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Back and white portrait of Liz Ledger

Photo: Town of Claremont CEO Liz Ledger

 

Liz Ledger has been the CEO at Town of Claremont for four years and worked for the town for over 11 years. She has over 25 years’ experience in local government.

Here, Liz talks about her role as CEO, women in leadership and an exciting future for the Town of Claremont.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My love for the arts (but lack of skills in it) led me to competing a Bachelor Arts — Arts Management at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. This led to my first ‘real’ job at the City of Wanneroo as an arts officer. After travelling and living overseas for a while, I returned to Perth and to local government, and have been fortunate to have had opportunities for growth along the way. I’m passionate about creating great places to connect, both for our community and for our workforce.

What was it that attracted you to the role of CEO and what are your key achievements? 

Prior to commencing in this role as CEO, I was working at the town as Executive Manager People and Places. I was fortunate to be working with a CEO, Stephen Goode, who supported and challenged me. He planted the seed in my head to take on the role in an acting capacity when he decided to move on. I have been grateful for the confidence both Stephen, the mayor and elected members had in me to take that step. After 12 months acting in the role, I was appointed to the position of CEO in 2018. 

Something I’m most proud of is creating a culture where people enjoy coming to work. Our most recent culture survey told us that more than 90 per cent of the staff enjoy their team, feel respected and believe their manager and leaders contribute to a positive work culture. To me, that’s an amazing outcome.

What are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I hope to continue working in an environment where I can accomplish positive things, work with great people and hopefully make things better than they were before. One area I am passionate about is removing red-tape and hurdles for businesses. I was recently invited to participate in a committee chaired by Local Government Minister John Carry focused on reducing red tape in local government. Local government approvals can be difficult for small business to navigate, with significant differences in approaches by councils. If I can be part of the solution to streamlining processes and create consistency across local government, I would see that a significant achievement.   

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities of being a woman in a local government leadership role?

There is still a level of difficulty for some people to accept women in leadership positions and be comfortable with what that actually looks like.  We are different at leading; we are typically more humble, caring, and empathetic.  It’s coming to terms with these differences and accepting them as the norm. I think leaders like Jacinta Ardern in New Zealand have done a great job at showing the world what strong female leadership can look like; leading with empathy and kindness at the top of the agenda.  

How do we get more women into local government leadership roles?

You’ve probably heard the statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60 per cent of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100 per cent of them. I think more female leaders need to back themselves and take the leap. When it comes to taking the next step in their careers women need to believe more in themselves, but importantly believe less in what appear to be the rules. 

What are the key community challenges and opportunities at the town and how are you approaching these?

The Town of Claremont is facing similar challenges to most local governments; budget and funding challenges, pressure on housing and density; changing community expectations and attracting and retaining the talent we need to deliver the programs and services the community expects from us. We’re lucky to be operating from a strong financial position, so we’ve been able to invest significantly in recent years in major capital works. In the past four years, we have commenced or completed a number of significant projects to add to the amenity of the town. This includes the Claremont Museum redevelopment, the McKenzie Pavilion redevelopment, and a number of improvements at the aquatic centre. 

As the population of Claremont continues to grow and diversify, our focus is on listening to the community and reflecting their aspirations in everything we do. The challenge is in balancing the desires of the community with State Government requirements, and to protect local characteristics such as the heritage of our town, its open space, tree canopy and other environmental values.

Tell us about something great the town is working on.  

The town is at an exciting place in terms of growth and development. We are currently working on a number of important plans that will shape the future of the town, including a local planning strategy and precinct structure plan for the town centre. These plans will guide the design and planning for the town including more commercial, residential and entertainment opportunities. This will contribute to building a vibrant hub for not only our community, but WA.

We recently launched a Night-Time Economy Grants program to proactively provide funds to businesses who contribute to the vibrancy of the town centre. We’ve also established a business support team to assist new and existing businesses in Claremont. The cross-functional team will be a 'one stop shop' for businesses contacting the town, with the aim of removing red tape and reducing hurdles for businesses where possible.

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Page reviewed 07 September 2021