From busking to the city’s top job

New Melbourne council CEO Ben Rimmer is returning to the city which gave him a start in life – as a young busker playing violin for extra cash.

The former busking-licence-holder starts work in the city’s top job on February 9.

Mr Rimmer replaces Kathy Alexander who resigned last year after seven years in the role.

Despite not having worked in local government before, councillors perceived Mr Rimmer as the stand-out candidate and are excited to have secured his services.

At just 42, Mr Rimmer is seen as a “young gun” and a rising star in the public policy realm.

Selecting the chief executive officer (CEO) is the only hands-on role that councillors are allowed in the running of the council. 

Councillors can issue policy directives, but it is up to the CEO to appoint staff and run the council’s day-to-day operations.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle described Mr Rimmer as one of the nation’s “finest thinkers in public policy”.

“I am confident that Ben will be a CEO of vision, intellect and hard work. He is an inspirational leader and we are delighted to welcome him home to Melbourne,” Cr Doyle said.

It is understood that Mr Rimmer wanted to return to Melbourne, where he spent his formative years in the northern suburbs of the municipality.

Mr Rimmer has worked for Boston Consulting Group but has spent most of his career in the Victorian and federal public service, most recently in Canberra as associate secretary, service delivery transformation, Department of Human Services.

Mr Rimmer has been overseeing an ambitious cost-cutting exercise involving the amalgamation and digitisation of federal welfare delivery services.

As a young man, Mr Rimmer played in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and once played at Carnegie Hall in New York with the Australian Youth Orchestra.

He was Victoria’s 1997 Rhodes Scholar, completing an MBA at Oxford University.

Last year he was the recipient of the Sir James Wolfensohn Public Service Scholarship, studying at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the USA.

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