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The right person for the job

In any corporate environment, succession planning is an important factor.

Employees retire or simply move on to new opportunities.

The same is the true in the world of municipalities, as high level staff don’t always stick around for decades and decades.

So when Jag Sharma announced he was leaving his position as city manager earlier this month, it could have caused quite a significant gap in Oshawa’s corporate team.

But luckily, there was a very qualified person for the role already sitting in a chair in council chambers.

Paul Ralph wasn’t necessarily seeking to become city manager, but he indeed fits the role well.

Ralph has been with the city since 1986, starting out as a planner, and working his way up through roles such as principal planner, manager of development and urban design, and director of planning services.

After taking on these positions, Ralph settled into the role of commissioner of development services.

The relationship between city staff and the media can sometimes be a contentious one, but Ralph is always accommodating, willing to answer all questions and provide information.

He is a friendly face at committee and council meetings.

The respect that Ralph has within the City of Oshawa is apparent in the comments made by councillors prior to his appointment at a recent council meeting.

As Ward 3 regional councillor Bob Chapman says, Ralph knows the residents and City of Oshawa staff, and has made many connections in the world of municipal politics over his 33-year career with the city.

Finding an appropriate candidate from within also allowed the city to avoid staff members taking on double duties, and the costs associated with hiring a consultant to aid with finding a new city manager.

Ralph surely has a lot of work ahead of him as there are numerous big time issues facing the city, including the potential amalgamation of the port authority, development at the waterfront, a revamped Fire Master Plan and community risk assessment just to name a few.

But council, staff and residents can all be sure they have the right person for the job.