Helen Macdonald takes the reigns

Helen Macdonald began her tenure as Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council chief exectuive officer last Monday.
Helen Macdonald began her tenure as Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council chief exectuive officer last Monday.

Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council’s appointment of its new chief executive officer is a groundbreaking one.

Helen Macdonald is the first female to sit in the CEO’s chair in the council’s 21-year history.

While that title is a big deal for some, Dr Macdonald says that she is just looking to get on with the job.

“I do not know if it really makes a lot of difference,” she said. “I suppose as Mayor Allan Aughey indicated the other night it does provide a role model for young women.

“That does provide a positive thing in the sense that they can see somebody else has been in a senior position, so from that point of view I think it is a positive.

“But from day to day it makes no difference, you get on with the job. I have spent most of my life being the only woman working with men in was has traditionally been ‘men’s worlds’.”

The Clare Valley is now home for Dr Macdonald after six years at Naracoorte-Lucindale Council.

Family was a big factor in Dr Macdonald’s decision to relocate from Naracoorte.

Dr Macdonald and her husband had been looking at councils with a close proximity to Adelaide in order to be closer to their family.

The two council areas are not too dissimilar, Dr Macdonald believes.

“There are lots of similarities between the two in terms of similar size, population, similar area and similar amount of roads,” she said.

“But I think there is probably enough differences to keep me on my toes for a good period of time.” 

It has, quite literally, been a baptism of fire for Dr Macdonald who arrived on Friday in the midst of the Emu Flat bushfire.

But she has received a warm welcome from council staff and locals during her first week on the job.

Dr Macdonald’s plans for the next 12 months include getting to know the council area, understanding council and its issues.

Dr Macdonald has taken over from departing acting CEO John Coombe.

On his last day with council, Mr Coombe said that he was confident that Dr Macdonald would be able to continue the good work being done in the region.