Senior staffers in Gladys Berejiklian's government have shed light on what it was really like to work alongside the ousted premier who was forced to stand down amid a cloud of corruption.
The former NSW leader has remained an immensely popular figure even in the wake of her shock departure from office on October 1.
She has continued to harbour huge support from well-wishers for her handling of the Black Summer bushfire crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.
But her legacy is now hanging in the balance as the Independent Commission Against Corruption prepares to investigate how millions of dollars worth of taxpayer funds ended up in her disgraced secret lover's electorate.
Despite the controversy, those who worked with her say she is a 'genuinely decent person' who led the state through some of its 'darkest days'.
Jonny Heron, who was the head of Operations and Advance for the NSW Premier (pictured together) described how she personally phoned the families of bushfire victims while she was touring the hard-hit regions in the summer of 2019-20
Despite the controversy, those who worked with Gladys Berejiklian (pictured after wining the 2019 state election) say she is a 'genuinely decent person' who led the state through some of its 'darkest days'
Ms Berejiklian's (pictured getting a selfie with staffers) legacy is now in the balance as the Independent Commission Against Corruption prepares to investigate how millions of dollars worth of tax-payer funds ended up in her disgraced secret lover's electorate
Jonny Heron, who was the head of Operations and Advance for the NSW Premier, described how she personally phoned the families of bushfire victims while they were touring the hard-hit regions in the Summer of 2019-20.
'On one trip to an area torn through by bushfires she met a number of residents who were unable to contact family to let them know they were safe due to the fires destroying cell towers,' he said.
'She took down the names and contact details of the family members. As our trip continued on reaching an area with service, she personally called all of them to let them know their relatives were safe.'
Mr Heron said it was an honour and a privilege to work with the 'fiercely loyal, caring and great to be around' leader who never shied away from her constituents.
'If there was ever a stakeholder being excessively rude and she overheard, she would promptly throw herself straight into the middle of the situation. "Don't talk to my staff that way. You can talk to me instead".'
But things didn't always go to plan for Ms Berejiklian and her team of bureaucrats.
Daryl Maguire and Ms Berejiklian (pictured together) had been secret lovers while in office
The former NSW leader has remained an immensely popular figure even in the wake of her shock departure from office on October 1 (pictured after giving her resignation adress)
Things got off to a very bad start on election night in 2019 when he and the boss arrived at a hotel and headed up to their suite to watch the results start rolling in.
'The lift started moving but came to a sudden stop. We were trapped in a lift on election night,' Mr Heron recalled.
'In a display of over-confidence in my abilities, Glad instinctively looked at me as if to say "fix it".'
'Lucky for us the breakdown (both the lift, and the mental one I was going through) was brief,' he joked.
Part of Ms Berejiklian's popularity stems from the fact she was 'not your typical politician'.
Arminé Nalbandian, the deputy chief of staff and director of policy to the Premier of NSW said the former premier (pictured together) taught her three lessons about working in public service that she will never forget
Staffers Arminé Nalbandian (left with Ms Berejiklian) and Jonny Heron (right with Ms Berejiklian) said it was an honour and a privilege to work with the 'fiercely loyal, caring and great to be around' leader
Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy to the Premier of NSW, Arminé Nalbandian, says this is what the former premier taught her about public service:
1. Work harder and smarter than everyone else, be persistent and always come prepared. If you do, you will find a way through any seemingly intractable challenge.
2. Govern for everyone. It's your job to understand what it means to represent the views of the citizens you serve. Never take the people you serve for granted, you govern at their behest and that is the ultimate privilege.
3. Leadership isn't about popularity and it's not about perfection. It's about making the best decisions based on the available facts and then holding your nerve. It's also about apologising when you get it wrong.
Arminé Nalbandian, the deputy chief of staff and director of policy to the Premier of NSW said through the pandemic 'she entered our lives and our living rooms, and spoke directly to us. She never stood on ceremony'.
'Gladys told it straight and she did so while leading us through some of our darkest hours as