City Manager Search
For Hilliard’s first city manager, City Council will be seeking a skilled local government professional who is a strong and proactive leader, an excellent communicator, and committed to exceptional customer service and sound financial management.
Those are among the qualities identified while developing a search profile for the city manager, who is expected to begin work on Jan. 1, 2020. The profile was developed by Council and the Novak Consulting Group, which the City hired earlier this year to help with the search.
The completed search profile, which was posted online this week, was reviewed and approved by all members of Council.
Council members promised from the beginning of the process that the community would play a key role in helping determine the kind of person who should fill the role of Hilliard’s first city manager. The preferred qualifications in the profile are based on data from online surveys and focus groups that included both the general public and City staff members.
“The ideal candidate will make him or herself accessible throughout the community, engage and inspire staff throughout the organization, and establish productive working relationships with all members of City Council,” the search profile says. “The ideal candidate will be open and honest, skillfully balancing day-to-day service issues while staying focused on long-term strategic objectives.”
The City will transition from a mayor-council form of government to a council-city manager form of government at the beginning of 2020. That’s when a charter amendment approved by voters in November 2018 takes effect. (Read more about the charter change.)
In January, City Council created a subcommittee of its members and City administrators to develop a hiring process that included contracting with Novak, an executive search firm that specializes in helping local government agencies fill key positions.
“The City Manager will be able to help Council come to consensus on difficult issues, guide Council and staff on changes needed in practice and policy for the new form of government, and develop sound systems to support the City’s government and service delivery,” the search profile says. “The ideal candidate will have experience working in a fast-growing community, supporting sound economic development that helps the residents and businesses thrive while addressing key infrastructure needs as well.”
Other desired qualities include:
- Helps Council establish both short and long-term goals, promotes economic resiliency, and increases transparency throughout the organization.
- Keeps Council informed of matters of importance, engages the community, and is able to explain complex issues effectively.
- Is an approachable, collaborative leader who builds partnerships in the community and region, including Norwich Township (which provides fire services in the City) and Hilliard City Schools.
- Helps the organization evaluate its practices and policies to ensure they align with best practices, support council-manager government, and help employees grow and develop so they can best serve the residents and businesses in Hilliard.
- Is skilled at orienting elected officials and department directors to council-manager government and partners with them to help Hilliard continue to thrive and become a leading city in the region.
- Possesses high ethical standards and provides Council with candid advice on difficult issues.
- Has strong budgeting, human resources, economic development, community and intergovernmental relations, and technology skills.
- Is able to bring best practices in local government service delivery and governance to Hilliard.
Council is seeking someone with at least seven years of local government experience with demonstrated leadership as a manager, assistant manager, or department director and experience working in the council-manager form of government.
Preferred qualifications include possessing a master’s degree, is an ICMA-CM, and has demonstrated success in economic development, building strong intergovernmental partnerships, technology improvements, and strategic planning and implementation.
Experience serving as a community’s first manager or administrator is also preferred but not required.
Resident Feedback Sought for City Manager Qualities
Hilliard City Council members are asking residents to take a brief online survey that will help guide them as they take the initial steps of seeking a City Manager.
“We are very interested in hearing what qualities our residents and those who work in this community believe our first city manager should possess,” said Council President Kelly McGivern. “To help us identify a great city manager, we are asking our community members to provide their thoughts through a brief and open-ended survey.”
This survey was developed by The Novak Consulting Group, which has been hired to assist City Council in this search. The survey asks what qualities residents wish to see in a city manager, what they believe that individual’s priorities should being during the first year on the job, and what advice they would give this individual.
Participants’ identities will remain anonymous. The survey results will be used during the recruitment process and will be shared with the Mayor and City Council.
To take this 5-minute survey, just click this link before March 29.
“City Council is committed to continuing to communicate with our community as this process continues,” McGivern said. “Getting this kind of feedback is an important part of this process.”
The new City Manager will officially take office Jan. 1, 2020, when voter-approved amendments to the charter become effective and the City switches from a Council/Mayor form of government to a Council/City Manager form of government.
“Changing our form of municipal government is a significant step for our community, and City Council members know how important it is to hire the right person for this position,” McGivern said. “We are committed to finding a leader who will hit the ground running, help us through this transition, and build on Hilliard’s previous success.”
Council Appoints The Novak Consulting Group to Spearhead City Manager Search
Hilliard City Council has selected The Novak Consulting Group to facilitate the search for its first City Manager, with a goal of having a candidate in place by the end of the year.
“Novak Consulting Group is a highly regarded executive search firm that has helped cities in Central Ohio and across the country identify and hire city managers and other leaders for more than a decade,” said Kelly McGivern, Council President and a member of the Council subcommittee working on the search process.
Novak Consulting Group was founded in 2009, when Julia D. Novak acquired Public Management Partners, a company with nearly a decade of professional management consulting experience.
In addition to assisting with executive searches for government agencies across the country, Novak Consulting Group’s services range from facilitation and strategic planning to training, organizational development, executive coaching, and community engagement.
McGivern said City Council members know that hiring a strong and experienced leader to serve as Hilliard’s first City Manager is a crucial process.
“Having the assistance of a firm such as Novak will ensure the person selected for this position is able to help our community make the transition to a Council/City Manager form of government as smooth as possible,” McGivern said.
McGivern said hiring the best candidate is more important than meeting a strict deadline, so there must be room for some flexibility in the timeline and process. She emphasized that Council Members want to ensure there is sufficient opportunity built into the process for Council, staff, and community input, including planned surveys and focus groups that will help determine the characteristics desired in a City Manager and what that person’s priorities should be.
The search will begin in March with input to develop a profile of the ideal candidate. Novak Consulting will meet with City Council, City staff members, and key stakeholders to identify desired traits and experiences for the position. This process will include interviews, focus groups, and a community survey. Using this information, a job description and a recruitment profile will be developed.
Once those are completed, Novak will advertise the position and begin the process of developing and cultivating a list of candidates. The firm will work with City Council to narrow the applicant group, as well as perform preliminary candidate screening and reference and background checks on finalists.
Council anticipates a final selection of City Manager will be in the fall so the new manager will be in place before the end of the year.
The new City Manager will officially take office Jan. 1, 2020, when voter-approved amendments to the charter become effective. Council Members have indicated that the preferred candidate might be brought on board in a transitional position in 2019 to learn the ropes and work with Mayor Don Schonhardt during the fall.
“Changing our form of municipal government is a significant step for our community, and City Council members know how important it is to hire the right person for this position,” McGivern said. “We remain committed to finding a leader who will hit the ground running, help us through this transition, and build on Hilliard’s previous success.”
McGivern said City Council will continue to communicate with the community as this search continues.
Council Appoints Committee To Begin City Manager Search
City Council took its next official step toward transitioning to its new form of government Monday night when it created a committee to begin the search process for Hilliard’s first city manager.
Council President Albert Iosue appointed fellow Council Members Andy Teater, Pete Marsh, and Vice President Kelly McGivern to the Transition Committee, with Teater to serve as chair. City administrators Julia Baxter, the City’s Director of Human Resources, and David Ball, the Director of Communications, were appointed to assist the committee with the process.
The Transition Committee will hire a professional consulting firm to develop appropriate recruiting materials, accept applications, and work with Council throughout the process. There is no timeline each step of the process, but Iosue said there will be opportunities for community members and City staff to participate and provide feedback about the kinds of skills and qualities they believe Hilliard’s first city manager should possess.
All seven members of City Council will be actively involved in the interviews and hiring.
Hilliard’s first city manager is expected to begin work on January 1, 2020. That’s the date a voter-approved amendment to the City Charter takes effect, transitioning Hilliard from a strong mayor form of government to a council/city manager system. While a mayor is elected by voters, a city manager is a professional administrator hired by City Council to oversee the day-to-day operations of the City.
Voters approved the change to the City Charter in November 2018. Read more information about the charter amendment and how a city manager form of government operates.