This repeat business client has gained job interviews from previously prepared applications, steadily progressing through the ranks of the APS. This time around the application involved addressing selection criteria for an EL2 level role (Account Unit Head, National Water) in another APS government department. She was successful in gaining a job interview and was offered the role and accepted. Seven selection criteria required addressing; following are excerpts from three of them.

Superior oral and written communication skills including effectiveness in negotiation, representation and liaison within an inter-disciplinary environment…

I conducted extensive negotiations with the consensus-based XXX Group and water service providers in relation to BBBs and the implementation of an audit regime; of critical consideration was the cost for rural service providers. The negotiation process involved working through all the performance indicators to establish which ones were already subject to audit. It was revealed only a handful of indicators were not being audited and those that could be audited under existing audit processes. Consequently, cost burden was minimal. After an in principle agreement was reached, an audit subgroup of the XXX Group was established. I developed a working paper outlining the proposed approach to implement auditing requirements. This was used to facilitate discussion and resolution of outstanding issues such as the use, nature and scope of the audit reports. Concurrently, I led the undertaking of a comprehensive review of the urban BBB audit regime including a survey of XXX Group members and water service providers’ auditors. Relevant outcomes of that review were fed into the development of the rural audit regime. The audit of rural BBB will commence this financial year.

Ability to build productive working relationships with a wide range of people and to adapt to different working environments…

Over the last two years I led the delivery of the annual urban and rural BBBs; they provided a detailed account of the performance of urban and rural water utilities. I facilitated and chaired urban and AAA groups comprising representatives from state and territories, from the WWW, and the Department of CCC. These representatives collectively managed the collation of BBB data. AAA groups met face-to-face several times a year and on the telephone. The production of BBB reports would not have been possible without the jurisdictions. Furthermore, data in the reports underpin other data collection activities such as detailed state performance reports and regulatory pricing assessments. I formed a close working relationship with many AAA group members who had a strong personal commitment to the process. Understanding and respecting their passion was critical in ensuring strong relationships were maintained. Facilitating meetings involved organising agendas and minutes and ensuring matters were actioned, which all served to build and maintain trust and consensus. This worked very well as the group often effectively reached their own conclusions and decisions, without me having to intervene.

The main challenge encountered throughout the process was the differing state priorities amongst the jurisdictional groups. One very difficult issue was regarding amendments to prior year data. The AAA group had opposing views. This issue was discussed at several meetings without resolution. As the Chairperson, I decided not to make a determination as I felt this would undermine the strong relationships I was forming. Eventually a compromise was reached by agreeing to adjust data (only when it was a significant error) and including an explanatory footnote. Overall, the strong working relationships facilitated signification advancement in the urban and rural BBB reports over a two year period.

Ability to lead and manage human resources consistent with contemporary practices…

Throughout my career as a leader and manager, I have followed and applied various government departments’ and organisations’ comprehensive human resource (HR) policies, procedures and guidelines encompassing contemporary practices. HR practices include: Recruitment and Appointment; Induction, Probation, Confirmation and Termination; Classification and Reclassification; Performance Management, Development and Training; Employee Relations; Absences and Leave; and Equity, Equal Employment Opportunity and Conduct.

Within NNN, I led and managed teams of up to 15 staff; I previously managed teams ranging in size from as small as two up to 25 staff. As a leader, mentor, coach and manager, I inspire a sense of purpose and direction amongst staff. NNN has recently been reviewed and its term has been extended beyond 30 June 2012 (its original sunset clause). The review of the NNN and its uncertainty about its continued existence beyond 30 June 2012 has created an environment of considerable uncertainty. From early 2011, recruitment became impossible and consequently, was only able to fill resource gaps with contractors or not at all. Since this date, whilst working in a dual capacity as both State Manager and Acting General Manager, a key risk I have been managing is the retention of solid performing staff. Also, low morale is an issue requiring addressing as a result of non-ongoing staff (fixed term contractors) departing from March 2012 onward. Staffing numbers within the NNN reduced from approximately 65 full time equivalents to 38 in a very short period of time. To counter these key issues, I established the functionality (expectations and performance plans) and culture of the Sustainability Team; and motivated and drove the team to perform to the best of their abilities whilst ensuring morale and job satisfaction levels remained high.

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Annie Cerone