What is your career background?
I am a Civil Engineer by profession and have worked in local government since the early 2000s. I started my career in Kildare County Council as an engineer and have worked in numerous sections of the council since then. In 2018 the opportunity to become Regional Coordinator with the new Eastern and Midlands Climate Action Regional Office (CARO) arose and I took it.
What does your role involve?
The CAROs are a shared service of local government which were established to coordinate the work of local authorities in climate action. I lead a team of 5 and work with 17 councils across this region. Our initial work centred around assisting our constituent local authorities to develop and adopt Climate Change Adaptation Strategies so that the sector could strategically plan for dealing with the effects of climate change at a local level.
We are also working in support of numerous climate action initiatives across all functions of local government. That can span from the economic opportunities arising from climate action, to examining what a decarbonised local authority fleet might entail, to leading on a climate action training programme for all 28,000 local authority staff and our 949 elected members. We also work very closely with the Local Government Management Agency, County and City Management Association and with the other three CAROs to support national initiatives and projects.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
Local government is about elected officials, local authority staff and the public all working together to make a difference and it is great to be part of that process. Whatever grade you are working at, you can have an influence on how we deliver services and contribute to the development of the county and region across a wide range of areas such as economic development, community infrastructure, transport, housing, water services and of course climate action and the wider environment.
Why should someone consider a career with their local authority?
Having the opportunity to affect change at community level is a real plus. The work you do has a positive impact and you can see the results of that work at ground level. There really are a broad range of careers available in local government and you can gain experience in lots of different areas. As well as working in your own county there are also opportunities to work with other county councils, like we do, and this opens up opportunities to meet lots of different people and work across different counties.