New hire does not appear to line up with job requirements
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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New hire does not appear to line up with job requirements

Woolwich officials are standing by their decision to hire an executive assistant despite the fact her experience does not appear to meet the requirements set out in the job description. Saskia Koning, a young woman from South Africa who was in the country on a temporary work visa, beat out more than a hundred applicants to get an administrative assistant’s job that pays almost $50,000 a year. While the township has refused to discuss her qualifications, publically-available information shows a résumé that doesn’t line up with what Woolwich was looking for in an executive assistant to the mayor/council and corporate communications assistant.

A photo gleaned from Facebook of Saskia Koning while working at the Charcoal Steakhouse in Kitchener.

The posting for the three-year contract position reads, in part, “Reporting to the CAO and mayor, you will provide confidential and professional senior administrative support to the Mayor and Council including coordination of a variety of administrative, recordkeeping and public relations functions. You will act in a liaison capacity for the mayor/council with all township departments, government officials, outside agencies and the general public.

“Complementing your post-secondary education in office administration, business administration or related disciplines you have a minimum of three years experience in office administration, business administration or executive assistance, at a senior level preferably in local government. A post-secondary education or experience in corporate communications would be considered a definite asset.

“Your noted strengths in organization, communication, public relations and customer service are complemented by your knowledge of local government, municipal procedures, protocol and relevant legislation.”

Koning is listed has having graduated from the University of Cape Town in December 2010 with a degree in film and media production. In an online forum for ex-patriots, she listed her profession as video production assistant. In Canada on a temporary visa that was to expire next month, she had been working as a waitress at a Kitchener restaurant prior to joining township staff on Apr. 26.

Woolwich’s senior bureaucrat, chief administrative officer David Brenneman, would not directly address apparent discrepancies between the job posting and Koning’s qualifications, citing privacy concerns. He maintained she was the best-qualified candidate for the position.

“The Township of Woolwich conducted an open and competitive recruitment process. The candidate selected at the conclusion of the competition was chosen because of her diverse work experience in office administration, project/event management and media/communications co-ordination,” he said this week in a written statement. “The successful candidate’s post secondary education in media, broadcasting, as well as office administration complements her background and experience.”

The township, however, has not made Koning available for an interview, nor released any documents to back its assertions.

Woolwich is currently going through the hiring process for a similar administrative assistant’s position, this a one-year (maternity leave) contract. That job, too, pays $43,000 to $53,000, plus a generous benefits package.

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  1. Thanks to the Observer for exposing the incompetence at the Township. How can the CAO and Mayor justify such a poor decision? I actually feel sorry for this young woman. She has been placed in an awkward spot. No experience, no relevant municipal qualifications. I also feel sorry for the other applicants (100+), some of whom must have been qualified. Time for a new CAO Mr. Mayor. He is leading you down the garden path to poor, non-transparent administration that has no place in Canadian society. He is the only CAO who has also allowed the newbie Council to hike our taxes by over 5% when most other local governments have kept it to 2% or less given the economy. Well Mr. Brenneman, next time the media asks to justify your incredulous decisions will you have the courage to speak to them? The Mayor alone can’t take the fall for this one.

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