Jeff, what do you do in your role and how long have you been doing it?
I joined Devonport City Council in February 2018 so approaching four years. I joined in the role of Executive Manager Corporate Services and transitioned in 2020 to Deputy General Manager. I have quite a diverse portfolio that includes planning, building, plumbing, environmental health, risk, safety, customer service, parking, community services, information technology, business systems and records. Having had a background in a large corporate focused on process and systems, I have been driving substantial organisational change and transformation leveraging improved processes supported by digital transformation.
What made you want to work in Local Government?
Much of my career has been in business working for Caterpillar dealers starting in the US. I was hired by WesTrac in Perth Western Australia in the late 90’s and enjoyed a 15-year career with them. My wife grew up in Burnie, so we saw an opportunity to move to Tasmania about 7 years ago. I needed to explore all opportunities and diversify my experience. Leaving WesTrac, where I was Chief Information Officer and moving to Tasmania taking on a role as General Manager at Shearwater Resort is substantial career change. After Shearwater Resort, I took on a role as General Manager for a Tasmanian technology company. I had the opportunity to connect with many in local government and could see that council operations were in need of modernisation. Government is often seen as slow moving with a lot of red tape. I have found over my career that I enjoy those opportunities that allow me to leverage my skills and experience to drive substantial organisational change. Devonport City Council has provided that opportunity and over the past 4 years an incredible level of change initiatives have been undertaken resulting in a council that has modern processes and systems and a dynamic organisational culture.
What made you join LG Professionals Tasmania?
I am big believer in the power of collaboration and LG Professionals Tasmania provides an excellent opportunity to connect and network with peers in the sector. We are better when we work together and learn from each other.
What interests do you have outside of work?
I have two teenage boys that keep my wife and I quite busy feeling like a combination of chauffer and bank. We loved to travel and did so extensively prior to COVID two years ago and hope that we might get that opportunity again in the near future. Other than that, we enjoy spending time with family and friends and trying new restaurants.
If you could give your 12-year-old self-1 piece of advice, what would it be?
Enjoy life, don’t be so serious and worry less.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Most people can place my accent as North American, but most do not know that I grew up in Little Rock Arkansas and that I went to Louisiana Tech University and after graduating started my career working as a manager for what we now know as EB Games. My love of technology began early at a time when there was very limited use in business.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector at the moment?
Attracting a younger generation into local government will continue to be a challenge. Modernising operations and using digital platforms to improve service delivery will be a challenge for many Councils but doing so may make local government more attractive to a younger generation.
There will always be pressure to deliver more services to the community and improve service delivery while maintaining or reducing costs. This can be done by modernising council operations and leveraging digital platforms to deliver more services. Unfortunately, councils struggle to secure the skills and resources needed to drive this necessary change. Disruption, more substantial than Covid, is likely to occur within the next 5 years which will force councils to take action to remain relevant.
Biggest regret outside of work in the past 10 years?
Bitcoin was $1 in 2011. $1000 of bitcoin purchased in 2011 would be around $60m dollars today. Huge regret!!! ☹