Episode 26: With Deputy Commissioner Megan Stiffler on leadership, connection to communities, and emergency response

Episode 25: With Deputy Commissioner Megan Stiffler on leadership, connection to communities, and emergency response

As the title suggests, this podcast is all about unearthing a new perspective on risk.

My guests are experts in their fields where they impact risk either directly or indirectly. My interviews aim to lift the lid on risk and rip it apart to give you a whole new perspective on it.

My name’s Lisa Sisson and I am founder of risk consultancy, Unearth. I’m also becoming known somewhat as a “Risk Rebel”.

At Unearth we believe that risk starts and ends with people. Equally, we believe that opportunity starts and ends with people. So if you’re not looking at risk with, through and by your people, then you are not only leaving your organisation exposed to risk, you are also not opening up the opportunities that a people-centred risk strategy will deliver.

Those of you who know my story, know that my personal and business purpose are the same, ‘to create a safer world: one community and one workplace at a time’. It drives everything we do at Unearth.

At the end of the day, we all belong to a community. That is where we go home, to the people, our families, and things that mean the most to us. And right now, there are many communities in Australia that have been doing it tough, especially with the recent heartbreaking flood disasters.

It is in times like this we need strong and courageous leadership, which is why I am humbled to have Deputy Commission Megan Stiffler join me on this episode of my podcast.

For those of you who are not familiar with Megan (which she preferred me to call her), she joined Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) around six months ago leading the Strategic Capability Division, which is responsible for developing and managing operational capabilities across the State.

The Division assists in setting FRNSW’s strategic direction and leads the development and delivery of emergency management specialised services, capability development, operational communications, and training.

Megan’s story is unique, and she shares how her journey started off within the corporate sector, with experience in marketing, insurance, and sales, then around 18 years ago a disaster event changed her life. Megan became motivated to start her career as a firefighter, then to a senior officer, to today as Deputy Commissioner.

Megan’s extensive operational background includes leading Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams on deployment and senior command experience across a multitude of large-scale operational events.

The diversity of Megan’s experience means her work in emergency services is complemented by senior executive experience in strategic change management and community engagement. In her executive resume, she holds an MBA and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

It is worth noting that Megan’s leadership was recognised as a Queensland Finalist in the 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

In this episode I speak with Megan about her own story, her experiences within emergency services and the heartfelt stories of working with communities. This is an episode you really don’t want to miss. We talk on:

  • How risk and risk management touches every aspect business, communities, and life.
  • How people, emergency services personnel and volunteers, are willing to put themselves in harm’s way. Though Megan shares how they are calculated risks.
  • Fire + Rescue learning as they move beyond just response and into recovery, and that their response actions can have significant influence on the recovery piece.
  • Megan’s experiences and stories about how some of the response decisions, even with the best of intentions to reduce the risk to communities, saw some decisions mean a missed opportunity to reduce one trauma becoming multiple traumas. Hear how Megan used one valuable lesson to help her identify and become more aware of an opportunity in another event, with a remarkable outcome.
  • Some of the stories and examples shared were from the fires in Victoria, the recent floods NSW, including Lismore and Cabbage Tree Island, plus others.
  • The exhilarating of seeing organic communities come together in a response to a disaster event.
  • Megan’s thoughts on the future of Fire and Rescue for NSW, looking at 5, 10, 15 years’ time. What does the firefighter look like in the future? Looking at technologies, fuels, and many other areas, knowing the planning and implementing takes time.
  • A passionate topic of my own, collaboration, and Megan shares her views on the potential for government departments to work closer and maximise investment and resources, plus jointly tackle large challenges.

There is so much value and wonderful stories within this episode. So invest the time to listen in.

There were a couple of areas that stood out for me.

  • Megan’s ability to demonstrate courageous leadership and be vulnerable. Her commitment to lead by example and work to improve engagement, connection, and response for both responders and with communities.
  • In all my conversations to date with Megan, it reaffirms Unearth’s work and approach to putting recovery first’ and ‘planning under blue skies being so incredibly vital.

So, reach out if you would like to see how we could potentially help, or if your community passes the PUBS test?

You can listen to this podcast episode, but if you would like to see the video of our discussion, you can find it on YouTube, which I highly recommend and take the opportunity to get to know Megan better. I hope you join us.

Connect with Deputy Commission Megan Stiffler

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