WME rounded up some real ‘All stars’ to help deliver the day. Read on to find out more about them and what they thought of challenge

Vic Allison – Deputy Managing Director, Wychavon District Council

“Do it – its great fun and you are helping others to learn”

Vic has 27 years experience in local government of which almost 20 years has been at a senior (SMT) level / Director of Resources / s151 or equivalent.  He has a wide range of responsibilities including front line services e.g. car parking, customer services, revenues and benefits, corporate projects as well as the traditional resources functions of finance, IT, Property, HR, engineering. Vic is used to operating in a political environment and decision making under pressure, balancing priorities and resources. He was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to local government and the communities of Worcestershire. Vic is also a retained fire fire-fighter, so he is used to dealing with the odd crisis!

Sarah Cottrell – Learning and Development Officer, Staffordshire County Council

“Its an amazing experience and you’ll have great fun!”

Sarah manages Learning and Development activity for an organisation currently employing 5000 people with a very small budget. This requires top notch organisational skills combined with the enthusiasm for doing things differently. Although Sarah manages a suite of classroom based workshops as part of her current role, the challenges faced by local authorities have provided the opportunity to move away from traditional L&D to explore areas such as blended, social and collaborative learning techniques.

Nigel Carruthers – Senior Advisor Workforce Strategy & Policy, Local Government Association.

Nigel has worked for and in local government for over 20 years. He is the Senior Advisor for Workforce Strategy leading on engagement, performance management, resourcing and talent management for local government nationally. The role provides advice, guidance and practice support to councils in England and Wales. Current activities focus on improving manager and employee performance, organisational re-design and improving workforce efficiency and productivity.

Anne-Marie Harley – Communications and Marketing Manager, Bromsgrove and Redditch Councils

Anne-Marie works for one of the first shared services authorities in the country. Bromsgrove and Redditch have a team in the LA Challenge and are also going through Business Transformation so hope to demonstrate how to face local government challenges. Anne-Marie has been a public sector communicator for 15 years and prior to that a journalist for five years.

Rebecca Hess – HR Business Adviser, West Midlands Police

“I was grateful for this opportunity – partner organisations should do it.  Council management is hard!”

Becky has worked as a Human Resources Business Adviser at West Midlands Police since 2008, specialising in conflict management, departmental and force recognition events, employee engagement strategy and flexible working.  She has trained colleagues on handling difficult conversations and mediation skills, regularly conducting mediations between colleagues as an ACAS accredited force mediator.  Current projects involve new strategy on flexible working, self rostering, and a force-wide survey to assess potential demand for various proposals to help flexible workers.  Before this great job (she says), she was a professional trade union official for Unison, and before that a Campaign Manager at Amnesty International.  She speaks French, German and the language of teenagers.  In her spare time she runs a school gardening club, and writes very bad poetry for children, when she is not using the above skills to get them to do their homework.

Bryony Houlden – Chief Executive, South West Councils

Bryony is Chief Executive of South West Councils, a membership organisation of all 41 local authorities in the region. She is also the Employers’ Secretary of SW Provincial Council, the joint negotiating machinery which provides a forum for debate, discussion and negotiation on HR issues. Previously Bryony’s career was spent in Central Government where she undertook a wide variety of roles. These included a number of years working in Ministers’ offices as well as heading the local government finance team, delivering the Rough Sleepers Initiative and working in the Government Office as Director of Environment, Transport and Regeneration.  A trained mediator and coach she is also a volunteer for the Association of Coaching.

Jerry Hutchinson – Chief Executive, North Warwickshire Borough Council

Jerry is Chief Executive of North Warwickshire Borough Council since 1996, and previously occupied Management and Legal roles at Lancaster City, Nottingham City, Hull City and Hambleton District Councils. He has extensive FE and school governor experience, and has enjoyed the Local Government Management Game for a number of years.

Jodie McConnell – Future People Manager, City of Wolverhampton Council

“I would thoroughly recommend all local authority officers consider taking up the role of partner in the LA Challenge. It was great to see how well the teams worked together and to be a part of this game changing day.

This was a fantastic, exhilarating and rewarding experience. I feel privileged to have been able to take part, a highlight of the year for me without doubt!”

Jodie has experience in project management and business change. Currently working in organisational development, leading on leadership development programmes, our Learning Management system, coaching and mentoring, OD initiatives (BPR), employee engagement and employee recognition schemes. City of Wolvehampton have a team in the LA Challenge and Jodie hopes to work further with this team as part of their Aspiring Leaders’ programme so she will be interested in how her team performs and engages with this challenge.

Elaine McGladdery – OD & Learning Manager, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council

“A great experience, will keep you on your toes and you’ll have a lot of fun!
It was a great day – a really good event to be involved in. There was such energy and enthusiasm in the room.”

Being a trainer, Elaine love things like this! When she worked at Coventry she coached the teams for a couple of years for the LGA Challenge, so she does have some experience of how the Challenge works. Also Elaine has been a volunteer for a school/business version of this challenge where school teams had to design a business and market it. They had to pretend to represent the bank whilst they pitched to us etc… It was really good fun and the students really enjoyed it. She has also run assessment centres for recruitment where by we run all sorts of different exercises and have to score as we go along. This would often involve role playing a manager or an awkward customer. Elaine is up for the challenge!

Ian Miller – Chief Executive, Wyre Forest District Council

“It’s non-stop and testing but a great experience for you in supporting future local government senior managers to develop their skills.”

Ian is Chief Executive of a small unitary council and district council from 2002 to date. He was a clerk & monitoring officer to a fire authority 2002-2008. Originally a civil servant working (among other things) on various Bills and secondary legislation to do with local government finance & reorganisation and devolution before becoming head of finance in a local government association. Have been chair of governors of a primary school; am trustee of a small museum with a national collection

Jane Murphy – Head of Transformation and Major Projects, Coventry City Council

“Go for it – there is a lot to learn by being a volunteer (as well as taking part)”

Jane has worked in a local authority for nearly 29 years so has seen a lot of change. Her roles have mainly been in Directorate and Corporate Finance (including setting the annual budget and closing the council’s financial accounts and more recently in Transformation and Change leading the Transformation programme). Jane works with a range of partners (internal and external) and with Council Members.

Fiona Narburgh – Joint Head of Strategy, Democratic & Customer Services, Wychavon District Council

“Brilliant fun, yet great learning opportunity for assessors and players alike.”

Fiona intends to bring ideas, enthusiasm and hopefully some wisdom and insight to the challenge.

Fiona was an assessor for many years on the LGC challenge “game” and very much enjoyed helping develop future leaders. Often she had to role play different organisations and politicians as part of the exercise – which is great fun and great learning for participants and assessors alike. Fiona is a coach through the West Midlands Coaching Pool. She has taken on a new challenge to work for two councils in a new shared management team position, going from managing 17 to a team of nearly 70! Fiona fully understands the challenges faced in the public sector with less money, yet more impact needs to be made; hence the need to focus time and effort on the ‘right things’ and work out what those are.

Bob Perks, Associate Consultant, West Midlands Employers

“Particularly for those of us with long experience of working in local government, the really enjoyable part of the challenge is to meet so many young (or ‘young at heart’) people with a real passion and enthusiasm for the services that local authorities are responsible for.  It very much took me back some (forty?) years when I was excited to start my career with Birmingham Council. I feel strongly that this a valuable event that should be continued with.”

Since retiring (early!) from Warwickshire County Council, Bob has undertaken a number of interim HR assignments, mainly at Head of HR or similar level. He is currently acting as interim Head of HR & OD at Herefordshire Council.

Cllr Roger Phillips – WME Chair, Herefordshire Council

Roger is the Cabinet Member for Corporate Strategy and Finance and formerly leader of the Council.  He is also the Chair of West Midlands Employers.

Lois Stewart – Organisational Development Manager, Telford & Wrekin Council

Lois is a highly dedicated and professional individual with over 20 years experience in Human Resources(HR), Learning and Organisational Development (OD). An experienced manager in local government; operating at various senior levels and working with senior managers to embrace and sustain change, organisational performance and improvement.