Tell us what the best part of your Overseas Manager Exchange was?

The best aspect of this programme is the exchange arrangement, to host someone in your own place and then experience the hospitality of being hosted overseas. My exchange manager came from a small town in Wisconsin and I took great pride in hosting him in Christchurch and accompanying him to the SOLGM conference in Napier where one of the highlights for my visitor was the warm, moving Pƍwhiri welcoming us to the conference. It felt very rewarding to showcase our country and share what we are doing and achieving in local government. I also got to visit Nashville and attend the ICMA conference with over 5000 other delegates all there because of their interest and passion for working in local government. As well as a varied line up of keynote speakers, and conference streams, the conference offered a number of field trips which were a great way to get out and see things first hand and meet and talk with other delegates. There was a large number of international delegates at the conference which provided the opportunity to learn about practices from all over the world. With an interest in urban living models and sustainability, I went on a field trip to a neighbourhood known as the Gulch, a dynamic mixed-use environmentally certified community with a strong focus on connectivity, walkability and public transport in the heart of Nashville. It was a great opportunity to share the story of Christchurch and see what other cities are doing to create sustainable neighbourhoods.

What was your biggest learning from your Overseas Manager Exchange to the USA?

Participating in the exchange provided me with a cultural, professional and personal development opportunity. One of things that struck me from my exchange experience, is that irrespective of the size of communities or different political systems, there is a strongly held belief that local government plays a significant role in making a difference to communities sometimes through small steps or through creating opportunities through large scale partnerships and it was interesting to hear about the different initiatives and share ideas of what can be done. Secondly, I was struck by how progressive we are in New Zealand with some of our ideas and practices, particularly with regards to our approach to engaging with communities on issues and our understanding and participation in wellbeing conversations. Despite being a small nation, we have a strong story to tell that other people are interested in and it was reinforced to me that we should place great value on this.

What advice do you have for others thinking of applying for an Overseas Manager Exchange?

Take a look at the blogs to get an idea of what other exchange managers have done and get in touch with them to find out more or get some tips on making an application.

Remember, people around the world are really interested in what we are doing in New Zealand and think about your own professional career and how you can share this with others and grow your own knowledge and experience. This is the essence of your application.

Read Emma's Overseas Manager Exchange blog