been a member of LG Professionals, SA for over 10 years! How does this membership benefit both you and your council?

    For me probably the most significant benefit I have received is the opportunity to network with other CEO’s and staff members of Council, as well as using LG Professionals, SA training and conference forums to enhance my capabilities as a CEO. Over the course of my 12 year career in Local Government I have been fortunate to attend around 8-9  of the LG Professionals Australia National Conferences, as well as numerous state conferences, CEO Forums along with completing the Professional Leaders Program, a three-day intensive leadership session and  a  number of other training initiatives.

    I believe that professional development is an essential component of both the CEO role and the leadership role and see the training that not only I have undertaken, but also other Council staff and the elected body as an investment in the organisation. LG Professionals, SA allows this training and exposure to other information gathering forums to be readily accessible. It is centred on Local Government and showcases the expertise they have in this area, as well as providing an opportunity to network with other individuals involved in the sector.

    To ensure the benefits of LG Professionals, SA is available across the organisation the District Council of Kimba currently provides membership to the Senior Management team. In addition, in November 2018 Council sent the applicable administration staff to the LG Professionals, SA Women's Network Conference, not only as an acknowledgement of their commitment to Council throughout the year, but as an opportunity to expand their local government knowledge and develop relationships with other Council personnel. The feedback from this conference by staff was extraordinarily complimentary and the benefits gained have far exceeded the cost to Council. It is my intent to make this event an annual sojourn for administration staff when possible.

    You are registered to undertake the Executive Leaders Program, which will commence in August. What are you most looking forward to as part of this program?

    At the recent NGA Congress, David Pich from the Institute of Managers and Leaders ran a session on ‘the six layers of intentional leadership’ and categorised the term ‘the accidental leader’. I identified with his theories and recognised the need to be well versed in the art of leadership. I am constantly looking at ways of improving management leadership capabilities and am looking forward to the insight the program will provide me in this area. I am keen to hear the concepts around traversing changing environments and enhancing our adaptive thinking capabilities.

    Local Government is constantly evolving, and I think that as CEO’s we need all the help we can get to navigate through these times. In addition, the networking that is always a component of these programs provides us with the ability to see what other Councils’ are doing in the Local Government Sector. 

    In these times of constant change, there is a huge focus on planning for the future. What initiatives are District Council of Kimba implementing to enable you to be future ready?

    When it comes to summing up Kimba Council’s attitude to planning for the future, the best three words to describe Council’s approach would be innovation, adaptation and community.

    Kimba is lucky to have a progressive Council who are open to looking beyond the traditional means of future proofing both the Council and the community. A key focus and priority for Council is playing a proactive role in the recruitment of a doctor to provide GP Services to our town and hospital. Whilst it is not a traditional role of local government bodies, Council has chosen to campaign strongly with other tiers of government and have allocated significant funds to secure this service.

    Council is also in the throes of completing a Community and Economic Development Strategy. Over the past two years we have secured in excess of two million dollars in grant funding which has allowed us to complete such projects from playgrounds, independent and affordable aged accommodation to water catchment initiatives. Tourism is also a focus and Council has set up a self-contained camping area to increase tourism visitation to our town.

    In the 2019-20 budget, funds have been included to develop plans for a potential expansion to the Council-owned health centre. We are also investigating power line undergrounding and upgrades to the main street. All of these initiatives are part of the long-term planning of the Council and will be included as part of Council’s Strategic Plan review which is underway.

    From the perspective of the District Council of Kimba it is all about Council positioning itself to be able to maximise all the opportunities that present into the future.

    What do you see as the biggest challenge for your council, and regional councils more generally?

    The biggest challenge I see for the District Council of Kimba, and many other regional Councils, is the current declining population of the district and the challenges this creates in the community through the constant need to lobby for the continuation of infrastructure development and service delivery. Subsequently, this flows into a decline in people using facilities which then presents Council with a difficult decision as to what is the best use of Council resources and where these limited resources should be allocated. Do we prioritise the playground, or do we allocate these funds to assets better utilised within the community? There is a perception within communities, including Kimba, that Council’s should keep operating these assets long-term even when the numbers do not support the decision. ‘Councils need to do more with less’ is a common mantra that we hear and this is becoming more prevalent as time goes on. This issue is also exacerbated with the constant cost-shifting we see from other levels of government and along with the effects of declining population Council’s long-term sustainability and the capacity to maintain adequate level of services to the community is at risk into the future.

    Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work?  How do you spend your leisure time?

    I am currently studying a Bachelor of Government and Public Management, which takes up a considerable portion of my spare time. With the little bit that’s left over I enjoy reading, travelling, catching up with family and friends on a regular basis and watching a good movie. Shopping is also a favourite past time of mine and one I’m very good at.

  • 28 May 2019 12:31 PM | Deleted user

    What's your current role, and what does it involve?
    I’ve been the Chief Executive Officer at Rural City of Murray Bridge since June 2015, where I’m responsible for strategic planning, stakeholder management and communications, finance and asset management, human resources, governance and major projects. I’m also responsible to the Council to build a proactive organisational culture to deliver a “Proud, Safe and Progressive Murray Bridge”.

    What‘s your career background to date that has led to your current position?

    • Financial Management Professional since 1997 at the City of Port Phillip and the City of Yarra
    • General Manager responsible for Corporate Services at Adelaide City Council 2006-2013
    • General Manager Corporate Services at Rural City of Murray Bridge in 2013

    What do you enjoy most about working in local government?
    I’m passionate about implementing the strategies we have developed together, delivering the Vision, and making a difference for our Community.

    What benefits do you and your council get out of your membership with LG Professionals, SA?
    We value the opportunities to progress our professional networks and interact with local government peers across the state.

    We’re thrilled to have you as part of the program for our 2019 Economic Development Conference. How have you shaped your Council’s involvement in economic development and what does the future hold for Rural City of Murray Bridge?
    One of my key priorities upon commencing in the CEO role with the Rural City of Murray Bridge was to develop an Economic Development Strategy, which has guided our involvement in economic development activities over the past 4 years.

    The Strategy articulates our long-term objectives in Economic Development out to 2030

    What is the most exciting initiative that your Council is currently involved in? Any big projects on the horizon?
    Council has committed to a range of major projects to make our entrances more attractive. These projects have included the delivery of a Freeway Town Entrance Statement, roll out of new Town Entrance Signs, the implementation of the Adelaide Road Linear Park Concepts and progression of the Swanport Road Masterplan.

    Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work? How do you spend your leisure time?
    My key commitment to out of work time is a personal training session each week and volunteering in my local community.

  • 27 Feb 2019 5:29 PM | Deleted user

    This month we spoke to Naomi Molloy, Improvement Specialist at the City of Playford to learn more about her, what she does and what she has planned for 2019.

    What is your current role at the City of Playford and what does it involve?

    I’m currently on secondment as an Improvement Specialist. My role involves working with different stakeholders across the business to review, design and improve systems and processes in consideration of expectations, desired outcomes and the customer experience. The role has allowed me to expand my knowledge of the intricacies of Council business and has given me valuable insight into how other departments and teams operate. It’s also allowed me to work with people in a variety of fields and has given me a greater appreciation for the value of our LG staff.

    How long have you worked in local government and what is your career background to date? 

    I’ve been in local government for 5 years now, all at the City of Playford. Prior to that I worked for a state government not-for-profit organisation and have worked for family businesses within the building industry as well. My background is in payroll, finance and human resources, which are surprisingly complementary!

    What do you enjoy most about working in local government? 

    Local government is an incredibly meaningful industry to be working in. We’re very fortunate to be able to deliver such great services to our communities and to see the benefit these services provide.

    Another thing I love about LG is that there is no competition between Councils so we have a unique opportunity to share knowledge, skills, resources and ideas between our networks. The benefits of this can ripple across the sector and I feel as though we’re heading towards a stage of greater collaboration that will see our communities thrive.

    You will be participating in the 2019 Emerging Leaders Program.  What are you most looking forward to about the program?

    I’ve been looking forward to this program for almost a year now! Unfortunately I first became aware of it when the registrations were full for last year so I’m very excited to have made it in to the 2019 course.

    I’m particularly interested in the organisational culture, sustainability, change and leadership modules and since I grew up in country NSW, I’m also keen to explore the insights from a rural perspective. I think it will also be great to go through the course with other local government employees in similar (or different) phases in their career as well.

    I really should have just said I’m looking forward to all of it!

    You are a new member of both the Continuous Improvement Network and Women’s Network - what important role do these networks play in facilitating learning and sharing of ideas across the sector? What prompted you to join these networks?

    I’ve attended events run from both of these networks and can honestly say that I’ve made some great connections and heard fascinating stories at these events. For me, joining the networks was really a no brainer after that!

    The CI network has been a valuable resource, allowing me to see how other Councils are running their CI programs, what improvement opportunities they’re working on and to share my own experiences and findings. The network has people with brilliant minds who have some great initiatives and programs happening in their respective Councils. The network provides the platform to facilitate easier sharing of these which can only lead to greater learnings across the sector.

    The Women’s network is such a powerful network to be a part of. I attended my first Women’s Conference last year and was incredibly inspired by the speakers who presented on the day and managed to catch a few of them for a one-on-one chat. I’m excited to see what the network drives and inspires in the future and for women in the sector to not only break through the glass ceiling, but to shatter it completely.

    What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government? 

    I like to challenge the norms while keeping sight of the bigger picture. I enjoy coming up with solutions that make it easier for people to perform their job or to provide another service over and above the status quo. I think that local government has started shifting to an innovation phase not only in how we operate externally, but our internal services as well and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few years have in store!

    One of the other things that motivates me is one of our greatest assets - our people. We have people who have been at Council for longer than I’ve been alive and some who started just last week. Across that spectrum there’s so much knowledge and varied experience on offer and I have a lot of respect for the amount of value our people provide.

    Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work?  How do you spend your leisure time? 

    I have two beautiful children (an adult teenager and a threenager!) and a husband who’s pretty good value too, so I actually quite like spending time with them! I enjoy going to the gym as well and I have come to admit that I love (but sometimes hate) running. I’ve branched more into trail running recently so will often spend early mornings and weekends clocking up some kilometres either on the road or on some of Adelaide’s finest peaks. Since life is all about balance I also like to wind down with friends and a glass of wine or two, or with a good tv show or movie and the comfort of my trackies.  

  • 30 Nov 2018 9:55 AM | Deleted user

    This month we hear from Beth Davidson-Park, member and outgoing President of LG Professionals, SA, as she reflects on 2018.

    It has been a privilege and a pleasure (as well as a great deal of fun) to be President of this great organisation for the past year. I am delighted to continue to work alongside Nigel and the team as a member of the Board, and am confident that LG Professionals, SA will continue to go from strength to strength as the exciting and innovative program offerings of our upcoming Professional Development Program for January to June 2019 gain momentum alongside the long-term success of programs such as the Emerging Leaders Program, the Strategic Management Program (formerly the Professional Leaders Program) and the Management Challenge.

    I am especially proud of the work that Taryn, Kate and the team put in to launch our brand new Executive Leadership Program (XLP). This program is focussed on development opportunities for local government executives seeking to expand their minds to news ways of thinking, delivering and managing, as well as amplifying their leadership impact. With a complex and continuously evolving sector, it is now more than ever essential that local government is prepared for the future. New services, new skills, local and global impacts and the ever-changing digital landscape have fundamentally changed expectations of both the nature and delivery of services.

    During this year I was also very proud to represent our Board at the National Conference as well as welcoming record numbers of people attending our Annual State Conference 'Fast Forward: Navigating the Future’ and the Women’s Conference ‘Reaching your Full Potential’, as well as the Leadership Excellence Awards Gala Dinner and the Community Conference, which was held at SAMHRI—an apt venue for the innovative approaches our community teams across the state bring to our communities.

    Thank you from me to Taryn and the team for their energy, enthusiasm and support as well as congratulations on bringing innovation to all you do—I am in awe of your work!  

  • 30 Oct 2018 11:27 AM | Deleted user

    This month we speak with Timothy Tol, who has just commenced the role of Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services at Renmark Paringa Council.

    Timothy speaks to us about his passion for working in local government, his career path and his views on professional development.

    You’ve worked in local government for a while now. What is your current role and what does it involve?

    Yes, I have been in Local Government for a while—almost 19 years now. I am currently between roles and will be starting at the Renmark Paringa Council on Monday 29 October as the Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services. This role involves providing leadership to these two portfolios, and I am looking forward to it.  

    What attracted you to the sector and what keeps you motivated?

    Actually when I was studying at university the last place I thought I’d be working is Local Government. I had that negative stereotypical view of Councils back then. However, it was at the end of 1999 when I landed an opportunity to do some work experience as a planner at Victor Harbor through Donna Ferretti, who was a lecturer at UniSA at the time. This led to working as a General Inspector over that summer that led to acting as their Principal Planner the following year. That was my start in Local Government and I soon realised, and continue to the motivated by, the opportunity that Local Government gives us to do great things with, and on behalf, of our communities—that is my main motivating factor. Now that I am in leadership roles I am also motivated to help others to fulfil their potential and grow. I am always inspired by the high quality of people that work in this sector and it is a privilege to have the opportunity to make a positive impression on other people’s careers. 

    Over the years you have attended a number of our programs, events and conferences. How has being involved with LG Professionals, SA benefited your career?

    One of the greatest things about attending LG Professionals events is the opportunity to meet and get to know our peers from across the sector. The knowledge that is shared and the friendships and contacts that we gain are invaluable. 

    What value do you place in investing in your own professional development, and what role has professional development played in your career so far?

    I place a high value in investing in my own professional development and I believe that we must all continue to learn and extend ourselves whenever possible. One of my most recent achievements was completing my MBA through the Australian Institute of Business in 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience especially as it exposed me to concepts and ideas from many other sectors, not just Local Government. The most important thing about professional development is it provides the opportunity to continually improve and this then provides us a greater chance at success in serving our community and being successful in our respective roles. 

    You recently completed our Executive Leaders Program. How did you find this experience?

    The Executive Leadership Program was without doubt the most valuable, inspiring and thought provoking experience I have had with regard to professional development. It’s really created a bit of a paradigm shift in my head to be honest. 

    It was a privilege to be part of the inaugural program and I can’t thank Taryn and Kate from LG Professionals, SA and the facilitators Andrew Stevens, Diana Renner and Barry Bales enough for putting the program together. I’m also extremely thankful for the group we had—we were an eclectic bunch from many professions, city and country Councils, and we all had such a great time learning together. I have made some wonderful friends from the program and am so happy I had the opportunity to attend. 

    I thoroughly recommend to everyone in executive leadership roles to attend the next Executive Leaders Program. 

    Do you have any advice for local government professionals looking to work at the executive level in the future?

    My advice to others is simple, don’t be afraid to get out of the comfort zone and back yourself. 

    Finally, what keeps you busy outside of your work in local government?

    I have recently found an interest in gardening, in particular growing veggies, herbs, fruit and the like. In reality my partner is more the gardener, I am more the labourer, but I’m really loving growing some of my own food and it’s a great escape to be in the garden after a day at work.

    I also have a love for writing, which I am trying to devote more time to. I own a share in a race horse which keep me poor rather than busy. And I love being busy listening to music—I have an eclectic musical taste, but am a big fan of Aussie Hip Hop and been following it since almost before it was a thing. I still regularly attend gigs and am looking forward to the Elefant Traks 20th Anniversary shows coming up in November and December. 

  • 25 Sep 2018 11:40 PM | Anonymous

    This month we speak with Deb Richardson, Director, Community Development at the City of Port Adelaide Enfield. 

    Deb speaks to us about her role, her advice for aspiring leaders, what motivates her - and why she values "getting involved"

    What's your current role - and what does it involve?

    I’m the Director Community Development at City of Port Adelaide Enfield.  I get to lead a great group of people to work with our community so PAE can be a place people can experience high wellbeing, have opportunity and generally be somewhere people love to be. 

    It’s easy (and at times relevant) to describe our work as functions such as Libraries, Development Services etc and it’s also important to not lose sight of what they all add up to, the things we’re all really here for. 

    Where were you before? (what‘s your career background to date?)

    Where haven't I been?  I've been doing a career tour of Local Government.  Prior to PAE I was at Adelaide Hills Council as Director Assets and Engineering, which was a step out of community development and recreation where I have spent most of my working life. 

    I started out in recreation and aquatic centres and over time moved into Community Development and then into wider leadership roles.

    What do you enjoy most about working in local government?

    Lots of stuff, especially things starting with “p”…people, public good and just quietly I do like a bit of politics.  I get paid to work as part of our community to help make PAE and our world  the best it can be.  

    I’m challenged, I learn,  I make mistakes, I laugh, I meet interesting people, I see the tangible benefit of our services,  I am part of our democracy and  I try and make a difference, that’s a lot to like.  There is stuff I don’t like too, but you didn’t ask me that and they don’t start with p, so that will mess with the vibe I’ve got goin’ here.     

    You recently attended the inaugural HR conference.  What did you take away from that conference that you could put to use back in your workplace?

    A few things really got me thinking, how we can work more quickly, take a “start-up” approach and still ensure we apply effective governance? 

    I enjoyed hearing from other Councils that are taking a more regular and immediate approach to measuring culture and will also be sharing my personal development plan widely which was suggested as part of the discussion about transparency in organisations. 

    On a lighter note, I enjoyed the laughter yoga, you can’t have too much laughter in life so perhaps we’ll be doing a bit of that at PAE (I can hear people fleeing our office as they read this).

    You regularly attend the GM network forums.  What are the main reasons you stay engaged with the GM forums?  If you were advising another GM to attend – what would you say are the main benefits of attendance?

    In addition to getting to catch up with great peeps, share information and ideas I look forward to being out of my day to day work and returning inspired and energised. 

    As senior leaders we have an obligation to support the development of our industry and we have a unique opportunity to work together to solve the complex problems our society faces without being restricted by a sense of competition and confidentially that would restrict us in a private business environment.  

    And as an added bonus it’s usually fun; good life advice, always sit at the fun table. 

    As a member of LG Professionals, you can sit back or get involved and maximise the value of your membership.   You are clearly someone who gets involved!  What do you see as the main benefits, to you and your council – of getting involved?

    Opportunities to share and learn with others are reminders that we are not only part of a Council, we are part of a wider industry that can work together, share knowledge and ideas and challenge each other to be our best.

    While it does benefit us as individuals in our own learning and career development the biggest benefit should be to the community, they pay us and they deserve us to be the best we can be.  We often talk about having engaged and involved communities and then don’t do it ourselves.

    I’ve also been participating in the Executive Leadership Program.  It’s one of the best learning experiences I’ve been involved in and I’d highly recommended it if you are prepared to challenge yourself and stretch your thinking.

    What advice would you have for someone wanting to further their career in local government?  Where would they start, what skills and attitude would they need, what connections are important?

    If you are already in local government take every opportunity in your workplace, apply for acting roles, join project groups, get involved outside your area of expertise, be prepared to do things you’re scared of and don’t think your career is more important than doing your job.  

    Connect with others in Local Government and also make sure you learn from outside LG especially from all the people in your community, they know lots of stuff that you and I don’t.  

    But most of all remember that a rewarding career in LG is not necessarily about climbing a ladder it’s about doing the best we can, doing what we enjoy and doing something that benefits others.  

    Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work?  How do you spend your leisure time?

    I love trail running, travelling and that I live in a City with art, theatre and a festival for everything! 

    I think my next career move is to be a professional attendee of festivals, if I'm not doing that I'm probably gardening or planning a revolution. 

Mailing Address: 148 Frome Street ADELAIDE SA 5000   Phone: 08 8224 2080   Email: admin@lgprofessionalssa.org.au

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