On the Couch with Tony Circelli

Joining us virtually On the Couch Chief Executive, Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Tony Circelli, shared how this unique crisis situation called on his department to embrace different ways of providing service.

“The key thing is communication”

As highlighted by many public sector leaders in these sessions, Mr Circelli emphasised how vital communication is, both internally and externally, particularly during the early response to the pandemic. In these challenging circumstances, stakeholders and staff needed to know if services were continuing and what this would look like.

The health and wellbeing of both the EPA’s teams and customers are a big part of the culture at the EPA, Mr Circelli shared. From the initial stages of the pandemic, this mindset helped them recognise that everyone was going to respond differently to the changes brought about by working from home, distancing restrictions and impacts on businesses’ operations. From his department, there was a large effort to provide support to staff who needed it, especially younger employees or those entering the sector, who had not yet had the chance to form connections.

“The big cultural change to society, is that everyone has had to learn the technology”

As we now emerge into the recovery period, a key focus for Mr Circelli will be examining how we can embed the ‘new business as usual’ into what services will look like post-COVID, and how the delivery of those services may be changed for the better.

When asked what Mr Circelli and his department might do differently post COVID-19, he noted his enthusiasm for taking up new and existing technologies to save time and increase their ability to communicate. The new possibilities of working from home have changed the way recruitment and HR may work, where people in rural areas can access increased opportunities.

“Leadership is an area where you are focusing on change. It’s being prepared to change yourself. It’s being prepared to lead people through those changes”

Mr Circelli also shared his thoughts on important traits for leaders during this time of change. With all the new opportunities to shift the way things have been traditionally done, we can learn from Mr Circelli that now is the time to be exploring those new opportunities and being ready to take the leap.

During this Interview, Mr Circelli was asked the following questions…

  1. Looking back at everything that has happened over the last 4 months, what has COVID-19 meant for your organisation?
  2. What do you think the biggest challenges were?
  3. Looking after each other will be an important part of how teams, workforces and communities get through the next few months, what have you done in the EPA to look after your staff?
  4. What have you learnt about how you will do things differently?
  5. What have your interactions been like the businesses you work with during COVID-19?
  6. Is there a leadership tool, framework, or mantra that you use in times like this?
  7. What is the approach of the EPA, toward those who breach regulations during COVID-19?
  8. What are the big issues for environmental regulators over the next year or so?

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