IPWEA NZ’s Digital Badges show their value to the industry for council staff recruitment and induction during lockdown…

IPWEA NZ’s Communications Manager Freda Wells recently caught up with staff from Queenstown Lakes District Council to talk about IPWEA NZ’s Digital Badges.

There is a common misperception that the whole world wants to move to Queenstown, with its fast-paced, adrenalin-junkie, adventure-tourism image, but in reality it can be very expensive to set up life in Queenstown, says Polly Lambert, Acting Strategy & Asset Management Planning Manager in the Property & Infrastructure Team at Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC).

Nevertheless, with over 350 staff, QLDC is a large council – and it needs to be with the massive growth of subdivisions and related infrastructure following the GFC in 2008.

Queenstown attracts a huge number of international travellers every year on their OE – and five years ago Becs Johnson was one of these, arriving in Queenstown to do a ski season – and she has been working for QLDC ever since!  Her first council role was a swimming instructor at the Queenstown Events Centre, since moving through six different roles within QLDC (Sport & Rec, Finance) to her current role as Asset & Investment Officer in the Property & Infrastructure Department.

Becs joined the Strategy & Asset Planning team from a completely different department within the Council.  Her start date was one week into Level 4 lockdown.

Bec’s Manager in her new team, Polly Lambert, emphasises the value of the badges in training up a new staff member in a zero-contact environment; “Virtually inducting Becs into a new department and team led to some challenges.  Becs is new to asset management and we saw the badges as a perfect opportunity to highlight to her what individual areas of our team do for asset management and also her own on-going role in this space.  The flexibility of the badges, and that they can be completed 100% online, has all been essential given the COVID-19 operating space we are in.”

“As for all Councils it’s an extremely busy year, ongoing master planning, development of the LTP Investment portfolio, 30-year Infrastructure strategy, Activity Management Plans – to name but a few.  Becs has embraced this virtual world and we all look forward to meeting her in person one day soon.”

Becs has found the badges hugely helpful in her new role, enabling her to gain a solid foundational understanding in general Asset Management theory, basics and practices – including the acronyms and principles being discussed in meetings that she otherwise would have had no idea about.

Regarding the 100% online nature of the badges; Becs says, “The IPWEA online format has been great. To be able to just log in whenever you have some spare time has been easy and rewarding, especially during our current economic situation. The virtual learning via videos and the quick quiz at the end really helps to ensure you have the information locked in.”

Becs is extremely grateful to QLDC for being such a supportive employer, enabling her to develop a fulfilling career in asset management.

She says, “The badges have given me a much broader understanding of AM and the huge variety of professions that come with it. Which of these directions I want to take right now I have no idea. Hopefully, the more experience I gain the clearer this decision will be.

Polly reiterates that, had these badges been available when she first started at QLDC six years ago, she would have been thrilled  – given the understanding that the badges provide.  Judging by Queenstown’s track record, IPWEA NZ’s digital badges will hopefully provide value for current and future employees in the region for a long time to come.