A Facilitator of Big and Small Change

PROVO, Utah – Sep 17, 2021 – Sitting on the office desk of BYU Marriott School of Business MPA alum Wayne Parker is a mariner’s spyglass that a former mayor gave him. The gift is meant to remind him to always think about long-term goals. As the current chief administrative officer of the city of Provo, Parker strives to follow this counsel by continually looking to the future of the city that he leads. 

Parker’s future-focused and people-centered leadership style has distinguished him as a noteworthy leader among his fellow government administrators. In 2020 he received the Award for Career Excellence in Memory of Mark E. Keane from the International City/County Management Association. This award recognizes a government administrator who has implemented new programs to help increase the efficiency of local government.  

Parker has worked for the city of Provo for 17 years, and one way he helps the city be more efficient is by using a strategy that former Utah governor Mike Leavitt taught him: knowing how to move the big gears. Parker recalls Leavitt explaining that although a government organization has thousands of employees, a good leader identifies the big gears that influence change not only at the top of an organization but also at the lower levels.

Strengthening the connection between his employees is an example of how Parker’s actions affect change on all levels of his organization. “Some of the big gears are typical key drivers for the economy, such as job creation, citizen engagement, and technology,” explains Parker. “However, the big gears can always change, and one big gear we’ve focused on lately is employee relationships.

“When we first sent employees home to work during the pandemic, they felt isolated and detached,” he continues. “I started what we now call the daily update; I send an email to all employees each afternoon and talk about the fun happenings or recent meetings in the office, just to help employees feel connected. The daily update is one of the most beneficial ideas I’ve had throughout my entire career.”

In fact, Parker’s daily updates have been so successful that he plans to continue writing them even as his employees return to the office. When he asks the employees if he should stop the updates, they reply enthusiastically that they love the daily updates and want them to continue. “At the end of the day, my employees’ performance and morale are dependent on the connections they form with their team of coworkers,” he says.

Outside of the office, Parker wants to ensure the citizens of Provo also feel a sense of connection and belonging. “A number of years ago, we came up with the tagline ‘Welcome Home,’ for the city of Provo to communicate the idea of belonging. Provo has been home for untold numbers of people at some point during their lives,” Parker says. “I sincerely hope every person who lives here even for a short time views Provo as home, and that each individual knows they are wanted and valued in our community.”

Looking back, Parker feels blessed to have chosen a career that allows him to do what he loves on a daily basis. “I love the people I am surrounded by. I hope that I’ve made a difference in the communities where I've worked by improving the quality of life in small and big ways,” he says. However, for Parker, the best is always yet to come. While he feels proud of Provo’s past successes accomplishments, his positive focus for the city remains fixated forward.

MPA alum Wayne Parker
MPA alum Wayne Parker is the current chief administrative officer of the city of Provo. Photo courtesy of Wayne Parker.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert