March 2024

BGS NZ Member Spotlight: Carol's Journey of Public Service and Community Engagement.

In the latest installment of our Member Spotlight series, we are thrilled to feature Carol, a dedicated public servant whose commitment to fostering community engagement and good governance shines brightly within Auckland Council's Governance Division.

As the Team Leader of Operations and Policy within Local Board Services, Carol plays a pivotal role in advising, supporting, and facilitating the processes that underpin effective local decision-making. Her career is a testament to the power of dedication, empathy, and adaptability in public service. Through this Q&A, we aim to delve into Carol's inspiring journey, exploring the passions that drive her and the accomplishments that define her. Join us as we uncover the story of a professional who has made significant strides in enhancing community voices and governance practices, reflecting the essence of what it means to serve with purpose and integrity.

Q. Where do you work, and what is your current job title?

A. I work at Auckland Council in the Governance Division. I am currently the Team Leader of Operations and Policy within Local Board Services. What this means in practice is that we provide advice, support, and facilitation of a number of things to support good local decision-making and good governance processes.

Q. What led you to choose your career and/or industry?

A. I've always been interested in the principles of democracy and enjoy working with the community and politicians to help ensure that local decisions reflect the voices of the wider community.

Q. What is a professional and/or career highlight you're proud of?

A. A couple of years ago, I was appointed one of the inaugural Fellows of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Australasia in recognition of my service to the organisation and to the developing profession of community engagement within Australasia. My role with IAP2 has included being a regional coordinator, Board member, awards judge, conference organiser, and ambassador.

Q. What is one skill you think is important to learn or improve today?

A. It's hard to pin this down to one skill, but here are a couple that are top of mind. I think it’s important to have empathy – enhancing your skills in building understanding and connection with the people around you. I also think it’s important to have adaptability, as the way we work and the environment we live in is constantly changing, so we need to have the skills to be able to evaluate what’s needed and consider what we might need to do differently.

Q. What is a key lesson you've learned in your career?

A. To try and put yourself in the shoes of your leaders or managers - what do they need, what would help them, and how to make their lives easier where possible.

Q. Is there any book, podcast, or resource that has really impacted your work life?

A. One that really resonated with me many years ago was "The Wisdom of Crowds." It is a really interesting piece of work that helped me to understand the power of people's voices, which can sometimes provide better answers than the experts.

Q. What do you like to do when you're not working and why?

A. I like a balance of social interaction, exploring, and being active - I'm not good at sitting still and always enjoy meeting new people and learning new things. One of my out-of-work activities is to be involved in my local community. I love the sense of belonging and of being able to make a difference in the area I live.

Carol's journey within the realm of public service and community engagement is a shining example of how dedication, empathy, and a commitment to democracy can effect meaningful change. Through her work, Carol has not only enhanced the fabric of her community but also set a benchmark for what it means to be a leader in the public sector. Her story is a powerful reminder of the impact one individual can have on the lives of many, driving forward the principles of good governance and community participation.

We invite you to draw inspiration from Carol's experiences and consider how you might contribute to your own community or field of work. Whether through public service, community engagement, or simply by fostering empathy and adaptability in your daily life, there are endless opportunities to make a difference. If Carol's story has inspired you, or if you have your own story to share, we encourage you to reach out. Let's continue to support each other, share our journeys, and contribute to a world where every voice is heard and valued.

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