Tell us about your background and journey through the public sector?
At school I was fascinated by how the human mind works and how our experiences and mindset shape our behaviours and ability to adapt to the unpredictable. I completed a Bachelor of Science focusing on psychology and management majors at Monash Uni, and then a Post Grad Dip of Applied Psychology majoring in Organisational Psychology.
My first ‘real’ job post uni was a graduate role with Deloitte Consulting, focusing on Change Leadership – this was a great introduction in to the corporate wold, while also being able to apply my org psych skills. From there, I moved to the financial services sector in a learning and development role for Diners Club – this role provided a range of wonderful opportunities, including the chance to work internationally in a major offshoring project, and lead a systems operating model transition when Diners Club was bought by Citigroup.
From there I took the big leap into Local Government, not really knowing at all what I was getting into! I spent 9.5 fabulous years at Yarra Ranges Council, working at reshaping how customers experience Council services. From Executive Officer Customer Service, to Manager Innovation & Performance, I gained experience across all levels of operations and service design. My experience at Yarra Ranges heightened my awareness of the fundamental shift local government will need to operationally make to in the near future to remain sustainable, cost efficient, and relevant for the community they serve.
Since November 2018 I have held the role of Director Customer & Business Transformation at the City of Casey. It is my dream role where I get to exercise my skill sets, experience, and passion for creating positive customer experiences and enhancing the quality of life of our communities.
What you are responsible for in your current role and what do you find most engaging about it?
My current role is Director Customer & Business Transformation at the City of Casey, based in Melbourne’s south east. It is a dynamic role, and I love it! Starting in November 2018 I took the opportunity in early 2019 to reshape the functions within the Division, and I now lead the following functions: Technology, Customer & Digital, Improvement & Innovation, Strategy & Business Intelligence and Communications & Marketing
As Victoria’s largest growing Council, no two days are the same – especially when your leading transformative change and delivering front line services to our community. I enjoy the diversity of our community, both culturally and geographically, and am inspired by the very talented people I work with.
How are you working on operational excellence and aligning corporate strategy to improve efficiency, performance and achieve your organisational goals? What challenges are you coming up against and how are you working through these?
What is the most challenging aspect/s of setting the vision, executing the strategy and securing the right workforce and how are you approaching this?
Local government is such a unique environment, that really has few comparisons. Delivering 66 different services, across over 340,000 community members, is not easy. The complexity of local government provides a range of challenges, and it is for this reason that vision and strategy are so important. Because of the diversity of what we ‘do’ in local government, it can be hard to generate a vision that resonates with all – however, through bringing our leadership team together to uncover what does unites us is a great way of gaining commitment. This can then flow through teams and become a foundation for strategy.
We have recently articulated our Organisational Purpose – ‘We lead with passion and courage to enrich lives and empower our communities’ – which is providing a foundation for the development of an Organisational Strategy. This strategy will analyse the conditions – both known and emerging – that our organisation is functioning under and will allow senior leaders to identify and commit to those strategic opportunities and risks we with to pursue and those we wish to avoid. This combined with our current state analysis, will allow us to articulate where we would like to head in the future, the capabilities that will be essential for success, where we are today, and what the gap is. That will inform our Transformation Strategy – which will focus on addressing that gap, and ensuring we develop the right capabilities to support our future state. Exciting times ahead!
How do you define great transformation leadership and what, with regard to this, are you seeing have the most positive effect within your Council?
Transformation is a tricky word – because it can be interpreted, and experienced, very differently. I believe great transformation leadership needs to take a holistic, systems-view
lens of the opportunities for change. Transformational leaders need to have a clear vision, which they visibly embody and live through their values.
Ultimately, effective leaders of change need to understand that success is all about the people – they are any organisation’s most valuable asset and it is absolutely vital to listen and engage with your people, gain their trust and support, and have open, two-way lines of communication. Through building a culture which is connected to the ‘why’ of change, the most effective outcomes will be achieved.
What drives you in working for the Public Sector and where do you feel the focus needs to be on most to improve local government in Australia?
I enjoy seeing the direct impact that the local government sector has upon its community. It’s a tough job trying to deliver over 66 distinctly different services well from a single organisation, but I feel it is our understanding and connection with our community that allows us to do that well. Our community connection, coupled with our talented workforce, are our foundations for change – but there is always opportunity for us to do things better, and that is what drives me.
If there was one aspect that I feel will be the turning point in local government’s ability to perform better and deliver more, it will be how we organise ourselves internally. Local government operating models can be antiquated and generate a lot of waste – I think we can fix that.
Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, online courses, etc.?
All sorts of places! LinkedIn provides some great links to articles and insight, conferences are a great opportunity to connect with other innovators and specialists, and articles from organisations such as McKinsey are always valuable. I have also signed up to an Executive Leadership Development course this year, which will allow me to learn from other senior leaders within local government, as well as experts from various industries. I am very much looking forward to getting started!
Who inspires you and why?
The people I work with inspire my everyday – I am very fortunate to work with a range of smart, progressive thinkers, who have a genuine commitment to fulfilling the role they serve when working in local government. To influence change in our sector for the positive of our community we need to have people with passion, who lead from the front, are not afraid of taking risks, and know how to communicate well – I am surrounded by such people and I appreciate their commitment every day.