We interviewed Alan Adcock of Whangarei District Council who went on an Overseas Manager Exchange to Australia in 2019. Like to go on an Overseas Manager Exchange yourself? Applications are open for 2020 Awards, Exchanges and Scholarships and close on 21 February 2020.

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

It’s hard to pick out a single thing, because the whole experience was great. There is obviously a social aspect that is very enjoyable – overseas travel, interacting with my host and their family, attending conferences etc. – but there’s much more to it than that. The visit gave me an appreciation of the different challenges other councils face and many things we could be doing differently (or just better!). But while I identified a number of ‘opportunities for improvement’, it also highlighted for me that our council is already doing a lot of things well – which is both reassuring and affirming as a leader of our organisation.

What was your biggest learning from your Overseas Manager Exchange to Australia?

    Rather than a new learning, I got a strong reminder that there are many ways to solve a problem – and the solutions you choose have to fit within the overall context of your organisation over time. This means that we can’t be complacent about the things we put in place and just keep repeating them over and over again, which is easy to do in our sector. The environment we operate in is constantly changing – politically, socially, economically and physically – and if we aren’t constantly looking ahead for impending changes and influences many of the things we have in place now won’t remain effective in the future – or link with other processes or initiatives the way we intend.

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

      Don’t just think about it – do it! While it can be a bit disruptive (as it’s effectively involves a week of juggling work and home commitments for each leg of the exchange), it is definitely worth it!