At Charterhouse, we believe in building partnerships with people and organisations that reflect and reinforce our value of people over placements, always. We have a continued focus on people and a desire to provide all clients and candidates with an exceptional experience from the minute they walk through our door. And we also aim to provide an environment where our recruiters and staff are encouraged to be themselves and give their best.
Have you considered a career in Local Government?
It can be a very rewarding one.
· You’ll be working for a community minded organisation
· Career progression – across the organisation and into management
· Work-life balance and flexibility
· Collaborative and inclusive teams who care about the work they are doing
We interviewed Aoife Mulligan, Coordinator of Administration and Prosecutions at Yarra City Council. She was kind enough tell us about her journey. Aoife started as a Charterhouse temporary contractor on a working holiday visa with no previous local government experience to now, a permanent member of staff managing a larger department.
Had you ever considered a career in local government before you were approached by Charterhouse?
I didn’t know what local government did or what it was about really before I was approached about the role from Charterhouse. There are so many different teams, departments, roles, and responsibilities that a local council have. I didn’t have any exposure of it beforehand.
Talk us through your journey at the City of Yarra, the roles you have completed and where you are now?
I met with Charterhouse and the opportunity for City of Yarra was open at the time, so a conversation with the council was set up, and I was successful. The first day they put me on the phones, and I sat there for a few months. Jackie came onboard as the team leader of the business support team. She had a heavy focus on stats, accountability, training, developing, and empowering her staff. One day I remember looking around and some of the team had gone off to training on leadership and I wondered if I needed to do this. When you are not here full time, your brain isn’t really thinking about Australia long term either, so I asked Jackie in a 1:1 do you think I should do the training and the next thing I know I am in 5 different training sessions. She made me the ‘go to person’ when she was on days off, and I was also in an Acting role as Team Leader when she was on leave for a week or two which was a great learning opportunity. That’s when I got a taste of leadership. Then another Team Leader went on parental leave and so another opportunity arose for 4 months. I was lucky enough to be taken a chance on.
"It was the support and development opportunities council gave me, that helped me get to where I am today"
The initial 4-month contract turned into a year and then another opportunity came up to go into the permits team. That was about developing my skill set more than anything else.
"You need to step sideways sometimes to go forward."
I was in that team for a year and a half and then I got itchy feet again. After I was in that role for around 18 months, there was an opportunity that arose in the compliance department, and I thought about the role but didn’t do anything about it for a day or two. A colleague approached me later and said I should put my hand up for it. It was for 6 months at the time, and I thought why not? Again, it was more about developing my skill set. I was then made permanent in March.
Congratulations. You have mentioned you were given a ‘chance’ several times, but people only get it if you put in the hours.
You put in the hours, even on the difficult days, but if you put your head down and work, I think you will do well.
How long have you been at City of Yarra now?
I have been at City of Yarra for 8 years. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. I’m a very different person to the person I was when I started. I was terrified, shy, and I was quite happy sitting in the corner, and now I am managing a large department and have build a wealth of skills around leadership and project management.
What do you enjoy most about working at City of Yarra?
The people. The support that you get, work/life balance is great. I have needed to go home in a hurry because of an emergency. The council tell you to go, they will figure something out, and that level of support and understanding goes a very long way. They develop staff incredibly well and really focus on Learning and Development. They have paid for specific training for me to elevate my skills - they put effort into the people they believe in and the people they want to progress. In such a multifaceted environment, there are so many opportunities - I have had 5 different roles and all of them have been an upwards or learning step in some way.
What factors have contributed to your success at City of Yarra?
My personality has gone a long way. A great deal of my work is complaints driven and being able to sit down and have a positive approach to things and a good sense of humour, is a big part of it and not to take it to heart when people have issues. Some days you come in and have a list of things to do and you don’t tick anything off, it’s just letting it go and thinking tomorrow is another day. Work ethic as well, I have put in the hours but I get so much job satisfacation from what I do.
"Relationship building has been key, it is important to build relationships right across the company as you never know when you are going to need them."
What advice would you give someone looking to get into local government?
I mentioned it earlier, I just saw this as a temporary job opportunity at the very start and wasn’t looking to be here for more than a year, so my advice is to allow yourself to be a bit more open-minded and see this as the start of your career. It was for me; I came from doing some temp work back in Ireland and my career hadn’t kicked off. There are so many different opportunities in local government and so many different teams – Communications, Marketing, HR, Safety, Building, Rates & Revenue, Local Law, Planning, Leisure, etc, and all of these you don’t normally realise are in an organisation like this.
What would you say about some of the myths and misinterpretations of what Council is really like?
Council is a big ship, that’s how we always describe ourselves – it takes a while to turn. There is a heavy focus on employee wellbeing. Although we don’t have the budgets compared to corporate organisations it’s the little wins that are a big success to us. Another thing to note is about the culture in local government. There is an assumption that people stay in their roles for years and years and have a mentality of not wanting to change, however, it is being addressed. I’ve seen a positive change in the last couple of years. We are moving toward a more diverse and flexible workforce.
If you are interested in a Local Government role, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
At Charterhouse, we embrace, and value, diversity of culture, working arrangements, sexual orientation, and gender identity. On behalf of our client, we promote a workplace that actively seeks to include and welcome unique contributions of all people; to embrace and celebrate the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, their skills and contributions to the workplace.