Applications are now open for our 2019 Overseas Manager Exchanges. This year we have four exchanges up for grabs; one to the US, sponsored by Civic Financial Service, one to Canada (British Columbia) and two to Australia (Queensland and New South Wales), sponsored by JLT.

One of our 2018 recipients, Barbara Whitton, Customer Relations Manager at Western Bay of Plenty Council, reflects on her rewarding and stimulating experience in Mt Gambier, a small city in South Australia:

My whirlwind trip included so many new things to absorb and proved to be an incredibly stimulating two weeks. My exchange partner was Nick Searle, General Manager City Infrastructure with the City of Mt Gambier Council. Within the first week I had met with business and customer services staff, and tourism and library staff within Mt Gambier and surrounding councils. Everyone was very warm and welcoming including the mayor, councillors and senior staff.

It was both rewarding and revealing to share the experiences of others in developing and implementing significant changes within their organisations, including a major project to relocate staff from three different locations into one building, the introduction of a 'paperless office', and hot desking with spaces for collaborative or focused work. The spaces, which were thoughtfully designed, and provide considerable cost savings, had also resulted in more collaboration between staff, a better understanding of roles, and the ability to have conversations with different colleagues.

I heard about many innovative approaches to problem-solving and realised that, while we may all adopt a different approach and be at different stages, as local government organisations we all experience similar issues.

Another highlight was being in Canberra for the for the leadership coup within the Liberal party with Scott Morrison replacing Malcolm Turnbull as sixth Australian Prime Minister within 11 years!

I was also been very fortunate to see so much of the countryside in a region where so much is on offer - stunning natural scenery and wildlife with vineyards on the doorstep.

I would highly recommend the Overseas Manager Exchange programme to anyone looking to expand their local government experience, and take a step outside their comfort zone for a while.

Find out more at SOLGM.org.nz/Awards2019

Read Barbara's blog posts here