14 August 2015

Interview with Jeff Tate - former CEO of the City of Onkaparinga and Director of Jeff Tate Consulting

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Local government in Australia is facing unprecedented challenges. There are a range of emerging drivers for this including the mass adoption of new technologies such as cloud based services, the rapidly evolving relationship between government and citizens (G2C) and the need to be more collaborative and innovated than ever before.

So, I caught up with Local government expert, Jeff Tate - former CEO of the City of Onkaparinga, Director of Jeff Tate Consulting and facilitator of the Business Improvement in local Government Masterclass to get his insights on what local councils should be prioritizing in 2015-16.

Luana: Jeff, firstly thank you for joining me today. You’ve had a long history of working in local government including 20 years’ experience as a local government CEO and a total of 40 years working in the sector.

Firstly, what attracted you to working in local government?

Jeff: (chuckles) Yes, do you want the real story?

Luana: Yes please!

Jeff: I stumbled into it after finishing school. I really wasn’t sure what I going to do and then an opportunity came up in a local shire council in central Victoria. It felt like a good fit so I took it.  There were only 4 people in the office at the time so it turned out to be a very good grounding.

Quite quickly, I became involved in more senior roles and had a pretty rapid rise while studying part-time. I studied part time for 18 years all up finishing with a MBA.  

Luana: So what are you most passionate about?

Jeff: In work? (smiles) Improving the performance of local government. Maintaining and improving its relevance to communities and within the system of government.

Luana: How can local councils strengthen their business improvement strategies?

Jeff: First you need a framework for it. I prefer that organisations develop their own rather than just apply off the shelf solutions  so that  they  go through the learning.

Secondly, you must be committed to keep working at it over time and not give up. Also, recognize that it will take resources of its own.

Lastly, it has to be led from the top.

Luana: Ok so a top down approach is critical?

Jeff: Yes that’s right. CEO and senior management is essential.

Luana: What is the one thing all local councils should know regarding financial sustainability?

Jeff: I suspect that we know less about financial sustainability than we think we do. There is a long way to go yet before we really have a full understanding.

Luana: What should local councils be prioritizing in 2015-16?

Jeff: Having a clear understanding of what they are there to do.

Luana: Well Jeff, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for joining us today.
To hear more expert advice from Jeff get along to Akolade’s Business Improvement in Local Government masterclass.

We look forward to seeing there!

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