Skills were extremely happy to be a part of the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) 2017 Excellence Awards, which took place in Auckland on 12th April.

The Awards included a range of categories recognising innovation in asset management, people development, and policy development. To honour Local Government leaders making a big difference in their communities, Skills developed and presented a Scholarship Award offering one sponsored place at the renowned Mt. Eliza Melbourne Business School. A prize to be proud of.

Skills may be known by most as a key supporter of vocational training, but to us, learning development at higher levels is equally as important. Support is required at all stages if learning is to stand the test of time.

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As Tony McKenna, Sector Manager for Local Government at Skills who presented the Scholarship Award, mentioned “It’s about lifelong learning. Skills are here to support SOLGM in recognising senior leaders doing great work for their communities. It’s often a tough job, so we’re tipping our hats to those that do it well.”

Andy Gowland-Douglas was the lucky winner on the night. She is Chief Executive of Buller District Council and oversees a management team covering the three Council operational areas – Community & Environment, Assets & Infrastructure, and Corporate Services.

“I was really honoured and also excited about the opportunity,” she said of her win, “I know this is a world class programme, and it would have been difficult for my council to fund this given our limited budget.”

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Tony McKenna and recipient Andy Gowland-Douglas

Having started out with a career in Psychology, Andy soon realised her skills lay with bigger picture strategy development. When she became a project manager for local government in the UK in 2000, and then in New Zealand, things seemed to make sense. Feelings of frustration in the past with processes and skills gaps in the sector means she has worked hard to develop her own skills. Now she hopes this Award will teach valuable skills for a small council looking to make a big difference.

Andy will be placed on a one week programme at the Mt. Eliza Melbourne Business School, which is part of their ‘Leading for Strategic Success’ group of programmes - ranked among the best in the world.

Andy went on to say “I believe it is really going to assist me to refine my leadership style and give me new tools to make me more effective as a leader, and in turn, make us a more effective organisation.”

Skills are currently working with SOLGM on a number of learning and development initiatives, including the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative. As a key strategic partner, Skills were more than happy to put together this scholarship. It presents valuable training in a one week package – a huge boost for any senior Local Government individual.

Skills congratulate Andy once again on her win, and look forward to revisiting her at Buller District Council to hear how the scholarship has improved things.