Michelle Gilliver-Smith
Michelle has been a member with LG Professionals, NSW since early 2011 and has been actively engaged regularly attending events and joining the committee of the HR Professionals Member Network.

What was your first job in local government?

My first job in local government was as the Human Resources Manager for Port Stephens Council back in 2007.

What was it about local government that attracted you?
I had never really worked in the public sector before that but wanted a sea change and the opportunity arose to move to Port Stephens so I took it.  Prior to working for Council, my perception of local government was that they collected my rubbish and made it difficult for me to renovate my house!  I was completely unprepared for the diversity of services provided by local government and how challenging and interesting the sector is.

What advice can you offer to younger people that might be considering a career in local government? 
Local government provides a myriad of opportunities for younger people. It is a great industry to grow your career and have diverse experiences. It is extremely supportive of lifelong learning and I have met so many people who have such wonderful career stories about their time in local government.  If you are interested in working somewhere that makes communities a better place to live and where you can really get great satisfaction from the work you do, then local government is for you.

What is the thing you are most proud of in your role? 

I’m really proud of the achievements our organisation has been able to make in the people space over recent years.  We have a great employee value proposition and brand which has enabled us to attract and retain the right people at the right time for the right roles. Our engagement scores are in the top quartile of Australasian organisations and our focus on continuous improvement makes our work interesting and innovative. Our safety culture is fantastic and we have been able to minimise injuries to a very low level in the workplace and recently have been recognised with the SafeWork NSW Award of Excellence in Work Health and Safety Culture for big business. Mostly though I’m just proud of my team. Such a wonderfully cohesive group of people who are committed to excellence and helping to making Port Stephens Council a great place to work. Without any doubt PSC has the best workplace culture of anywhere I have worked in my career.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

The diversity of local government means that every aspect of human resource management and corporate risk management is challenging!  But to me challenging equals interesting. There is always a new situation or a new problem to solve and it’s why 10 years on I could not imagine leaving local government.  The reform that the sector has gone through and is still dealing with is professionally very rewarding to be part of, with all of its difficulties and problems.  Solving problems through innovation and collaboration is what I love to do.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?
Yes. My almost lifelong hobby has been genealogical research. I love uncovering the stories of my ancestors and connecting with people across the planet.  The ancestor who first made me want to get involved in family history research was  my great grandfather, William Gilliver.  He was  elected to Bankstown Council in 1899 and served on the Council until 1911. He was Mayor from 1900 to 1902 and also in 1909 and 1910. Curiously he was also Mayor of Vaucluse for the period 1907 to 1909. He was passionate about developing and growing communities and I often wonder what he would think of his great grand daughter who found her way into the sector and loves the fact that what she does makes a positive difference in the community in which she lives.