Dan Rich, who had been with the city of Campbell since 2005, began his job in Mountain View on July 25 where he will now be responsible for the provision of services to a city of 74,066 people compared with Campbell's 39,349.
Mountain View Patch sat down with Dan Rich for 30 minutes on the morning of Monday, Aug. 8 at the to talk about his transition from Campbell. Rich ordered a pomegranate raspberry tea–he doesn't drink coffee, he explained–and a buttered croissant, which he broke off into pieces and ate between questions. Here's the first of three parts of what Rich had to say:
Mountain View Patch: Welcome to Mountain View, how have your first couple of weeks been?
City Manager Dan Rich: It’s been great. Everyone has been super warm and welcoming.
Patch: You’ve met with some of the employees through mixers …
Rich: Yes. Pretty much the first week I spent doing nothing but meeting employees. Went around to most of the facilities on the first Monday. There was a reception Monday afternoon. Tuesday, some more facilities and another welcome event at our MOC [Municipal Operations Center] service center on Whisman Road.
Patch: Had you spent a lot of time in Mountain View prior to this?
Rich: I’ve lived in the area for 19 years. I’ve lived in Palo Alto and I’ve worked in Sunnyvale for nine years, so I’m pretty familiar but obviously not as well as the people who have worked here for a long time. Compared to an outsider I feel like I know Mountain View reasonably well.
In fact, I did a lot of work with the Mountain View staff when I was in Sunnyvale and I worked on Moffett Field intergovernmental issues.
Patch: Now that you are not an outsider, now that you’ve been "handed the book" with all the "secret information" passed from one city manager to another…
Rich: (chuckle) I haven’t read all of the secret codes yet ….
Patch: … are you surprised by anything you didn’t of how the city works? Is it a delightful surprised? What’s been the most interesting thing to learn now that you are an insider?
Rich: In two week, I still have a lot more learning to do. I knew coming in that there was going to be a lot. It’s bigger and a lot more complex than I was used to. But still somewhat surprised by the incredible variety and pace of activities that are going on. Even now that it’s the “slow time,” so to speak, between council meetings, but there is a lot going on. It’s obviously a much more complex size of organization in terms of the scope of services than what Campbell had….
I am having each department head give me a tour of the city. I did the same thing in Campbell. It’s a wonderful way to see the city but also to see it from different perspective because what the Public Works Director shows you will be different than what the Community Development Director shows you. The Police Chief will show you different things as well. It’s a nice way to see the city multiple times but from different perspective.
Patch: How did you compare Mountain View to Campbell and how will you adjust your management style as a result?
Rich: The basic skills are the same in terms of managing an organization and the issues. The differences, again the scope and the scale, you have about 150 employees in Campbell compared to 550 plus or minus here. So, by definition I was much more hands on in Campbell. It was a smaller organization and you kind of have to be.
One of the adjustments for me will be to step back from the nitty gritty stuff and really stay at the high level of policy and big picture issue. I used to edit the quarterly newsletter, partly because that was my background and it was an area I was interested in, but because I could. I am not going to be able to do that here because I won’t have the time.
Patch: Now that you are managing more people, what is your management style? Do you micromanage? How will you work with so many people in so many more departments?
Rich: Part of it is taking that step back. You got to trust your folks. I can't be an effective City Manager by doing everything myself, because No. 1, I can't physically do it and No. 2, I don't have the expertise. I am not a Police Chief, I am not a Public Works director. So you gotta rely on your people and give them the tools to be successful but also the bandwith and support they need and let them do the research and make the recommendations. Ultimately, the buck stops here and I'm accountable and it'll be my recommendation, but obviously I have to rely on them and their judgment and their expertise.
So, I try to do that, I let them do their jobs and not get in the middle of it. I think my style is very low key. I think that I'm pretty approachable. I don't stand on ceremony or title or formality. I like getting to know people, building the relationships, building the trust level. Making sure people are comfortable with me and I am comfortable with them.
Check back tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 16 for Part Two, where Rich discusses the city's General Plan and the City Council, and how he comes into a partly drawn "big picture."