Hamilton City Council's $440,000 man has set-up a company on the side offering motivational speaking.
Council chief executive Richard Briggs registered his new company To Be Blunt in April this year but says at this stage it is for "marketing" rather than "revenue" purposes.
But a governance lawyer has warned the move is extremely unusual as public speaking was usually expected as part of a council chief executive's role and that real care needed to be taken to ensure there was not a future conflict.
Briggs - whose $440,000 salary created headlines when he was given a 33 per cent raise in 2017, is the sole director and shareholder of To Be Blunt. He is listed on LinkedIn as the chief disruption officer. His LinkedIn profile also describes him as a chief influencer, leadership fanatic, chief executive and professional director.
As the keynote speaker, his LinkedIn page promises to help build high performance outcomes while taking a "no holds will be barred" approach.
"Inspiring and motivating you and your teams to reach your leadership potential," the page said.
Briggs told the Herald the company was not operating at the moment, but he eventually planned to offer leadership mentoring and coaching.
"The reason I set it up is it was more for promotion around the leadership side of things and it was more from a marketing perspective than actually looking for revenue opportunities. I'm not doing it for any income.
"I've always been accused of being blunt so I basically wanted to go out there and protect the name."
Briggs said he had already given talks about leadership development and hoped to in the future - either while still at council or once he left - continue with it.
He had not been paid for the three presentations he had already given on his leadership journey and did not plan to get paid for any further talks probably while he remained at council, he said.
"I do speeches and leadership presentations all the time, but none of those are paid. They are just basically me being a good guy."
Briggs remained coy about how long he planned to stay at council or whether he had applied for other jobs, saying he loved his job and still had two years left in his contract.
Kensington Swan partner Hayden Wilson, who leads the firm's governance and regulatory team, said it was an unusual situation for a senior council staff member to be accepting speaking arrangements through a private company, whether paid or unpaid.
"Public speaking is generally considered to be part of a council chief executive's role. Those engagements should normally be arranged through council's processes."
Wilson said there was also an expectation that being a chief executive of a local authority was a fulltime job and did not leave much time for outside work and interests.
While a chief executive, subject to their employment conditions, could set up another company while being employed by council, real consideration needed to be taken by the chief executive and mayor around whether it could lead to a conflict with their job in the future, he said.
"You would expect it to have been fully disclosed and that there is a record of the assessment (probably by the mayor) of why no concerns are likely to arise."
Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association spokesperson Andrew Bydder said while the group expected Briggs to have a life outside council, it was a timely reminder that both staff and elected members that conflicts of interest must be carefully managed with transparency and integrity.
Bydder said transparency was important and questioned whether the council was given the heads-up about what he was doing.
Meanwhile Briggs was also appointed on the board of Surf Life Saving New Zealand in May. He sits on the board with seven others including Momentum Waikato chief executive and former Hamilton City Council general manager Kelvin Eglinton.
Briggs said he had spoken to mayor Andrew King about furthering his skill set and joining a board and helping a cause he was passionate about before applying for the Surf Life Saving New Zealand position.
"One thing I will say though is I'm absolutely committed to the wellbeing of the community and if I see an opportunity and I think my skills will make a bigger impact then I will pursue those. But there's nothing at the moment that I'm pursuing."
The annual $2500 directorship fee he earned from the Surf Life Saving NZ role would be given to council. The meetings were held once a month and Briggs tried to tie them in with other meetings.
"I have no ambition to take up any further responsibilities. It's more about personal growth and surf life saving ."
Briggs' salary sparked an up roar in 2017 when council voted to increase his remuneration by 33 per cent to $440,000. He started the role in October 2014 on $330,000.
Former Hamilton City Council chief executive Barry Harris resigned from Hamilton City Council to become a professional director. He did not hold directorship roles unrelated to council while he was at the helm.
King could not be reached for comment.