Sunshine Coast Council’s CEO, Emma Thomas, has announced her decision to explore new personal and career opportunities, stepping away from the role after over three years. 

Ms Thomas started with the organisation in November 2020, with her focus at that time on helping the community and staff manage and overcome the challenges of COVID-19.

From the outset, one of the earliest priorities for Ms Thomas was rebuilding the culture of the Council organisation and creating a safe, nurturing workplace where people felt they could speak up and be heard. 

Ms Thomas said that any achievements since she came on board were the result of the professional and talented teams across Council. 

Driven by community togetherness and cooperation, high on Ms Thomas’s to-do list was ensuring accessibility and social inclusion for everyone living on, and visiting, the Sunshine Coast. 

Ms Thomas said that making the Sunshine Coast more accessible through accessibility mapping and universal design was one of the very interesting projects over the past few years that could lead to positive change. 

Ms Thomas expressed gratitude to the Kabi Kabi and Jinibara people for helping her and Council gain a stronger understanding of country. 

“It has been very important for me during my time as Council’s CEO that our staff feel valued when they come to work, that they feel supported and comfortable when they speak up,” Ms Thomas said.

“Feeling included in the workplace, contributing as part of a team and having a sense of purpose, makes the enormous amount of time spent at work so much more enjoyable and fulfilling. 

“To achieve that, the organisation’s culture values – Care, Respect, Trust, Curious and Connected – were built from the ground up making this a truly inclusive project. 

“Those values are at the centre of all we do and that in turn drives our customer service charter and how we work with our community.”

Ms Thomas said the timing was right for herself and her husband Peter to now explore new opportunities.

“We have made some very good friends here on the Sunshine Coast and I have enjoyed spending time with them.

“Peter and I love the Sunshine Coast and the natural environment is a central point in our lives here. 

“From whale season, turtle hatchlings and volunteering on surf life-saving patrol, to the Glass House Mountains and the Great Sunshine Coast Walk, we have enjoyed every moment. 

“I’m now very excited to see what awaits me as I continue my career journey and I wish the new Council and my colleagues all the very best.

“My wish for the community is to continue to be kind to one another.”

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor, Rosanna Natoli, said that Ms Thomas’s leadership style was one of living and leading by example.

“Kindness and empathy are Emma’s core values and that has shone through as I’ve settled into office,” Mayor Natoli said. 

“My fellow councillors and I have been grateful to have had Emma’s support and advice during what has been a very busy time, trying to learn so much. 

“We have appreciated her calm professionalism and her commitment to openness and transparency.”

Ms Thomas’s resignation is effective Friday, June 14. An interim CEO will be announced prior to that date.

Featured image: Emma Thomas. Image credit: Sunshine Coast Council.

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