High Achievers - Mathew Allen Manager Engineering and Field Services City of Marion

Article image - High Achievers - Mathew Allen  Manager Engineering and Field Services  City of Marion

The City of Marion was one of the first South Australian councils to improve sustainability through a program of replacing old streetlights with energy efficient LED globes.

By early next year, the City will have upgraded 8525 streetlights within 12 months.

The success of the program is due to the innovation of the City’s Manager Engineering and Field Services, Mathew Allen.

Improving the City
Mr Allen is, according to Deputy Mayor, Councillor Janet Byram, a ‘proactive manager who is always looking to establish new systems, infrastructure and procedures to improve work in Marion’.

As well as the LED light implementation initiative, Cr Bryam nominated Mr Allen as LG Focus Council High Achiever for the guidance he has given to other councils and especially for his liaison and negotiation with South Australian Power Networks (SAPN).

He has also been instrumental in implementing the City’s transformational open space project.

Mr Allen said the use of technology had improved service levels and being more proactive had reduced the number of requests for work from the community.

“Recently we equipped all our field staff with electronic tablets and have managed to transform our open space tree, reserve and landscaping operations.”

Absorbing a program of tree pruning has improved community safety without additional cost – it would have cost $250,000 per annum to do it otherwise.

Everyone benefits
“People, customers, risk and cost – have all benefited.

“By equipping our field staff with ‘tablets’ they can checklist tasks when maintaining parks, reserves and trees in ‘real time’, and request additional work to be done.”

The system links to the organisation’s process that generates work requests from the community and makes the system more efficient.

Located just 12 km southwest of Adelaide, the City of Marion, population around 90,000, boasts an amazing diversity of features.

It has three conservation parks plus Oaklands wetland nestled amongst residential areas coupled with the 7.2 km Coastal Walking Trail along a unique coastline.

The ground breaking Tonsley Innovation District, which is the former Mitsubishi motor plant reinvented, brings together a five hectare educational, commercial and residential development.

There are quality parks and playgrounds, sports and community facilities and the City is home to the Morphettville Racecourse.

Best memories are the people
Mr Allen started his career as a surveyor in Adelaide.

“I began working in Local Government in 1996 at a rural council where I enjoyed contributing to the community and quickly learnt how to make the most of limited resources.

“I moved to the City of Marion in 2006 as a Technical Officer and transitioned to Unit Manager Civil in 2007 before becoming Manager Engineering and Field Services in 2010.

“Local government has provided me with wonderful and unique experiences, coupled with opportunities to develop professionally.”

Mr Allen said the memorable moments of his working life have been about the people he has worked with and people he has met.

“There are wonderful and generous people that work throughout Local Government that keep me motivated to work hard at the things that matter.

“There was a short period in my career where I did not have people reporting to me.

“I missed the responsibility of being a leader and I truly enjoy leadership and the rewards and challenges that it presents.”

While he finds the restrictions of delivering projects on time and within budget present the biggest challenges in his role, maintaining a high quality of work within these constraints and ensuring the people directly affected are kept well informed are the most important considerations.

“We have implemented an auditing and reporting system [at City of Marion] which enables us see the quality of work we deliver for the community.

“This system has seen us receive considerable positive feedback from our community.”

Regional opportunities
Mr Allen promotes the many benefits of combining with other councils across the western suburbs. Working regionally councils can identify resource sharing opportunities and collaborate to improve business systems.

“We are in the process of improving our asset systems and project management tools to ensure we make effective and informed decisions on the projects and services provided to our community,” he adds.

“I’m fortunate and grateful to be employed by the City of Marion and to be in a manager’s role (I still pinch myself).

“My plan [for the future] is to provide strong leadership, mentor others, and at some stage in the future I would like an opportunity to undertake a General Manager’s role.”