Overseas Manager Exchanges

This programme is one of a range of SOLGM initiatives that provide leadership and development opportunities specifically tailored to the local government environment. It provides managers within the sector with an opportunity to focus on their management development and career in Local Government through a short exchange with a partner manager in another country.

Many SOLGM members have benefited from the programme and through this professional, personal and cultural experience, most have gone back to their local authorities inspired and armed with a better perspective and increased knowledge of local government. Many exchange recipients are surprised how similar the challenges faced by their overseas colleagues are to their own.

These Exchanges, offered with the support of our sponsors, JLT and Civic Assurance, provide our members with an outstanding opportunity to learn about local government in other countries.

Entries for the five exchanges being offered in 2017 to the United States, British Columbia (Canada), Queensland and New South Wales closed on 1 February 2017 and the recipients were announced at SOLGM's annual Gala Dinner which was held in Auckland on 12 April 2017.

Each exchange involves a hosted visit to the destination country and the hosting of a reciprocal visitor from that country during the time period of the 2017 SOLGM Annual Summit.


Details on the 2017 United States Exchange

The United States Exchanges are sponsored by Civic Financial.

One US exchange is at the City of Mission Hills, Kansas (part of metropolitan Kansas City) and with City Administrator (our chief executive equivalent), Courtney Christensen. The City of Mission Hills has completely outsourced all its work and Courtney has twelve senior staff who oversee all the contracts and manage all the work of the city. The population is 3,600 (Metro population: 2.34 million) and gross expenditure is $US8 million p.a.

The other US exchange is at the Village of South Barrington, Illinois (part of metropolitan Chicago) and with Village Administrator (chief executive) Robert (Bob) Palmer. The Village of South Barrington is ranked the 4 th best community to live in in Illinois and is a ‘high income/high end’ community. Population is 4,565 (Metro population: 9.9 million) and gross expenditure is $US6.8 million p.a.

Details on the 2017 Canadian Exchange

The Canadian exchange is sponsored by JLT.

Liam Nolan, Head of Vertical Capital Delivery and Professional Services-City Services at Christchurch City Council will be going to British Columbia. Liam’s approach was to highlight how the on-going development and regeneration of Christchurch City could benefit from experiencing and understanding the solutions other cities faced with similar issues have employed. His key objective was to provide insights as to how he could achieve a “community centric, affordable, demand based, value for money approach to Christchurch regeneration”. Liam provided a detailed approach to disseminating his experience and learning back to his council.

Details on the 2017 Australian Exchanges

The Australian Exchanges are sponsored by JLT.

Simon Young the Unit Manager of the City Delivery Unit at Hamilton City Council will be going to Queensland. His application was well written with clearly articulated personal and council objectives. Simon demonstrated a good understanding of the issues and challenges facing Queensland particularly with respect to the management of Water and associated water assets. He showed a keen interest in understanding how Queensland managed the ownership operations and respective networks of Asset owners and how the knowledge could be used to help shape and develop a new model of operation in the Hamilton district.

Shanine Raggett the Manager Community Partnerships at Nelson City Council will be going to New South Wales. Shanine’s application was very well rounded and well considered. Shanine’s special area of interest is in community partnerships and she is keen to investigate and benchmark her council against international examples of best practice. She had clearly thought about how her exchange partner could benefit not only from learning about her Councils own practices but demonstrated how she might include and involve other Councils across New Zealand.

2018 Overseas Manager Exchange applications open 17 October 2018.


Sue Davidson, Chief Operating Officer at New Plymouth District Council was the recipient of an Overseas Manager Exchange to British Columbia Exchange and had this to say about her experience:

My overseas management exchange took place over two weeks in June 2016 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. This opportunity enabled me to understand what another countries imperatives for local government were and to visit a number of local authorities to understand their current issues and see how they delivered their services. All the local authorities I visited were helpful and keen to point out their successes and challenges which in turn challenged my thinking and gave me new ideas to bring home. I also found that many of the local government professionals I met, were interested in how we functioned in NZ and could share many of our practices with them . The conference along with the preceding workshops itself highlighted a number of best practices and provided insights to what worked for many organisations. Obviously there were many similarities in our drivers being the passion to do the best for our communities and in the challenges we were facing such as moving forward with digital strategies, citizen participation in decision making and councils working together through sharing services. I valued this exchange because of the learning experience, the collaboration and the many lifelong friendships and networks I have established.

You can read Sue's blog of her experiences here.

About the 2016 Overseas Manager Exchanges

In 2016 SOLGM offered four exchanges to United States, British Columbia, Queensland and New South Wales. The recipients of the 2016 exchanges, announced at our annual Gala Dinner on 14 April, 2016, were:

United States Exchange; Hamish Waugh, General Manager-Infrastructure, Manawatu District Council

Australia, New South Wales Exchange: Katherine Trought, Director Communications and External Relations, Environment Canterbury

Australia, Queensland Exchange: Adrian de Laborde, Engineering Services Group Manager, Hauraki District Council

British Columbia, Canada Exchange: Fiona McTavish, General Manager- Strategy and Science, Bay of Plenty Regional Council

These exchanges are made possible through the support of JLT (Australian and Canadian Exchanges) and Civic Assurance (United States Exchange).

For other leadership development initiatives please refer to our LGLeadership Pathways programme.

For further information on our Exchange programme please contact Fiona Purchas, Manager, Professional Development, fiona.purchas@solgm.org.nz