Could this be Gympie region’s most influential woman?
PAULINE Gordon takes the driver’s seat of the Gympie Regional Council organisation at a challenging and interesting time.
A new mayor, mostly new councillors and probably a new direction are among the important challenges she will face, with COVID-19 just to make it interesting.
New mayor Glen Hartwig and eight elected councillors, five of them new, will determine the council’s approach and direction.
Keeping the machinery of council running smoothly and efficiently on the track they choose is what the Chief Executive Officer does.
Ms Gordon will occupy that role in an acting capacity, pending the appointment of a permanent CEO.
“Challenging but rewarding,” she said yesterday as she contemplated the weeks to come.
She was speaking outside Gympie Civic Centre, where new councillors were learning their craft.
With 30 years in local government, in Victoria and Queensland, Ms Gordon has led council teams through two demanding and very different amalgamations.
That was a challenge too.
“My first council was Bendigo and then Greater Bendigo, which came from the amalgamation of six former councils.
“We were market tested against the private sector, with compulsory competitive tendering and our submissions had to show we were competitive.
“We won and we were highly sought after by other government operations after that.”
Migrating to Queensland saw her involved in another and very different council merger, the one that created the Sunshine Coast Regional Council out of the former councils of Maroochy, Noosa and Caloundra.
“At one stage I had 800-plus staff in the Community Program area, from lifeguards to librarians, from gardens to quarries.
Not that she pretends to know all about all those fields.
“You don’t do it all yourself. You have experts. It’s how you lead people that makes the difference.
“Community engagement is my biggest passion,” she said, “genuine community engagement.”
She occupies the CEO position on a temporary basis following the resignation of previous CEO Bernard Smith.
She will keep the wheels turning and steer the operation on behalf of councillors who were yesterday learn some of the technical sides of their new craft.
She will do that until a permanent CEO is appointed, a process that will take some time.
Ms Gordon was unanimously endorsed by councillors to act in the role until the position can be filled full-time.
Mayor Glen Hartwig said Ms Gordon’s previous experience in the job was a key part of the decision.
“I believe she has the confidence of the council,” Mr Hartwig said.
Will she be applying for the permanent position?
Ms Gordon declined to comment but asked to not even be quoted on that.
“I’m proud to have been appointed in such an intense period, in such difficult times,” she said.
A Gympie resident, she revealed an enthusiasm for regional communities.
“I think people have said the council would take its COVID-19 directions from Queensland Health.
“Most of our staff are still working, in the office and out in the field,” she said.
“Our teams are still out and about and we will be ready when we re-open.”