Sheffield Search Welcomes Associate Director David Hammond

Sheffield Search are delighted to welcome Associate Director David Hammond into the team. David joins them from a career spanning some 25 years in local government and private consulting. They spoke to him about the state of local government and what he is looking forward to about working at Sheffield:

Tell us about your background?

My family were dairy farmers from Akaroa who have been in that area of Canterbury for 168 years – so we’re almost ‘locals’. After a local government career through policy and community development, leading and writing numerous Long Term Plans I completed a cumulative 10 years of Chief Executive experience over three councils. In the last few years I began consulting, having national expertise in areas as diverse as developing freedom camping strategic and bylaw approaches, to assisting councils in New Zealand and Australia with community governance structures and management of successful tourism. Highlights of that time included the national St John Community Health Services Strategic Plan 2018-28 and the New Zealand Best Practice Guide for Freedom Camping released this year by LGNZ. My wife, Jacqui, and I live in Thames and enjoy that mix of smaller community and closeness to cities. With our three children Callum, Laith and Monika we southerners have succumbed to the northern drift toward Auckland.

What are you looking forward to about working with Sheffield?

I have always been a strong advocate for the development of great New Zealand leaders who can make a hugely positive impact on our communities. Coming into Sheffield I am thrilled to contribute in this way and have been very impressed by the quality of the Sheffield staff team who share that passion.

Where do you see the future of recruitment heading?

My radar, and my Chief Executive experience tells me that the future belongs to adaptable, inclusive, innovative and empathetic leaders who can cope with increasing complexity. If you take local government – it will face climate change impacts on coastal and river communities around our country in the next two decades. The impact of that change alone will be huge on the complexity of leadership and the pressures put on them.

Do you think local government is out of touch with their community?

In January 2018 I wrote an article in LG Magazine on the future of council community engagement which struck a chord nationally. As Chief Executive of Nelson City in 2017 I was told, “The council thinks it’s consulting with us. It’s not consultation; it’s ‘insultation’.” In fact they did little wrong but the goalposts of community expectation had changed significantly in just five years. Local government needs to move out of its paradigm of ‘central, head-office thinking’ dominated by “consultation” to moving their entire organisations to “partner” models inviting co-design of its services, decision-making, policies and programmes. This is a topic I present on at conferences in New Zealand and Australia.

What are the big issues facing local government in 2018?

Local government received a shock in 2014 when a Colemar Brunton survey it commissioned showed that its reputation in NZ scored 29/100. The national body – LGNZ – launched a ‘performance improvement’ programme designed to lift sector performance. That has done really well. LGNZ re-tested that survey in 2016 and … the score dropped to 28/100 after all that effort. I link this to the disconnection between councils and their local communities. We are all ‘consumers’ who have been used to being in-charge of the design of products since the 1920s. We expect things done the way we want them, and manufacturers to make what we want in the style, colour and size we want. But in local government the scary thing is that you can walk into a council today and in many ways it is little different to that of 100 years ago – inertia and disconnection.

What are the biggest challenges facing employers these days?

As a Chief Executive I faced issues of recruitment and retention of top talent, development of a culture that is agile and engages staff, taking opportunities afforded by IT transformation without being on the ‘bleeding edge’, connecting with customers in a world full of noise, and being so involved in day-to-day operations that there is no time for strategy. I continually challenged our human resources people with a question: “What will great labour relations look like in 20 years’ time which harness employers and employees in an integrated way? What is the aspiration that we, as employers and employees, should be aiming for?” Our challenge is to look forward and place people who represent a culture of the future – adaptable, inclusive, innovative and empathetic – and not reinforce an outdated model of business leadership that is becoming as extinct as the Moa in a changing and increasingly complex world.