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Oct. 21, 2021 | Thursday
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'Listen to the people,' Dowd advises successor
Holly Dowd. (Supplied)

Retiring Town of NOTL chief administrator Holly Dowd has some advice for the person who succeeds her.

Often new senior bosses come in ready to shake things up and do things differently. Gaining some perspective can be a good place to start.

“Listen to the people. Listen to your staff that have been there and let them tell you what we’ve tried before and maybe you’ll still want to do it. And that’s fine, but listen to maybe why we aren’t doing it. Maybe it didn’t work last time and maybe it will work this time,” Dowd said in an interview.

She emphasized that the town staff is dedicated and keen to do the best job possible, not mired in a “that’s the way it’s always been done” mindset.

“But sometimes people don’t even ask, ‘OK, maybe you’ve tried this before. What didn’t work, maybe we can look at it from a different perspective.’”

The town runs on a very strict budget, but the staff “are all open to change,” just take the time to listen to the people, she said. “Our staff is really dedicated and hard-working.” 

Dowd, 56, was born and raised in NOTL, and was still a teenager when she started her career at the municipality. She spent years taking night school courses to obtain her municipal academic credentials and rose through the ranks, holding several senior jobs. She was appointed CAO by the previous council.

Dowd was eligible to retire at the end of 2018 but agreed to stay on for one more year.

Now that she has called it quits she’ll have more time with her husband Rob, who retired two years ago from General Motors, and son Kevan. She’ll also be golfing, curling, biking and travelling. And one of her first destinations will be Hawaii, a “dream” trip.

She’ll miss her colleagues but not the 24/7 stress of managing the municipality. Exercising and staying healthy will be priorities. “I have fibromyalgia and if I don’t keep moving then that doesn’t help,” she said. And stress can exacerbate her condition.

Dowd admits she had mixed emotions about leaving.  “I’m a workaholic and I wondered, ‘What am I going to do?’ “And part of her felt she’d be letting her colleagues down by departing with some things unfinished. “But we’ve got a great dedicated staff” and they’re all doing just fine, she said.

When she finally made the decision, “It was like a big weight off my shoulders.” 

So now she’s still getting up at 5:30 a.m. but instead of having to rush to work, she has a new routine.  “I walk the dog, can sit down and have a cup of tea, and then go sit in the hot tub if I want.”