High Achievers - Stephen Wall, Chief Executive Officer Maribyrnong City Council
Maribyrnong City Council Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Stephen Wall found himself working in local government by luck, when 21 years ago he applied for and was appointed to the role of Creditors and Purchasing Officer at Murray Shire Council in New South Wales (NSW).
“I knew very little about the sector but found an immediate attraction to the work we do. I am fortunate to have stumbled into the local government environment.”
Mayor Cuc Lam feels fortunate that luck led him to her council, and has nominated Mr Wall as LG Focus high achiever saying his advocacy expertise has placed Council at the forefront of change as the major stakeholder in a number of state projects of national significance such as the Westgate tunnel and the $200 million education learning precinct.
“Since 2014 Stephen has demonstrated a unilateral commitment to a customer first approach across all areas of council including the introduction of a contemporary organisational continuous improvement program that meets rigorous criteria focusing on community outcomes.
She said Mr Wall had reformed Council’s approach to community engagement.
“He has led an organisational focus on digital competency that enables internal and external customers to interact more easily with Council including 98 percent of all payments online.
“Stephen has attracted over $30 million to the city for sporting and recreation projects over the past year alone.”
A really cool place
Covering 32 square km and with a population of about 86,000 people, it is one of the most densely populated councils in the country and the population is forecast to almost double to 157,000 by 2041.
Maribyrnong is situated right next to the Port of Melbourne, about six km from the Melbourne central business district.
The City has an amazing multicultural community, with almost half of the population born overseas.
It also has a proud industrial history, and is a hub for freight and logistics, but is experiencing some growing pains as the population changes.
Mr Wall said, “Our festivals, restaurants, temples and cultural experiences make Maribyrnong a really cool place to visit.
“Our city has pockets of strong cultural influence from our Little Saigon precinct in central Footscray, Little Africa also in Footscray and our Indian precinct in West Footscray.
“Probably our best kept secret is the magnificent Maribyrnong River which is a wonderful asset for our community, with an impressive cycling and walking path which follows the river through our city.
“Maribyrnong is a great place.”
It’s never dull
Mr Wall has had wide variety of positions and has seen many changes in the sector.
“I feel grateful to have had such a broad range of experiences, working in councils in three different states, and I continue to really enjoy working in local government.
“I have really enjoyed the last four years [at Maribyrnong Council] where we have had a primary focus on customer service, city amenity and asset renewal.
“There is never a dull moment in local government, and I have so many memorable moments and experiences.
“I have particularly enjoyed leading a team that has been delivering high quality infrastructure into a rapidly changing community in the inner west of Melbourne. “Presiding over the opening ceremony for the first ever library delivered into the suburb of Braybrook was quite special, and a strong example of how we impact the lives of the communities we serve in local government.”
Liveability and opportunity
At Maribyrnong the key challenges include dealing with a rapidly growing population and growing community expectations, whilst managing Council’s finances in a rate capping environment.
“In the inner west of Melbourne, traffic and congestion, the conflict between trucks on residential streets and liveability outcomes and striving to improve the quality of the infrastructure provided to our community certainly keep life interesting.”
Along with a range of Council projects, including construction of early years centres, sporting pavilions, and open space improvements, there are a number of State and Federal Government projects happening in the city.
“The State Government’s $6.5 billion West Gate Tunnel project is in our patch, along with the Footscray Learning Precinct initiative, Whitten Oval redevelopment, and a new hospital for Footscray.
“The Federal Government’s announcement to sell the Defence Site Maribyrnong, 127ha of land eight km from the centre of Melbourne, is an amazing opportunity for our city, and one where Council is keenly involved.
“It is certainly a busy time for Maribyrnong City Council.”
For now, Mr Wall is enjoying his current role at Maribyrnong and hopes to continue to serve the community there for years to come, ‘but you never know what’s around the corner’,