I’m fascinated by politics, democracy and community engagement
In the area of local government, I work with councillors, senior management and officers to develop better teams, responsive service and engaged communities.
Whether it’s professional training for Mayors, advising on gender equity or running a Get Elected workshop for candidates – I’m known as the go-to consultant when councils need someone who gets it. I understand what it takes to deliver sustained change and my approach is practical and works.
With her background as a research scientist, Ruth brings her clear thinking skills and evidence-based approach to problem-solving.
Skilled in collaborating with people and communities for change, she brings her emotional intelligence and ‘politically savvy’ to her work with people from a range of backgrounds.
Experienced in managing teams and interacting with people from diverse community groups, Ruth brings her insight and wisdom to help Councillors and Councils deliver professional excellence.
Ruth’s work focuses on assisting organisations in the local government sector and supporting active citizenship.
As the author of the first national guide on how to run a political campaign; Get Elected. Ruth has built on her own and others experience to show people how to campaign for office successfully. Ruth also runs workshops and speaks about why public service as a local representative is ‘work worth doing’ and provides practical training on how to win office. She wrote Get Elected in 2019.
She is an experienced coach and mentor of Mayors and Councillors who seek an edge in their performance and appreciate a confidential sounding board from someone who ‘gets it’.
From 2016-2019 the Victorian local government experienced a high rate of CEO turnover with more than 55% of councils securing a new CEO in the past three years. Responding to increasing demand from Councillors for independent advice and support with CEO recruitment, Ruth assisted a number of council teams with the successful placement of their new CEO. Working as an independent adviser alongside the Council-appointed executive recruitment agency, Ruth provided expert advice to Councillors and probity oversight.
Following a CEO appointment, Ruth assists high-performing Council teams to re-design and re-fresh the CEO Performance Plan.
Ruth also consults to councils when they may need support with operational matters on a variety of projects.
Ruth has worked as a consultant and adviser to councils, peak bodies in local government and community leaders since 2012. Examples of projects include:
Mayor-Up! training with Municipal Association (MAV) of Victoria 2018
Deliver councillor training for many councils (2016 – 2019)
Contracted by Victorian Local Government Association to produce several projects supporting women candidates to office including a documentary on Diverse Women Candidates from the 2016 Council elections, candidate training for female candidates in Geelong (2017), update Now You’re a Councillor and administer the social media group – More Women for Local Government
Contracted by the Victorian Government to research and produce the Best Practice Guidelines on Gender Equality for Local Government. Guidelines and companion document released in July 2018
Contracted by the Murray River Group of Councils to conduct social research into the impact of the Murray Darling Basin Plan on Northern Victorian Communities. Ruth produced a report and documentary for the six councils (launched June 2018).
Before establishing her own consulting business, Ruth McGowan Pty Ltd, she enjoyed a successful career as scientist, manager and adviser in the Victorian Government for 20+ years including managing an information service for small landholders. Ruth served her community as a Mayor and was elected twice as a councillor with Baw Baw shire council.
Awards and Recognition
Making a difference
Awarded Order of Australia Medal for service to community health through support organisations, and to the Baw Baw Shire, June 2014.
Awarded National Emergency 2013 for services and leadership as Mayor, during the Black Saturday Bushfire disaster of 2009.
Fellow of Melbourne University Pathways to Politics program for women, 2017
As a thought leader in the Local Government sector, Ruth works with clients to listen, explore options and then collaboratively develop solutions that endure.
In response to demand from Councillors for independent advice, Ruth has assisted a number of councils as an expert guide with the recruitment of their new CEO. Once successfully placed, Ruth also helps advise councillors through the onboarding and induction process including developing a powerful performance management plan.
Engaging training and fun facilitation is Ruth’s speciality. Examples of training topics include: ‘Get your gender lens on’, ‘Understand the good, bad and dodgy of governance’ to ‘Better manage the intricacies of your CEO’ for Councillors.
She is repeatedly invited back by satisfied clients to deliver programs.
How I help
I specialise in CEO management, stakeholder engagement, Councillor skill development and supporting active citizenship. I work with clients to meet their needs, either as a facilitator, mentor or coach, trainer or speaker.
Helping leading Councillors to transform their communities as great places to live, play, work.
I support Councillors to make the difference they desire.
Ruth is a specialised coach to high-performing Mayors Councillors.
With Ruth’s coaching, elected officials are supported through the tough gig of being a local politician. Drawing on her wise experience, she can advise clients to ‘watch out for this, be prepared for that’ in a gentle and encouraging way. Her approach enables clients to build their capacity and confidence to tackle anything.
Ruth is a master trainer with a really engaging style, leaving no room for ‘death by PowerPoint’! With an energetic and respectful style, Ruth engages everyone in the room to explore and design solutions to the problems at hand. Participants leave Ruth’s training energised with new knowledge and practical tools they can immediately apply in their life and workplace to make a positive difference.
Dynamic but not overbearing is Ruth’s approach to facilitating. She works as a musical conductor, coordinating an orchestra rather than as a content generator.
Ruth prepares extensively beforehand so that she is always mindful of the aims of the group she is working with and the issues that need to be surfaced. With a friendly respectful approach, Ruth takes care to draw on the diverse opinions of the whole group, while keeping the discussion focused on solving problems, addressing opportunities and moving forward to the desired goal.