Tell us a bit about what you did prior to joining SOLGM?
Before joining SOLGM I worked for a council for 4 years which is what gave me the ‘local government’ bug. I really enjoy the environment and the sense of being able to make a difference for New Zealand communities every day, so the role at SOLGM feels like a great fit. I have also worked as a volunteer with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) in Papua New Guinea and Tonga, and working so closely with small, local communities in these countries was an absolute privilege.
What do you think are some challenges facing those in the HR space in local government?
The one thing I took from working in Papua New Guinea and Tonga is that ‘people are people’, and the challenges are very similar wherever you may work. Having said that the LG sector is facing a real challenge in attracting a workforce that is more diverse, and more representative of the communities we work in. We need to ensure we attract younger, and a more diverse range of people, to work in and with their communities. We also need to ensure that the work environment and workplace culture we create in our councils is future-focused, flexible and engaging so that people are proud to say, “I work for my local council”.
Is there any advice you have for those working in HR in local government?
Not advice as such, but acknowledgement that we have hundreds of great HR professionals working within the same context, whether they are at a small rural council or a large city one. They are all part of a large network of people who share and collaborate around good work practices – part of our role at SOLGM is to help connect across those networks so every council can benefit from this shared experience, knowledge and resource. This is particularly important for smaller councils who often have limited resources available to deliver for their communities.
Tell us about some of the exciting projects you are working on at the moment?
Since I joined SOLGM a couple of months ago I’ve been focused on making sure we build on the great work that has been and continues to be done at SOLGM, and more broadly in the sector. I’m really excited to be working with the Workforce Working Party which is a talented group of chief executives and HR professionals, to help share good practice, and address the challenges in attracting people to our 'hard-to-fill’ roles such as planners, engineers, and building services teams. My team is also working on the key elements of being a LG leader, for example, the importance of bi-cultural leadership, ethical leadership, leading our communities to understand what the well-beings mean for them, and how they achieve participation for what really matters in their backyard. We’re planning an event for early 2020 to challenge and inspire chief executives and senior leaders to “turn local government on its head”, and translate their plans and actions into their community’s aspirations. It’s a really exciting time to be in local government, feeling like you can make a difference to people’s lives in the place that matters to you – He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.
What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of work I love walking and getting out and about with my husband in the Wellington area. There’s such a diverse range of landscapes, and my particular favourite is being at a beach regardless of whether it’s calm and sunny, or rough and windy; which it often is in Wellington!
We also enjoy catching up with good friends over a meal and a glass of something, and making the most of the great range of theatre there is in Wellington.