Interview: Steve Mitchinson, Executive Director - Drivers and Vehicles, Department of Transport

Tell us about the journey to your current role and what it this role entails?

Started out in credit management then progressed through a couple of customer management roles into a General Management role within telecommunications before embarking on an 8-year journey as consultant. This was a massive learning opportunity that proved that regardless of industry or sector the same principles for change, improvement and growth apply I was then invited to re-join the public sector in 2015 with the Dept Transport as Director Service Delivery. In 2016 I was appointed acting General Manager of Driver and Vehicle Services .IN July 2019 I was appointed to role of inaugural |Chief Customer Officer to lead the establishment of the Service WA in that role.

Can you describe a project you are working on or recently completed? What challenges did you face along the way and how were they overcome?

Driver and vehicle services is a diverse business and the team have delivered a number of quite successful outcomes in recent times including major reforms to the graduated driver training program, important reforms to vehicle safety and a complete transformation of how we deliver our services to our customers which saw us recognised with the IPAA award for Digital Innovation in Government. More recently I have been involved in preparing for the Service WA initiative Our DoT Direct program has been great success with over 60 transactions now available online and over 550,000 customers using the platform to do business with us. We recently extended the range of transactions to include other agencies which has been extremely well received by customers

What did you learn from this project? What did it achieve?

There were many learnings:
  • We deliberately engaged with customers with every initiative which ensured we had the right insights and support when we introduced new approaches and services
  • We focussed very strongly on developing a culture of empowerment for our staff which not only had a dramatic impact on service levels but also drove a significant uplift in idea generation
  • We introduced a mantra of fact based design to ensure our decisions were factually based and not the result of emotional response to often isolated incidents
  • We totally redesigned our recruitment and onboarding practices with great results
  • We improved communication methods to ensure ensure every single employee understood the business plan and strategy and had an opportunity to provide input
  • We celebrated and shared our success

What excites you most about the future?

The opportunity to leverage the work being done nationally to enhance digital identity frameworks and data security so that we can develop much more focussed service outcomes for customers. A strong and trusted ID framework will support improved connection between different data sets so that we can streamline service delivery and deliver (the right) pro-active services to (the right) customers

If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to further their career in government, what would it be?

Be brave and dont be guided by the failures and risk aversion of the past. Establish a strong sense of purpose so that all stakeholders understand their roles and the vision for the future. You will often be surrounded by detractors so let me share a quote provided to me on the day I was appointed to my first change role: Beware of those Jeremiahs around you as every step of human progress has been challenged by non-believers

Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, online courses, university etc.?

I find my best source of new ideas and proven methods is research articles and podcasts. Some of the sources I subscribe to are McKinsey, HBR, MIT Sloane, Peppers and Rogers, Aberdeen Research, Bruce Temkin, Anne Herrmann , Simon Sinek and Institute of Operational Excellence And I participate in key industry forums nationally and internationally as the great bonus of being in the public sector is there is no competition and so great value in sharing something that cant happen so readily in the private sector

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

The opportunity to share ideas, successes and fails and learn from others as none of us is alone on our journey. With the rapid pace of change events like this make it so much easier to keep abreast of opportunities and often help cut through some of the vendor hype.

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