From Town Clerk to GM to CEO: Helping make other’s dreams come true
They used to be called Town Clerks. Now General Manager is out, and Chief Executive Officer is in with Orange Council looking for a new administrative head for the city.
And the name-change for our most-important bureaucrat is significant for indicating the change to a wider scope of operation, Councillor Joanne McRae believes.
“I think it reflects that broader role that we’re looking for in a modern corporate environment,” Cr McRae said.
For Cr McRae, the ideal candidate will be both a good hands-on manager and an ideas person for Council’s 400 staff and $170 million annual budget.
“Philosophically, the leader of a Council needs to balance a managerial and administrative spirit with an entrepreneurial spirit, a balance between both,” she explained.
Cr McRae believes that the newly-minted Chief Executive Officer will be taking-over from former General Manager, Garry Styles, a reasonably well-run city.
“Broadly speaking, Orange is tracking well; but we will need to know how to grow sustainably,” she said.
“Orange is really booming, but how do we manage growth in a sustainable manner while managing our water assets and not encroaching on productive agricultural land?
“How do we continue to manage quality of life, lifestyle, and liveability?” she asked.
Orange City Life believes that the recruitment agency enlisted to lead the hunt for a new Council head has whittled a good field of candidates down to a short-list of about seven who are to be interviewed on Monday, September 2 by a group of four councillors, a representative of the recruitment agency, and an independent.
An extraordinary Council meeting will then be held on Tuesday, September 10 where the full Council will have the opportunity to put the top two or three candidates through their paces.
Cr Tony Mileto believes that the best candidate should have both administrative skills and vision with new ideas for the City coming from the elected councillors, the Mayor, and the Deputy Mayor.
“Predominantly their role is to administer the work of the Council…We need to make sure the right person gets the job; rather than just filling the role,” he said.
Ï think as long as we get the right person as an administrator; they will have their vision and they will then be able to sell that vision to us,” Cr Mileto explained.
He says that the challenge facing Council’s first-ever CEO revolves-around maintaining stability within Council.
“They need to understand the beast itself; there’s not a bucket of money; we have to target the most significant grants,” he said.
He said finishing the Southern Distributor Road, the “gateway to the new health precinct” was a major project that would improve access to Orange and its services.
Chair of Council’s Employment and Economic Development Policy Committee; he wants the new CEO to take a particular interest in economic growth for the city and surrounds. “He or she will want to have a say on major projects,” he said.
“Economic development and employments opportunities should also continue to grow, and we need to attract new residents,” Cr Mileto said.
He said that the continuing challenge to local retailers from online shopping should be a priority for Council in the future.
“We need to upgrade the central business district (CBD) to meet the challenges of online shopping; we need to improve accessibility to shopping; our retailers have to be competitive,” Cr Mileto said.
Colin Young from Orange Residents and Ratepayers Association believes that, for a CEO, honesty and integrity should be the first attributes considered. “You’ve got to start with good ethical standards and then good people skills and to be able to make decisions based on facts.”
He says that Council could be more active in developing the city. He points to Bathurst Regional Council’s role as land-owner and developer of new estates as a different model for Orange.
“When you compare ourselves to Bathurst, they’ve adapted a role as developer for Bathurst. They acquire land, develop it, and control it to sale. They are working to a Masterplan. Orange on the other hand has umpteen developers all going in different directions …It’s very much more of a piecemeal approach.”
“The really critical thing is you come up with a good plan and stick to it,” he said.
He points to the increasing development around the North Orange bypass that he says was originally intended to be an alternative route for heavy vehicles, but which has become a boom satellite suburb of the city with increasing congestion.
“The first thing they did was put traffic lights in and allowed developers to build estates there,” he said.
Final word on the search for Council’s first CEO can go to founding Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Herbert Cole "Nugget" Coombs who once described the role of the bureaucrat as “to make other people’s dreams come true.” The question is, will Orange be able to find the bureaucrat to make the Council and residents’ dreams come true?