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Tell us about the journey to your current role and what it this role entails?

In 2018, I attended the Local Government Series and heard the Director of City Future speak about Canterbury-Bankstown Council’s vision to become a Smart City. Now I’m leading the City of Canterbury Bankstown through an ambitious innovation program and helping the largest Council in NSW, by population, to become smarter. A large part of my role involves breaking down silos and building up partnerships not just within our organisation, but across all three tiers of government. I work closely with various parts of the business to build appetite, capacity and capability to innovate and make real improvements for the Canterbury-Bankstown Council community.

Can you describe a project you are working on/recently completed, and any key challenges you have faced along the way and how they were overcome?

While we have a number of Smart Cities projects in the works at present, our major focus is getting the back-of-house in order to be able to support our Smart City ambitions. These are things like policies, procedures, platforms and more. The challenge is that all of these elements are vital, but at the same time not tangible in the same way as Smart City infrastructure. It’s a challenge to keep momentum going when we’re focusing on the less ‘sexy’ elements of Smart Cities, but I’m also very fortunate that our Mayor and Councillors, Executive and staff are all very understanding of the importance to get this foundation piece of work right which will set us up to be much stronger in the long-term.

 

What did you learn from this project? What did it achieve?

I’ve learned to never underestimate how engaged people are in your work. I’ve been consistently surprised by the amount of people who have shown an interest in my work, not just internal staff members or other industry representatives, but also community members and people that work in completely different sectors. Because my focus is on some of the more invisible elements of smart cities, I’ve learned the importance of engaging people in the journey through being incredibly open and honest about the journey, what we’re working on and the key learnings. Overall, this has elevated my work to achieve better results and access a far greater opportunity to reach a better outcome for citizens.

What excites you most about the future?

A better standard of Government which meets the demands and genuine needs of its constituents. I truly believe that digital transformation and government innovation is the best chance we have of achieving this.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to further their career in government, what would it be?

Success isn’t final and failure isn’t fatal. Be patient, persevere and remember the important role you can play in providing a better standard of government.

 

Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, courses – e.g. University, online, internal etc?

There’s always so much to learn and the methods are constantly changing. I recently put my PhD on pause because I just didn’t feel I was getting the value I wanted out of it when compared to other more innovative and untraditional learning avenues.

I currently spend 2 hours a day minimum committed to learning, and I try to push myself out of my comfort zone with topics to further broaden my knowledge. You’ll rarely find me engaging with content about innovation, rather a broad range of topics that I can relate back to innovation. This is everything from learning about why we sleep to the psychological connection between identity and place.

My  current main channels of learning are:

Using my idle time in the car or while doing simple tasks to listen to audio books and podcasts;

Tapping into my network and the wealth of knowledge there (LinkedIn is great for this);

Using a mobile and desktop app (I use pocket) to aggregate all the articles I want to read;

Reading literature reviews and summaries rather than burying myself in a bottomless pit of research.

What are you most looking forward to at the Local Government series?

It’s always so useful to have an opportunity to hear what people are doing in the industry especially their key learnings.  I’m excited to learn more about what work we can move forward and iterate on as a sector rather than multiple government agencies reinventing the wheel to reach the same outcome.