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February 2022 Member Spotlight

15/02/2022

AELERT MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Kimberly Maiolo

With Kimberly Maiolo, Principal Advisor Regulatory Practice, Compliance and Regulatory Practice Branch, South Australia EPA.

For our February Member Spotlight, we were pleased to be joined by Kimberly Maiolo who shared some interesting insights into her career in environmental regulation, discussed her work with AELERT, and provided some helpful advice for others in the field.

1. Can you please tell us about your current role and the work you do every day?

I am the Principal Advisor Regulatory Practice in the Compliance and Regulatory Practice Branch at the SA EPA. In this role I lead a small team of very capable staff that have responsibility for ensuring regulatory practice is advanced across the organisation through the delivery of high-quality services and projects.

We undertake a range of internal and externally focused reform projects with the overall aim to improve the practice and behaviour of the regulated community while ensuring our processes are lean and effective. Some of our current projects include:

  • improving our Authorised Officer capability, including review of AO training
  • adaptive management of environmental licences
  • reviewing our regulatory approach for lower risk sites
  • improving new licence applications
  • reducing legacy issues through closure and surrender processes  

I’ve also been the Co-chair of the AELERT Better Regulation Working Group since late 2018 (with a 12-month maternity leave gap) and continue to connect up regulatory practice enthusiasts and progress its valuable work for the AELERT network.  

2. Can you tell us about the journey you’ve been on to get you to where you are today in your career?

I studied a Bachelor of Science at university, and it wasn’t until my honours degree that I took a specialised interest in the environment. Like many I have always loved the outdoors and nature and so given the choice of countless hours observing cells in a laboratory or countless hours trudging through glorious?! mudflats and sifting sediment cores I chose fieldwork. Waders are a good look for everyone! A decision with hindsight I don’t regret although I have traded in the fieldwork for more office-based work since!

Following honours, I continued with some research for the University of Adelaide and was lucky enough to win the first ‘proper’ job I applied for. I started my career at the SA EPA in the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) team on a short contract as an Environmental Scientist. At that time the team was part of a regulatory reform projects branch, and it was this exposure to regulatory reform and regulatory craft that really sparked my interest.

I continued to work on the NPI for several years and eventually got an opportunity to join the regulatory reform team. One of the first reform projects I managed was to improve the accessibility of information held by the EPA (EPA Public Register). Following that project, I had various advisor or team leader roles working on and leading reform projects with a focus on regulatory improvement and performance.  

I took the opportunity to join the AELERT Better Regulation Cluster to work on some great projects (including the Modern Regulator Improvement Tool) with very inspiring people, eventually taking over the Co-chair role in 2018. I took some maternity leave to have two equally nature-loving children and returned to work part-time in the field of better regulation and regulatory improvement. I’ve recently had the opportunity to work with a new team and I am really looking forward to working together to advance the organisation’s regulatory capability and practice.  

3. What has been the highlight of your career so far? Or the most exciting moment in your career?

As previously mentioned, it was a really exciting opportunity to work alongside some great regulatory minds through my involvement with the AELERT Better Regulation Cluster. I was part of the core group to develop the Modern Regulator Improvement Tool (MRIT) and was a really exciting opportunity to work on a concept that hadn’t been done before. I really enjoyed the creativity and application of regulatory theory underpinning the tool development. Throughout the development phase there were so many opportunities to work with regulatory practice colleagues across the AELERT network and it was pretty amazing to watch the process slowly develop from the concept through to review and refinement and the final product.  

Even now, I love getting feedback from different organisations around Australia (and sometimes beyond) about how they have used the MRIT to improve their regulatory maturity. It feels good to know that the MRIT is still really valued and useful in the world of regulation.

4. Have you had an encounter with an environmental advocate who has made a lasting impression?

I was lucky enough to travel to the Galapagos Islands in 2014 and spent the week with an indigenous guide who had spent his early life closely connected to the islands before moving to the Ecuadorian mainland for 10 years. At the time we met it was his first time back to the islands after such a long time, and he was really in shock and disbelief seeing so many changes to breeding cycles and animal behaviour in the time he was absent.  

I think when you hear stories and can see impacts first hand from someone who has lived their life so connected to a place and its inhabitants, it’s hard to ignore and made a huge lasting impression on me.  One of the reasons I am also keen to see more action on climate change and will continue to advocate for us all to do better.

5. What are the three pieces of advice that you’ve relied on in your career and would pass on to others?

  1. Embrace a growth mindset: we are always learning and improving. It’s so important when working on reform projects and key for collaboration and innovation. Don’t be afraid to try a different approach, you can learn from failures. We should always be looking to continuously improve on what we have.
  2. Reach out and use networks: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In my experience people are usually very happy to help and share their knowledge and expertise. Often we are working on very similar regulatory issues and seeking the same regulatory outcomes.
  3. Find your own balance: Finding the right balance can look different for everyone. Working part-time and balancing work and a young family has forced me to prioritise. Saying yes to everything is actually saying no to something else. I am truly grateful for flexible working arrangements but also conscious of keeping boundaries.    

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