Interview: Warren Gearey, Continuous Improvement Specialist Business Systems & Solutions, City of Salisbury

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

My career started in the mid 80’s at Fujistu Microelectronics in Manchester (UK) as a microelectronics technician. After further  study I was promoted into an Engineer role. In the mid 90’s I moved to Adelaide with my wife and young family. I worked for Motorola, Freescale Semiconductors and finally BAE Systems until 2015. Motorola was where I was introduced to the value of continuous improvement. My  first experience in local government was with Adelaide Hills Council in a Continuous Improvement Project Officer role prior to moving to the City of Salisbury in July 2016. Quite simply my current role of Continuous Improvement Specialist is to develop an organisational approach to continuous improvement and help teams develop specific improvement opportunities as required. It’s a great role because I get to meet a lot of staff across the organisation and help them improve their working worlds.

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

My biggest project is establishing a organisational continuous improvement culture. It’s a long term project but very rewarding. There has been a lot of work involved including developing frameworks, online portals and facilitation tools.  Another large part of this activity is to promote and advocate the significance of continuous improvement to staff across the organisation.

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

I have  learnt that a lot of staff, if they are given the opportunity, are happy to be involved and drive improvements. Each improvement,  no matter how small,  helps. In terms of achievements there have been many.  A few achievements to list are as follow Refreshing the focus on customers whether they are residents, community or our internal staff Seeing teams reap the rewards from their improvement activities. Cumulatively these improvements add up across the organisation. To experience how staff have embraced the continuous improvement culture and are embedding this into their everyday activities. To have staff talk passionately about continuous improvement without me asking them to! To have had conversations with staff who have explained how being involved in continuous improvement teams has helped them develop and to progress their careers.

What excites you most about the future?

There is so much to be excited about. I am looking forward to seeing the staff make further in-roads into more complex improvement activities and to increase their skills along the way. The use of technology that is readily available is also a great opportunity.  The sensible application of technology can help us achieve more and maybe even allow us to perform some services that we can’t current perform.

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

My one piece of advice would be prepared to adapt and change. We are living in exciting times and working in government will change to meet the needs of our community and residents. Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, courses – University, Coursera, internal? I try and keep an open mind on education. It can be found in many locations. I tend to prefer the online offering as I can participate at times of my choosing.  It is good to have immersive education experiences for the more challenging topics.  I find that joining professional networks is a good source of help and support. The really great thing in local government is that many people are more than happy to share and support each other.

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

I am looking forward to seeing what other organisations and people are doing and planning.  How they are driving their organisational activities. What are the plans for adopting new technologies in the local government space.