Council's high achievers - Chris Murdoch, CEO, Livingstone Shire Council, Queensland
With an eclectic career background, Livingstone Shire Chief Executive Officer Chris Murdoch brings a wealth of corporate experience to the top job at the Queensland council.
Situated 30 minutes from Rockhampton along the Capricorn Coast, the Shire offers both urban and rural lifestyles with strong community values and diverse natural landscapes. It is home to about 36,000 residents and has a substantial visitor economy.
“As the first female CEO in the history of Council, the appointment is both a great honour and a privilege,” Ms Murdoch told Local Government Focus.
Livingstone Shire Council Mayor Bill Ludwig nominated Ms Murdoch as a ‘High Achiever’.
Ms Murdoch said a strong relationship between a Council CEO and Mayor is vital, and it is a matter of “finding the right rhythm” between the two leaders.
“Good working relationships with the Mayor and other Councillors are critical and I put a great deal of effort into ensuring those relationships are positive and productive.
“In my view a Council can’t be effective without the elected members who represent the community and the Councillors can’t deliver on their promises to the community without an organisation who is working collaboratively with them.
“The CEO plays a vital role in translating the strategic direction and intent of the Mayor and Councillors into operational outcomes. It is important to be able to have frank and fearless discussions with the elected members with the focus always on the best outcome for the community.”
A relatively recent arrival to Livingstone Shire, Ms Murdoch has held the CEO position for about four months; she was previously Council’s Director Corporate Services, which was her first local government role.
Her career background is vast: “I’ve held executive leadership roles in public health, higher education, financial management, heavy engineering, manufacturing, and the retail sectors for approximately 20 years and commenced my early career with an international accounting firm.
“After working as a Chief Finance Officer for some time, I decided to move more into the human resource management space as I was interested in understanding why people think and behave the way they do, what motivates them and how to engage effectively to get the best out of them.
“Being a Chartered Accountant with a degree in commerce and post graduate qualifications in psychology, combined with a rather eclectic background across a broad range of sectors and roles, has given me some unique perspectives and led me on a somewhat unexpected but thoroughly rewarding career journey.”
A major success has been leading the implementation of Council’s cultural development program.
“Many staff had been through other cultural programmes and the initial feedback was ‘we’ve heard it all before and nothing ever comes of these programmes’. I was determined that this would be more than a one hit wonder and that it would fundamentally change not only the experience of our staff as we went about our work but also that of our customers.
“Our culture wasn’t broken by any means but on the back of a de-amalgamation two years ago and a cyclone twelve months later, the goodwill of our staff had certainly been put to the test. I couldn’t be more proud of how we have come through that period and the organisation we are today.”
A current project underway for the Council is the Yeppoon Foreshore and Town Centre Revitalisation, which is a joint $53 million dollar project including a multi-storey car park, beachside lagoon pool, foreshore boardwalks and CBD connectivity. Another priority is the $30 million strategic transport link to service the Capricorn Coast’s northern growth corridor.
Ms Murdoch said she enjoys helping others reach their potential and relishes the ability to make a tangible difference to the community.
“I have a strong service ethic as well as a social justice perspective and local government is uniquely placed to directly serve and support the community.
“I enjoy the fact that every day I have some form of contact with residents and businesses and am able to assist them. I like to think I am giving back to the community that has embraced me and being able to deliver on strategic priorities that will make a difference to our community is very important to me.”