LG Challenge Yearbook

In 2019 we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Local Government Challenge.

LG Challenge 2020

The Local Government Challenge began in 2009. This yearbook recognises the achievements of the contestants who have taken part in the programme over the past 10 years and celebrates the positive impact that the Local Government Challenge has had on their careers.

2010

Jessica Woodhouse – 2010 – Finalist

LG Challenge Yearbook - Jessica Woodhouse

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of the first Local Government Challenge I was working at Norwich City Council’s Transformation Team.  I was an ambitious council officer at an exciting time in my career.  I was hoping to learn a lot about the sector, to share learning with my organisation and to be challenged.  I was also a big fan of BBC’s “The Apprentice” and wanted to give the LGA’s version a go.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the Challenge helped me to broaden my horizons and learn about council services that I had less direct experience of.  I still remember all of the challenges I participated in, and most memorably the challenge that my team won to create a video to promote a Surrey leisure centre as a training venue ahead of the 2012 Paralympic Games.  I learned the most from the challenge in which I was the Team Leader, as the feedback I received on my leadership style was an excellent opportunity for reflection and learning.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

My career path has been very diverse and varied since taking part in the Challenge ten years ago. I left Local Government and have been working in the NHS for my local Acute Hospital Trust for the last three years. I still work in Transformation in the Trust’s Improvement Team, helping the hospital on its “journey to outstanding”. I feel that taking part in the Challenge helped me learn a lot about myself and was supportive to my personal development. This has been a core thread through my career, which the Challenge certainly helped to embed.


Angela Holden - 2010 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Angela Holden

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience? 

I was working as the Electoral Services Manager for the London Borough of Hounslow and responsible for the administration of all elections and compiling and maintaining the electoral register. I entered the competition to broaden my knowledge of local government management and services, to take part in new experiences and to challenge myself.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience? 

Taking part in the Local Government Challenge was a fantastic opportunity as I was able to take on new challenges and I enjoyed being the team leader for the last challenge of the competition.  I gained a vast amount of knowledge and experiences relating to other local government services especially in relation to the issues and challenges they each faced.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?   

I am now the Policy Manager for the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) which is a membership organisation that's supports its members, provides training and works closely with the Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office on electoral matters. I enjoy my role working in the electoral profession and supporting its members. The Local Government Challenge was an enjoyable and memorable experience and has been an asset to my CV. 


Von Edomi – 2010 - Contestant

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of the Challenge I was a press and PR manager at Barking and Dagenham Council and hoped to find out more about the wider local government world not just London, the challenges other places faced and how it was addressed.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge itself was fast paced and provided me with the skills to be able to work confidently with partners and senior politicians which has helped me a lot in my career over the years.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now a Corporate Communications Manager and the Local Government Challenge made it easier for me to thrive in this role.

2011
Paul Knight LG Challenge

Paul Knight – 2011 – Winner

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?
 
In the early stages of my career as a public servant and at the time of the Local Government Challenge 2011, I held the role of Customer Services Coordinator at South Cambridgeshire District Council. New to the council, in a new role and working for a new chief executive, it was an exciting time with plenty of opportunity to make a difference within the community and launch a career in public service. 
 
This being my first supervisory role, I developed an interest in leadership and keenly observed the many dynamic and passionate leaders across the sector. I started to consider what type of leader I would be and in what capacity. The Local Government Challenge seemed to me to be an ideal opportunity to develop a greater insight into my own leadership abilities, learn from leaders and peers, explore a range of different disciplines to better understand my strengths and weaknesses, and discover where my passion really lies.
 
What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?
 
As I had hoped, the Challenge provided an opportunity to work alongside a diverse team of energetic and motivated individuals each bringing a different perspective and skill set. The wide range of challenges, each hosted by a different local or central government organisation, offered an unparalleled opportunity to experience different organisational cultures, their many challenges and opportunities, and gain exposure to different areas of service delivery. 
 
Throughout the Challenge we were fortunate to meet and learn from many an inspirational leader. Through the individual challenges we had the opportunity to work and socialise with Council Leaders and Chief Executives, I remember finding their experiences fascinating. On one particular occasion we met with two Government Cabinet Members who took time out to hear about our experience in local government.
 
As the winner of the Challenge 2011 it didn’t stop there. As part of the Bruce Lockhart Scholarship I visited local government in Boston Massachusetts to exchange learning and experience (a relationship I maintain to this day), I attended Ashridge Business School completing the Empowering Leadership Programme, and funded and delivered a project through my council that promoted and empowered a more digitally connected community. I even twice had the opportunity to deliver a speech sharing the stage with representatives of the Government and the House of Lords. 
 
It is hard to think of another opportunity so early on in a career where such experience and such access could be gained, let alone over a six-month period. I took my learning and fresh perspectives away with me and worked with my chief executive to create opportunities to apply them.
 
What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

The Challenge helped me identify my passion for what I would describe as authentic leadership and transformational change and I was fortunate to work for an organisation that not only embraced my passions but supported me in my development of the associated skills and experience. I swiftly progressed my career from managing tactical change projects to directing organisational wide programmes of public service reform. In a short space of time I had developed a portfolio of successful programmes with a demonstratable link to the desired outcomes.
 
It was this experience, combined with the continued desire for variety and new challenges, that in 2014 I took the decision to become a Management Consultant delivering services to the public sector. I haven’t looked back. Now days I enjoy working with local, central and crown dependency government departments to achieve radical and sustainable organisational changes in support of big visions and positive outcomes for the people they serve. I love what I do, and whether its translating vision or policy into transformational initiatives or rolling up my sleeves and leading the delivery of these ambitious programmes of change, I regularly reflect on my time in the Challenge and how it helped me discover my vocation.  


Reniera O'Donnell – 2011 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Reniera O'Donnell

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

In 2011, I was working as Housing Strategy and Client Manager at Lambeth Council. The first day of challenge one was my first day back after a year of maternity leave. I applied while on maternity leave as I really enjoy challenges like this (I took part and was part of the winning team in the 2003 LGC Challenge day). It was a great way to come back into work after a year off and to rebuild my confidence and leadership abilities. I hoped to gain a more broad experience of service areas and test the transferability of my skills. Obviously, I also went in to win!

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

It really did give me the confidence to believe in my ideas and ability to lead a team. I was the only contestant in the winning team for every challenge that year. I realised exactly how transferable my skills were, and are, and that has allowed me to take on more ambitious roles and develop my career in Local Government. It cemented my understanding of my own desire to be at the top and to have a strategic and visionary role.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am currently the Assistant Director of Regeneration at the Isle of Wight Council. As I have already said, understanding my own skills and what I value in a job role really helped me to have the confidence to apply for progressively more senior roles at both Kingston Council and now at the Isle of Wight. The Challenge certainly allowed me to voice my opinion on things outside of my service area and be confident that what I am saying has value.

I have just made the decision to leave Local Government (after 18 years) and take a role in the charitable sector. This is completely different, in a different subject matter and I don't think I would have even thought about applying if I didn't have the confidence in how transferable my skills are and also how quickly I can pick up challenges and find a suitable way through them. The Local Government Challenge certainly made me realise how quickly I can pick up new ideas / challenges and come up with solutions that are both practical and deliverable.


Ayesha Hakim Rahman – 2011 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Ayesha Hakim Rahman

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I had only joined local government as a graduate trainee six months before applying. I felt the Local Government Challenge would give me a good overview of my new career field (little did I realise that it would in fact transform my career in local government- more on this below!).

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Where do I start? I always say the Local Government Challenge is fast-track local government training that you simply cannot buy. I admittedly was one of the weakest candidates, but as a result I feel I gained so much more from the experience. Aside from the obvious benefits, such as grasping a better understanding of local government challenges and needs, the process helped me be more open to change and being out of my comfort zone.

The challenges themselves were so comprehensive, that in a very short space of time I was building a wealth of skills in negotiating, teamwork, leadership, presentation and, most importantly, how to live on four hours of sleep (ah, the memories!).

I think the above summarises what I valued most from the Local Government Challenge that it throws you straight into the deep end and your only option is to swim, and if you can’t swim, then to learn to swim (and to do it quickly!). I always feel it has been this process that has now given me the ability to be so adaptable and resilient at work. Something that, since joining the challenge, has enabled me to move up ten pay grades at a fast pace.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now a Strategy & Change Manager for Islington Council. I lead the Environment & Regeneration PMO function, as well as council-wide service redesign, helping close our current £50m gap.

The challenge gave me an incredible head-start in terms of skills gained to help me progress from a graduate to an officer role. Over time, the confidence and receptiveness to change I secured from the Challenge meant I was able to quickly be promoted to a senior management role for an incredibly reputable council. It’s funny how I have ended up working for corporate strategy & change for over four years now- when ‘change’ is the thing I feared most when I first applied for the Local Government Challenge!


Jackie Nolan – 2011 – Contestant

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of the Local Government Challenge I was a manager within Adult and Community Learning at South Tyneside Council, leading on a range of programmes to engage young people not in education, employment or training, apprenticeships and basic skills. I hoped to be able to apply my experience, skills and knowledge to the range of challenges in order to achieve a positive outcome.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge dispelled the myth that you need to be an ‘expert’ in a particular area to be able to respond effectively to varying scenarios. It highlighted the effectiveness of team working and how crucial it is to maximise every team players strengths to get the best possible outcome. I valued the opportunity to apply a range of skills and learn from others experiences. In addition it was refreshing to be able to achieve so much within the short timeframes of each challenge.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am still a happy employee at South Tyneside Council. Thanks to the myth busting experience of the Challenge I have had a range of successful management roles since.  My current role is the South Tyneside Business Manager for the Children and Adult’s Safeguarding Boards. In addition I am actively involved in developing a regional approach to the new safeguarding arrangements for children in the North East.


2012

Hannah Lavender – 2012 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Hannah Lavender

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was working at Northampton Borough Council, as a Learning and Organisational Development Partner. I was excited to be part of the Local Government Challenge, wanting (and gaining) the opportunity to stretch my skills and test them in unfamiliar surroundings. Classroom learning has its value but I was eager to get out into the wider sector and see what I would learn from actually doing. I hoped the Local Government Challenge would give me a chance to deepen my knowledge of local government and the people and environment it’s there to serve.

 

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience? 

I really value having had the chance to work with, hear from, and get feedback from such a wealth of people. I still find the feedback and learning I gained during the experience helpful today – be it to reflect on a strength I need to dial up or a habit I could do with dialling down! The Challenge gave me a good dose of ‘there’s value to your skills’.

 

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

After 10 years in local government, I now work for St Andrew’s Healthcare. The charity delivers specialist mental healthcare and I support this as a Business Change practitioner. The Local Government Challenge helped me explore my values and highlighted where my strengths could make a difference. I often recommend people get involved with the Challenge; it’s certainly worth stepping out of your comfort zone for! 

2013

Lana Northey – 2013 – Winner

LG Challenge - Lana Northey

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge was at a crucial time in my career. Having completed the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP), my first real job at Leeds City Council was on a project team and my contract was coming to an end when I decided to apply for the competition. I actually applied because my manager at the time saw it on the intranet and encouraged me to go for it! I hoped the challenge would be an opportunity to broaden my knowledge of local government nationally, to push myself in new and challenging areas and to meet likeminded people from across the country. Little did I know that I would go on to win and it would be a truly career-changing experience!

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; not helped by my completing a Master’s while working full time and getting married in the same year.  The challenges were fast-paced, intellectually challenging and delivered in a high pressure environment. However, I loved every second of it and valued the opportunity to work alongside the other creative candidates. I grew in confidence and learnt new skills over the 5 challenges and by the end of the process I was ready to show the judges what I could do, and I was very privileged to be named the winner. Having won, my profile was greatly raised within Leeds City Council I had the opportunity to work with the Chief Executive and other Senior Officers to whom I would not normally have exposure, to develop my proposal. I went on to represent UK Local Government in the USA and Europe and had the opportunity to present in large auditoriums and work with colleagues from across the world in the development of CSR Plus which can be found here: https://csrplus.leeds.gov.uk/

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now a Commissioning Manager at Leeds City Council, commissioning services for adults with learning disabilities across Leeds. I really love my job and the Local Government Challenge gave me the opportunity to demonstrate a lot of the skills that I need to do it. The Challenge was a chance to tackle tough, real life challenges in councils across the country, spanning front line, financial, creative and leadership challenges. I developed and honed my people and political management skills, business acumen and presentation style while gaining valuable media experience. The experience is one I will never forget and I’m sure everything I learnt will continue to inform my career for many years to come.


Scott Sullivan – 2013 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Scott Sullivan

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I completed the Challenge in 2013 and at the time, worked in Thurrock Council as an Environment Programme Manager.  This was a strategic role overseeing a range of Council initiatives, partnerships and grant-funded projects in Thurrock green spaces.  I applied to the Local Government Challenge to broaden my experience and visibility with the Council – I was approached by the Council’s senior management team regarding the opportunity and my journey went from there!

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge really stretches you developmentally – you have to think broadly about complex problems in different contexts and develop solutions quickly and clearly.  The nature of the experience makes you far more aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are, which has helped better focus my career development.  Reflecting on the experience, I particularly valued how it instilled a greater sense of self awareness and a grounded self-confidence.  As a runner up, I secured a place on a Strategic Leadership course with fellow finalists and local authorities – this was excellent and I am still making use of the contacts forged there five years later! 

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I established a fundraising consultancy business (Scott B Sullivan Associates, www.sbsa.co.uk) in 2015, working with charities, communities, local authorities and businesses to make better places.  Major restructuring in Thurrock Council had presented me with a personal dilemma – I could either take a new role that didn’t feel quite right, or resign to take more direct control over my career development.  The learning from the Challenge was a contributing factor towards the choice I made and I have not looked back since.  I now enjoy a far greater breadth of work with a range of different clients which continually stretches and grows me professionally – the Challenge in 2013 gave me my first real taste of this, opening my eyes to what was possible.    


James Wyatt – 2013 – Contestant

LG Challenge - James Wyatt 2013

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I had just been promoted to a Project and Change Officer with Leadership and Management responsibilities for a medium-sized Administration and Clerical team. This included task, line and motivational management. I was advised to apply for the Local Government Challenge to support this development, meet new people and gain confidence to put all of my previous learning e.g. Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 4 Diploma, into practice; testing and learning in a variety of local authority establishments across the Country.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

It provided me with the self-confidence and assurance that I could progress within a Local Authority organisation. It allowed me to establish relationships, networks and develop skills and knowledge at a sector wide level. It supported my own Continued Professional Development (CPD) by establishing credibility as a Local Government Officer across 5 Local Authority organisations and being present at the Annual Local Government Association Conference. I was able to take all of this back to Somerset County Council and this has added value, increased my credibility and helped me progress confidently up the ladder within the organisation.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now an established Project and Change Manager within Information Communication Technology (ICT) Transformation, an Innovation Champion (across the whole Authority) and play a lead role in Coaching and Mentoring. The Local Government Challenge is exactly that – a ‘challenge’ – however it’s an extremely positive challenge that enables you to test and learn ideas, promote yourself, gain confidence and build a network across the country. A key element is establishing credibility and being a ‘Local Government Challenge Final 10 contestant’ which really makes people stand up and think ‘this person could make a difference and add real value’. I would 100% support that anyone wanting to progress in Local Government should take part in this fantastic opportunity.

2014

Graeme Kane – 2014 – Winner

LG Challenge - Graeme Kane

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of applying I was the Environmental Services Manager at Mole Valley District Council. I was prompted to apply for the Challenge by my Director and I am forever grateful that he gave me the nudge I needed. I signed up because it sounded like fun! It was something different and looked like an opportunity to learn more about local government beyond my immediate service area and district council. I wanted to learn more about what was going on across the sector and see how other authorities were dealing with the challenges and opportunities. I’ll be honest, my competitive streak was keen to see how I fared against other local authority officers who were equally keen to develop and further their career but I wanted to do it in a collegiate and supportive environment where we could learn and encourage each other. I had absolutely no preconception that I would go on to win the competition; I was much more focused on learning and doing my best as part of a team.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

There is no doubt that taking part in the Challenge gave my career a boost. It remains a proud line on my CV and part of my local government story. It opened my eyes to what a career in local government could offer and made me appreciate the diversity of the sector. It also made me much more aware of the LGA and what it offers those working within local government as well as greatly increasing my network of friends and colleagues across the sector. The challenges themselves were great fun (if exhausting) but the competition was only part of the experience; my involvement in the Local Government Challenge and with the LGA has continued far beyond my final challenge. Since winning, my involvement led to me meeting the Secretary of State in the House of Commons to discuss the benefits of the Challenge, as well as attending a conference on social innovation at a conference in Silicon Valley; I never envisaged either when I set off on this adventure! I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed hosting two challenges and giving others the chance to have a similar Local Government Challenge experience.

 What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

 I am now Deputy Chief Executive at Cherwell District Council with responsibility for housing; environmental services; environmental health and licensing; communities and leisure, among others. The demands on me now are much the same as taking part in one of the Local Government Challenges: I need to think creatively; inspire others to be ambitious in their service delivery; work with partners to get the best for our residents; and juggle a multitude of priorities. It’s fast-paced and it’s fun. My experience of the Challenge helped me to appreciate that I could confidently work across a wide breadth of services, use my creativity and that of those around me to solve a range of problems, and also that delivering services to our residents is best done in partnership with other organisations and people.


Si Chun Lam – 2014 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Si Chun Lam

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I took part in the 2014 Local Government Challenge. At the time, I had two years of experience as a Corporate Performance Officer in Coventry City Council, and I was looking to gain a wider, more strategic understanding of the operation of local government as a way to progress and develop my career.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge was a fantastic opportunity to work with some fantastically ambitious and talented fellow contestants, as well as elected members and senior council officers who were all incredibly passionate and dedicated about making a difference to their local communities and people, in a way that best suited their local context. I particularly valued the opportunity to engage with and learn from other authorities about the different ways in which they anticipated and addressed emerging challenges faced by local authorities and the wider public sector across the country.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

 I still work for Coventry City Council, but have moved into a management role, leading a team of economists and social science researchers as Insight Development Manager. In my role, I have had the privilege and opportunity to lead Coventry’s severe and multiple disadvantage programme, as well as lead the development of an intelligence hub to support Coventry’s priorities as a City of Culture; Marmot City and Housing First. Participating in the Local Government Challenge, as well as the Strategic Leadership in Management programme (offered to the four finalists in 2014) massively helped in increasing my ability and confidence to cultivate, negotiate and develop relationships with senior stakeholders. As a result, I would most certainly continue to highly recommend the Local Government Challenge to aspiring leaders across local government.


Matthew Carney – 2014 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Matthew Carney

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was a Planning Officer in the development management team at Worcester City Council. With Worcester being a small urban district authority, I wanted to gain a greater understanding of the types of challenges other authorities faced whilst testing my own skills against what looked like exciting challenges in previous years. 

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the Challenge gave me more confidence in my own abilities as I was tasked in completely different areas compared to my normal day to day job. I certainly hadn’t been filmed doing a Q&A on camera before! This variety of experiences and opportunity to meet and engage with senior staff in different local authorities is what I value most from the Challenge and believe has helped enormously in my career so far.    

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there

I am now working for the London Borough of Croydon as a Principal Planner in their Major Development Team via a stint for a couple of years in the planning reform team within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Challenge has certainly helped widen my thinking from specific local issues to broader more strategic matters and without doubt increased my confidence in tackling difficult issues. I’m very grateful for the experience the LGA provides in running Local Government Challenge.

2015

Jude Taylor – 2015 - Winner

LG Challenge - Jude Taylor 2015

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I'd recently started working at Staffordshire County Council, my first job within a local authority.  I was looking to development my understanding of the local authority landscape as a whole and was also keen to get to grips with the political dimension of the role - the Challenge fit the bill perfectly.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge immediately boosted my profile within SCC, it opened doors with senior officers and members, this resulted in a number of develop opportunities, which may have been out of reach otherwise. Having constructive, independent and professional feedback from LGA officers over a six month period, was invaluable, this has really shaped the way I operate, on a day to day basis and accelerated my development.

Without a doubt the most valuable part of the experience was the relationships I developed with my fellow contestants and LGA staff, since the Challenge we’ve keep in touch and supported each other’s development, I’m sure these relationships will only become more valuable as people rise through the ranks.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I’m the Director of Sport across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.  The Challenge provided me with the skills, confident and experience I needed to progress – without the Challenge I simply wouldn’t have got the job!


Stuart Lester – 2015 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Stuart Lester

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I worked in a Digital team in Birmingham City Council, and I had a history in IT and back office services. My career aim was to understand more about the business side of local government, to see how technology could be applied in a meaningful way and to get exposure to senior leaders and politicians, of which I had zero experience.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

I gained all of the experience that I sought from the Challenge. My main take away was the confidence boost it gave me in dealing with different situations whilst under pressure and getting frank feedback form senior leaders and politicians.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now the Data Insight Manager at the West Midlands Combined Authority, I have a team of 13 people in total, producing documents, reports and dealing with strategic approaches to data and technology. I genuinely believe that this is a result of the confidence I gained and the network of people I met on the Challenge who have supported me through my career progression.


Angela Glithero - 2015 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Angela Glithroe

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

As an Assistant Director in the Economy, Transport and Environment department at Derbyshire County Council, I was involved at a strategic level in a range of interesting front line services back in 2015 when I applied for the Local Government Challenge.  I saw the challenge as an exciting opportunity to get involved in issues outside of my day job and gain some new skills and experience along the way.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

I absolutely loved the Local Government Challenge experience.  I enjoyed solving difficult problems in a fast paced and collaborative way and learnt a lot from other contestants and the people at the councils we visited.  I brought some of the ideas back to my council and Derbyshire hosted a challenge itself the following year.  The thing I valued most was seeing how things worked in other councils and learning from how others were tackling challenging issues.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I’m still in the same role at Derbyshire, although I’ve taken on more responsibility for different services and projects. The Local Government Challenge helped me to see that innovative solutions to problems can be found quickly and I use this experience to try to promote creative ways of doing things in Derbyshire. 


Sarah Porter – 2015 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Sarah Porter

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

Sustainable Sheppey Project Manager.  I wanted to broaden my understanding of the sector, to improve my own council by developing new ideas with other candidates and to get out of the office to speak to other people working at all levels in the sector.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The experience helped me to feel more confident in my own skills, to understand where I needed to develop and inspired me to do better.  I valued the time out that the challenges gave me, which made me realise where my passion lies.  I also made some really good friends who are supportive and encouraging and who help me reflect about life in the sector and focus on the opportunities rather than the challenges that working in local government brings.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I’m currently the interim Policy Manager at Swale, although I also have some digital and change skills that I keep up to date by working across the council on a variety of projects.  The Challenge made me realise what I’m good at and a lot of that is talking to people and understanding when and how I can help them do their job better.

2016

David McCollum – 2016 – Winner

LG Challenge - David McCollum 2016

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

When I first spotted the chance to apply for the Local Government challenge I was working as the Senior Commissioner for Crime and Disorder at Lambeth Council. Prior to this, most of my working career had been spent in delivery of provision, both as first point of contact in Lambeth’s busy homeless persons unit and through an outreach role, engaging and supporting some of the council’s most vulnerable residents. I very nearly never entered the Local Government Challenge, but thankfully found the time at the very last minute. It sounded like an exciting and unique opportunity to build my experience, networks and learning – but I definitely underestimate how challenging and rewarding it would be.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

As learning experiences go I don’t think the Local Government challenge can be compared to anything I’ve ever encountered and the impact of the learning is ongoing. The challenges are complex, testing and almost certainly out of your comfort zone. As a contestant you are thrown in at the deep end, with exposure to councils, leaders and chief executives from all sorts of different backgrounds. The challenges enhanced my confidence, encouraged me to think more boldly and taught me the importance of networking in a way that I hadn’t really grasped before. And that learning hasn’t left me. I was lucky enough to make it through to the final stages and made the decision for the final to go big, and opened with a bold proposal to ERADICATE child sexual exploitation. Thankfully I was announced as the 2016 winner, and this has had a massive impact on my work and career.

Winning got me mentored by the Director of Children’s Services, exposure to the chief exec and leader – which is very hard to come by if you are not on a graduate scheme. But it also fundamentally changed the work I was doing at Lambeth, and gave me the mandate and confidence to shape my role to build the experience I wanted.

My initial proposal to eradicate CSE developed into a heavily researched and evidenced innovative plan to eradicate all forms of child exploitation – Youth violence, CSE, VAWG, Modern Slavery, Gangs and County Lines etc. The plan grew and resulted in me leading on and submitting a complex £1.6 million bid for funding of an exploitation prevention service intended to operate across 6 London Boroughs. Unfortunately, although we were shortlisted from over 50 applications to the last 5, we lost out to another bid.

While all this was going on I set about spending my Bruce Lockhart scholarship and had a career-changing and once in a lifetime visit to Deep South, USA. Visiting incredible projects operating in unbelievable poverty, and a context without social care or a welfare state as we know it. I visited projects in schools, working with gangs, supporting women in prostitution and most enlightening for me projects that respond to Adverse Childhood Experiences, a model that recognises the huge biological role trauma plays in childhood development.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

All of things above happened within a year, and on top of my day job, but winning the Local Government Challenge literally changed the trajectory of my career and gave me the experience and exposure to move into children’s services, where my interest really lay. I applied for a new job at Lewisham Council, a role that I hoped would give me the autonomy and seniority to start to implement serious, evidence based change. And I got it. So I’m now the joint commissioner for early intervention at Lewisham working across the council and CCG with a really interesting, diverse and challenging portfolio that has given me the opportunity to continue to shape and embed the learning I picked up through the Local Government Challenge.


Heather Storey – 2016 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Heather Storey

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was working as a Category Manager for Education and Inclusion at the London Borough of Croydon and I wanted a chance to develop and test out leadership techniques as well as gaining a breadth of experience both across portfolios and geographies.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge allowed me space to grow and test ideas, it gave me a peer support network and contacts with senior leaders across the sector. I gained specific experience and strengthened my skills around presenting, negotiating, thinking innovatively and leading work. My proposal for the final of the Challenge was taken forward by my council at the time and made a difference to the children it affected and the ongoing work of the Council. As a result of being in the final of the LGC I was able to seek a new mentor who has since championed my success.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now Head of Commissioning for Children’s Care and Support at Barking and Dagenham, and the confidence and ambition the Local Government Challenge fostered in me is encouraging me to go for my first job at a Director level, over the next 12 months.


Luke Keen – 2016 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Luke Keen

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of my Local Government Challenge I was working as Birmingham City Councils Network Strategy and Change Manager.  I was relatively new to the role and it was my first managerial position.  I hoped to gain valuable experience in managing mini projects and people from areas which I would not be able to gain experience as part of my day job. For example working with vulnerable children and adults is something I would not have had the chance to do if it wasn’t for the Local Government Challenge.  I also hoped that by taking myself out of my comfort zone I would improve in areas that I had relatively little experience.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge was a huge learning curve and allowed me to have the confidence to take on bigger challenges at work and look for promotion opportunities to develop my career.  It also showed me different methods of working and how to get the best out of my team and other staff within my organisation.  The sheer volume of what we achieved on each challenge in such a short period of time showed me how much you can achieve when you put your mind to a task and set challenging targets.

I value the friendships and relationships I built during and after my time taking part in the Challenge.  I have regular contact with the Alumni from my year and I love to hear how well they are all progressing.  You never know what doors may open off the back of the networks you build on the Local Government Challenge.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I managed to secure a promotion and I firmly believe that the Local Government Challenge helped with the interview process; I was extremely comfortable presenting in front of very senior staff and councillors. I am now the Traffic Manager for Birmingham City Council, the youngest employee on Birmingham’s senior management team and the youngest Traffic Manager in the country by some distance.  I’m currently managing Birmingham’s road network through a period of development not seen since the conclusion of World War II.  I am working on HS2, the Midland Metro Extension, Paradise Circus Development and the introduction of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone to name a few projects. All whilst working towards ensuring the city is in its best possible shape for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. I also hope to use my unique experiences and willingness for change to bring innovative ideas forward which use data to change the way we manage traffic across the country. If you are thinking of applying, do not hesitate, the Local Government Challenge is by far the best ‘free’ learning experience available to local government employees. You will not be disappointed!


Kate Henderson – 2016 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Kate Henderson

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of the Local Government Challenge, I was working for South Ribble Borough Council at Strategic Housing Manager, after I had worked away from the sector for a for year.  I had been informed of the opportunity by my colleague, Darren Cranshaw who had an excellent understanding of local authority issues and the work of the LGA.   He felt that the Local Government Challenge would be good experience for me. I was aware that there were increasing pressures facing councils, and I wanted to develop my understanding of these, and also be able to think more creatively about how we could address these.  I also wanted to learn more about the role of the LGA and meet colleagues across a range of different types of councils to build my professional network.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The main thing that the Local Government Challenge did for me was allow me to understand my strengths and weaknesses.  Working in such pressurised and intense situations that required a range of skills and knowledge meant I could reflect after each challenge to understand what I did well, and where I needed to improve.  I don’t think many other development opportunities give you that live experience which tests you in such way.  I definitely found the first few challenges harder, but with each challenge, I grew in confidence, and by the last challenges, I really felt more comfortable and was able to contribute more.

After the Challenge, I was able to use the experiences to help shape my development programme, particularly with regard to skills needed within my role and my wider organisation such as leadership, business planning and risk management.  One of the main aspects of the Local Government Challenge I valued was the people I met.  We all bonded over the experience and still keep in touch 3 years later.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am currently Head of Strategy and Planning for The Riverside Group, a national housing association.  My role involves corporate planning, policy and strategy, research, strategic regeneration, influencing and management of the organisation’s charitable Foundation.  I have been in post for nearly two years after leaving South Ribble Borough Council in August 2017.  The role was a promotion from the current role I had.  I think it was the confidence I gained through the Local Government Challenge that enabled me to apply for and successfully get this new role.  Whilst I don’t work for a local authority, I still have close working with councils through our policy and strategy and influencing work.


Amy Newnham – 2016 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Amy Newnham

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time, I was working for East Sussex County Council as Organisational Development Advisor. I wanted to progress in my career and so I was hoping to gain some skills and experience to get me to the next step. I also wanted to meet other people who worked in local government to learn from them. I also hoped to win the competition. Two out of three isn’t too bad - Dave was a worthy winner!

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the Challenge was a pivotal point in my career. It gave me experience in coping under pressure, managing people I wouldn’t necessarily choose to work with and made me see that the more senior roles in an organisation were within my reach. I started to believe in myself more.

I also started to write a blog as part of the challenge and this is something I’ve kept up, almost three years later with 20,000+ hits and 500+ followers and I have trained as a coach, which was a long-standing goal of mine.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I’m now an Organisational Development Business Partner at Adur & Worthing Councils. I work with the senior leadership team to support the development of our organisation, am responsible for service design (designing around the communities we serve) and I manage a significant learning and development budget. I’m also designing a new apprenticeship for service design, which I proactively went after and am really excited about!

It was the growth in my self-confidence through the Local Government Challenge which helped me to get this job - mostly because of realising that I was capable of so much more. I started applying for jobs that were more aspirational and for organisations that intrigued me.

I’m really grateful for the opportunity I received by completing the Local Government Challenge and would love to support others at my organisation to complete the Challenge going forward.

I'm also a mum of a gorgeous 18 month old, Jenson, who was born at the end of 2017.


Emily McGuinness – 2016 - contestant

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time I decided to apply for the Local Government Challenge I was working as a Scrutiny Manager across three district councils in Somerset – and had been doing so for some time. After returning to work after maternity leave, I knew that if I was ever going to do anything different – now was the time. Working in small district councils, personal development opportunities are limited as there is often little, or no funding available. I was also conscious that I wanted to move away from Scrutiny and I saw the Local Government Challenge as an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and to demonstrate that I was ambitious and not content to continue to plough the same furrow!

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge was the most exhausting work experience of my life and was certainly emotional – the input from Amy and Stephen was invaluable. Their honest and constructive feedback was the catalyst for me to build on myself confidence. Learning how others saw, and valued, my contribution to the tasks was a real eye opener to me. I also amazed myself by how much I knew about Local Government and that I had the basics to build a more dynamic role for myself in a field I am genuinely passionate about.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now a Local Government Association Advisor working in the South West Team and I love my new role – the Local Government Challenge gave me the confidence to try new things and to rule myself in rather than out of opportunities. Immediately following the Challenge I was appointed as a Transformation Lead and shortly after, became the workstream lead for the creation of the new Somerset West and Taunton Council – I believe that being able to say I was part of the Local Government Challenge made me more ‘noticeable’ to my employers and they realised that I was serious about developing my career. Being part of the Local Government Challenge inevitably gave me greater exposure to the LGA and when an opportunity arose to join the SW team I couldn’t believe my luck – I will be forever grateful to the Local Government Challenge for re-igniting my love of local government – if that’s not too cheesy?!

2017

Denise Blair – 2017 – Winner

LG Challenge - Denise Blair

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

When I was accepted as one of the contestants for the Local Government Challenge 2017 I was working in the London Borough of Croydon within the public health team. I was delighted to be taking part in the Challenge as I was looking forward to the prospects of better understanding how local government operates throughout the country and I was excited at the opportunity to work with a variety of teams on topic areas which I had no previous experience of working within. 

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Not only has taking part in the Local Government Challenge helped me to improve my communication skills and political awareness it has also supported me to further understand myself and my leadership style. 

What I most value from the Challenge was the opportunity to exercise my problem solving skills to work within a range of different teams to develop real and meaningful solutions for each council within a short time frame. I am now more confident to take on new challenges and to approach existing challenges with a different perspective, which has helped me to find innovative solutions to complex issues. 

In addition by taking part in the Challenge it has raised my profile and the profile of my proposal area; teenage pregnancy within my council and further afield. I was also honoured to be nominated by my council for the Local Government Chronicle -Rising Star award which I was recognised as being highly commendable. 

 What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

After winning the challenge I met with relevant industry leaders to begin to develop my proposal idea and worked with a team to set up a successful borough wide engagement event on addressing teenage pregnancy. Having recently returned from maternity leave I am looking forward to implementing the ideas within my proposal and continuing this exciting journey whilst developing within my career.

https://www.shakinghands.co.uk/news/20171117_tackling-teenage-pregnancy/ 


Catherine Anderson – 2017 - Finalist

LG Challenge - Catherine Anderson

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was leading Doncaster Council’s programme management team, the projects were focused on financial savings and I was fairly new to the role. I hoped to make connections and build my confidence and get some exposure to senior management and elected members (in a safe environment!)  

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Each assignment required an understanding of the place and people within it and with the freedom to approach a range of individuals (staff, people on the street, school children, local businesses etc.) we gathered intelligence to help shape our thinking and be creative with ideas – the challenge definitely taught me about the dangers of complacency, what’s happening on the ground is easier to find out if you’re there searching – our findings were well received by leadership who would struggle to dedicate a consecutive 48 hours with their peers.   With a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to achieving and senior management open to new ideas; it was an eye opener to see how suggestions could grow at speed into properly shaped proposals with some real traction. 

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I used my experiences from the challenges at interview and went on to take a new role within the council.  I am the Financial Assurance Manager, I help shape the business cases for new proposals whilst making sure they stack up from a financial perspective. As a result of the challenge, I’m more confident to make suggestions and challenge the direction. My approach and thinking has definitely changed – I now focus on the desired outcomes to be achieved in a place through the people in it, using the strengths and opportunities that exist at community level and I’m better at recognising and supporting others who are trying to enable that. 


Alison Millbourn – 2017 – Contestant

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What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was an Advanced Public Health Specialist and placed in the Wider Factors Theme working to influence the wider system in terms of preventative health, eg working with Planning to ensure that the built environment is conducive to good health, working with Transportation colleagues to ensure that active travel is incorporated into highway designs, etc.  I hoped to gain a better understanding of the innovation taking place within other local authorities across the country, and to learn from other challengers taking part in the Challenge.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the Challenge was one of the best work related experiences I have had, and I found the experience to be thoroughly enjoyable and exciting – albeit exhausting!  I firmly believe that the learning I took from the challenges enabled me to finally achieve the next level of Public Health Manager.  I valued so much of the experience that I find it difficult to pull out any specifics, but I particularly enjoyed the visit to HMP Stanford Hill to gather the views of prisoners there, which I found extremely humbling. 

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

As already said, I am now a Public Health Manager.  Being selected as one of the 10 Challengers, and then becoming one of the 4 finalists, led to my levels of confidence increasing dramatically, in a way that no other experience has managed to do. 


Georgia Faherty – 2017 - Contestant

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What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of the Local Government Challenge I was working at Coventry City Council as a Programme Manager in the Public Health team. This was my first role in local government. I applied for the Local Government Challenge because I had always wanted to go on 'The Apprentice' but also wanted to use my skills and experience to do something meaningful and improve outcomes for people. I wanted to widen my exposure to local government and to gain experience, as well as to create something useful that could make a difference to people's lives across the country.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

 I learned a lot from participating in the Local Government Challenge. I particularly valued working in a supportive environment where I could try things out, make mistakes and get valuable feedback that didn't affect my day to day role, so that I could quickly build my skills and confidence.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am currently working in the NHS, and am about to start training to become a Public Health consultant, which will involve going back to local government. Completing the Local Government Challenge definitely helped with the application process for the training scheme, as I had to think quickly and work constructively in a group! It will also help me throughout my career as it has given me the confidence to navigate challenging political environments and the skills to handle whatever is thrown at me.


Daniel Clark – 2017 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Daniel Clark

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

When I took part in the Local Government Challenge I worked in Doncaster Council’s Strategy and Performance Unit as a Senior Strategy and Performance Manager. My focus was on developing partnerships and the borough strategy. I was looking to gain insight into how other local authorities operated, what different challenges were present for different tiers of local government, and also an opportunity to meet and learn from ambitious and talented officers from across the country.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the challenge gave me insight into how, regardless of geography or local issues, it is often strong working relationships that play a pivotal role in delivering effective services for communities. It was great to speak to a vast array of senior officers and elected members about the challenges we were set. As all challenges were ‘live’ issues it felt that my input helped to play a part in working towards a solution. The ability to meet and discuss local government with chief executives and directors was an invaluable opportunity. I also really valued the chance to discuss issues with communities, business leaders and members of the voluntary sector.

In my local authority, taking part in the Local Government Challenge gave me exposure and an opportunity to meet and discuss ideas with senior leaders. It also gave me confidence to pursue new opportunities...

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

Six months after finishing the Local Government Challenge I applied for and secured the role of Strategic Development Manager for Doncaster’s new central library and museum (www.doncaster.gov.uk/iconicbuild). The £15m iconic development will see Heritage Doncaster and the Doncaster library service move into a modern building in the centre of town, complemented by a new rail heritage centre, art gallery and business incubation space.

My time on the Local Government Challenge gave me an even greater appetite for trying new things. When I saw the opportunity to work on this exciting project I jumped at the chance. By participating in the Local Government Challenge I learnt to get stuck in, and quick, and to embrace complexity - both things have served me well in my new project.

2018

Kartar Singh – 2018 – Winner

LG Challenge - Kartar Singh

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of competing in the 2018 Local Government Challenge, I was a Senior Corporate Officer at Wiltshire Council, focusing on performance and risk within the authority. I put my name forward for the Challenge as a development opportunity in which I would gain experience from working in different authorities, with the hope of progressing my career with the knowledge acquired along the way

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge has really transformed my career in local government. Not only did the Challenge provide me with insight on how different authorities work across the country, it allowed me to work alongside the most talented local government officers, which truly progressed my professional development further.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

After winning the 2018 Local Government Challenge, I have been heavily involved with the response and recovery elements of the Novichok incidents in South Wiltshire. I have now secured a new role within my authority as a Corporate Support Manager for the South Wiltshire Economic Recovery. The journey to this role was certainly aided by the skills and experience gained whilst taking part in the Local Government Challenge. The intensity of a challenge was brought to life when dealing with an incident of significance, and I am thankful to the LGA for giving me the confidence and experience to work in a challenging and exciting environment.


Amanda Askham - 2018 - Finalist

LG Challenge - Amanda Askham

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

When I applied for the Local Government Challenge, I was Head of the Transformation Service for Cambridgeshire County Council.  Although I had been a Head of Service for a few years, this role was new and was a chance for the Council to signal its commitment to improvement and innovation.  To do that well, it is essential to be outward facing, generously collaborative, ready for challenge and open to new ideas – everything that the Local Government challenge promotes and ‘tests’!  I knew I would love meeting people from a range of roles across Local Government and wanted to see how things were done in other authorities and I believe it is important that local government leaders should continually challenge themselves and keep learning   - irrespective of age, experience and role.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

During last year’s competition, I became a Director in Cambridgeshire CC and since then have also taken on a Director role in Peterborough City Council.  Although it is notoriously difficult in Local Government to exactly match an intervention to an outcome, the experiences I gained during the Local Government Challenge certainly increased my energy, experience and confidence at just the right moment.  Seeing that there are numerous was of interpreting and delivering local government responsibilities and hearing directly from senior leaders and change makers made me more ambitious for my own Council and better able to articulate new possibilities and options.  Without doubt though, what I value most from the experience are the long lasting and strongly bonded relationship I made with both my fellow contestants and the officers we met in host councils.  This has given me a network of experienced and exciting individuals to think and work with - and I do so frequently! 

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

All of the leaders we met across all of the councils we visited stressed the need for a different relationship with the public and a new model for truly local government. Like many other Councils, ideas around local devolution, community asset building and a different style of engagement with the public had been emerging in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the challenges gave me the opportunity to put these ideas into short prototypes to be tested in different contexts. This gave me such a rich source of feedback and insight which I took back into our change programmes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Our Neighbourhood Cares and Think Communities Programmes are not only gaining national recognition as part of a new movement in Local Government but are already having a very positive impact on our local communities.

Taking part in the Local Government Challenge was one of the very best pieces of development work I have done in my career.  Without doubt it broadened my horizons and reignited my passion and ambition for Local Government. It’s an exciting, challenging, disruptive moment for public services and the Challenge helped me to embrace the opportunities this brings. 


Hannah Lucey – 2018 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Hannah Lucey

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was working as an Engagement and Consultation Delivery Officer at Kent County Council when I applied to take part in the Local Government Challenge. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the experience but hoped it would give me a greater insight and understanding of the important work of local government as well as the different issues faced within authorities up and down the country. I also wanted to meet and learn from peers, push my boundaries and try something out of my comfort zone – it certainly did not disappoint!

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge was a fantastic experience for me and was an extremely exciting and unique learning and development opportunity that I am sure will never be matched again in my career. It gave me experience into areas of local government I hadn’t previously worked in, developed my skills and built confidence in my abilities, particularly public speaking. I most valued meeting fellow contestants, host authorities and LGA colleagues, all of whom were extremely helpful, supportive and inspirational. The 2018 cohort are still in touch which means we have a brilliant network of colleagues to bounce ideas off and discuss the trials and tribulations of local government.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am now Staff Officer to the Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter who I first met as part of the Local Government Challenge process. So without a doubt, the Challenge was instrumental in accelerating my career and helping me get to where I am today and I will always be grateful for the opportunities the challenge has given me.


Ellen Care – 2018 – Finalist

LG Challenge - Ellen Care

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

When I applied for the Challenge I was part of the Transformation and Change team at the London Borough of Bexley, leading on service design. Having joined the authority as part of the NGDP, I’d been in one organisation for a number of years and was keen to get exposure to other councils and broaden my network in local government by meeting interesting people. I was also keen to see how the techniques I applied to problem solving in my day to day work would work in other settings, and test myself by pushing beyond the comfortable relationships I’d formed with people over several years, to working under pressure and establishing my credibility with new people quickly.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

A massive part of what the Challenge gave me was confidence in myself and in trying new things. Making it to the final was a huge achievement, given the calibre of my cohort of contestants, and the feedback that I got from them and the judges on my ideas and presentations has stayed with me. The Challenge gave me a lot more exposure to elected Members than I’d had up to that point which was a really important development opportunity for me. Most of all, meeting really amazing people from across the local government sector, who were passionate and committed to their work, inspired me to think about the kind of leader I’d like to be in the future, and everyone was really generous with their advice. I’m still in touch with so many people who I met as a result of the Challenge, who are invaluable as a sounding board and to kick ideas around with, whether about a project I’m working on or what to do next in my career.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I recently joined Collaborate, a not for profit organisation who help public services collaborate to tackle complex social challenges, where I work as a Consultant. Taking part in the Challenge showed me that I could do this kind of job, which is all about bringing theory, tools and approaches to a whole range of contexts, and then working amongst teams from different backgrounds to develop new thinking.


Nikki Middleton – 2018 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Nikki Middleton

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of the Local Government Challenge I was the Customer Services Manager for Luton Council. Having worked the entirety of my local government career at Luton, I was looking for the opportunity to observe and experience different ways of working to help challenge my own thinking and explore a different set of challenges and issues.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Local Government Challenge provided exposure to different ideas, organisational cultures and political perspectives. The opportunity to engage and work with senior officer and members from the host councils along with my nine brilliant fellow contestants, challenged my own thinking and assumptions. The fast paced nature of the challenges leaves little time for self-doubt and I feel the experience has made me more confident about committing to an idea more quickly. This has led me to become less hesitant and more comfortable about pursuing opportunities when they arise.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

This contributed to my decision to apply for an internal secondment to the role of Interim Service Director, for Revenues, Benefits and Customer Services.  I was successful in my application and am enjoying this new challenge.


Daniel Gooch -  2018 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Daniel Gooch

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was working as Green Spaces Officer at Swale Borough Council looking after the parks and open spaces across Swale as well as maintaining and improving the 80 play areas they own. Having worked in parks for all of my career I was keen to see if my skills set could be used across other areas of the local authority sector. I was also interested to meet colleagues from other councils across the UK and be exposed to a wide range of challenges.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the Local Government Challenge made me realise that you can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it! The Challenges were an intense experience and to know that I could rise to the challenge and to work within a team to produce a full proposal and presentation in just 24 hours was a great achievement and confidence boast. The Local Government Challenge enhanced my profile within my own council but also exposed me to other chief executives and leaders of other local authorities across the UK.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

The Local Government Challenge allowed me to develop an idea I had for improving inclusivity in play area design as part of my final project bid. It also gave me the confidence to go for what I believed in. This led to me setting up a new company, My Play Area (www.myplayarea.co.uk), and the creation of software to ensure play areas are designed with every child in mind. This will allow me assist local authority park/play teams and their communities across the UK and that more children than ever can have access to play areas that meet their needs.


Peter Sebastian – 2018 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Peter Sebastian

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was the first (and hopefully not the last!) central government civil servant to participate in the Local Government Challenge. At the time I was working at MHCLG, writing the department’s three year business plan. I wanted to use the Challenge to gain a better understanding of the way councils work and the tools they have (and don’t have) to solve the problems they face.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

It was the best professional development I’ve ever done. I absolutely loved it! I valued two things: a) the great group of people I got to work with, who I am still in touch with, and b) learning different ways to communicate. Civil servants tend to focus solely on facts, while the best council officers tell stories about their communities. 

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I now work in the Local Government team in the Treasury, advising the Chancellor and Chief Secretary on local government policy and spending decisions (MHCLG need Treasury ministers’ approval for their policies). The Local Government Challenge has given me a much deeper understanding of the consequences of these decisions. I’d love to chat to any alumni to understand how central and local government can work together more effectively.


Richard James – 2018 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Richard James

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?          

When I started the Local Government Challenge I was part of a small group of people that were leading on the authorities R&D projects with a primary focus on adult social care. I joined the challenge because I wanted to test out ideas in different areas across the UK and learn more about how different organisations operated. 

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge has proven to be pivotal in my personal development, I learned how to get better results working with strong willed, intelligent people in high pressure environments. The most important lesson I learned from my team mates is how to be heard above the noise without needing the loudest voice.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

As of now my team has grown in size and skill and we’re taking on increasingly ambitious projects at a regular rate. The Challenge showed me new ways of working with people from different disciplines to achieve more under pressure and in less time. The skills I developed from the challenge have enabled me to be part of some of the most exciting local government projects in the UK and I was fortunate enough to be a member of a fantastic cohort made up of individuals I was proud to call team mates and am now proud to call friends. Soppy, I know, but true.


Natalie Morrissey – 2018 – Contestant

LG Challenge - Natalie Morrissey

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

When I applied for the Challenge I was an Information Governance Officer at Staffordshire County Council.  I was hoping to gain a wide knowledge of how other local authorities operate, learn from experiences of peers across the country and have an excellent opportunity of ‘thinking outside the box’ pushing the usual boundaries that can restrict innovative thinking.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

I gained a lot of confidence by taking part and it extended my vision of the art of the possible.  The experience shows that leadership skills can be transferred between service areas and staff shouldn’t feel restricted.  I valued the opportunity to examine real problems and contribute to solutions that have been adopted by councils.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

During the Challenge I received a promotion to the post of Information Governance Manager.  The Local Government Challenge has helped me develop my skills and think more strategically. I would thoroughly recommend colleagues from across the public sector take part, as it’s the best development training I have attended.

2019

Rob Comber -  2019 - Winner

LG Challenge - Rob Comber

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the point of applying for the Local Government Challenge I was working at Kent County Council, in Children, Young People and Education as a Service Development Manager. I applied because I wanted the experience of working with, and learning from, other like-minded individuals across the country.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge has exposed me to different ways of thinking about and approaching similar issues we face in Kent – some of which I have taken back to Kent implemented myself.


Matthew Snelling – 2019 - Finalist

LG Challenge - Matt Snelling 2

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

At the time of taking part in the Local Government Challenge I am a Policy, Strategy and Partnerships Officer at the London Borough of Merton.

I wanted to take part in the Challenge as I wanted the opportunity to learn from other talented and creative thinkers within the sector. The opportunity to solve real life problems that can make a positive impact on the lives of people in different areas across the country. I wanted to be able to push myself and see how I would cope when being faced with new challenges 

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Taking part in the Challenge has really made me think about how I can take the positive experiences and use them both in my current role and projects, but also get involved with new pieces of work. It's made look at the way I work and approach tasks and learn the different ways in which other talented people do. I've learned a lot from taking part and how to not be phased when  being thrown lots of things at once and picking out the information that matter most.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

Still taking part in the competition I am in the same role, but have already started taking on new pieces of work and new responsibilities and want to make sure I take the experiences from the Local Government Challenge forward positively.


Hollie Stone - 2019 - Finalist

LG Challenge - Hollie Stone

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I am a Commissioning Manager in Children’s Care and Support Services at London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. When applying for the Challenge I hoped to further develop skills in communication and presenting and thinking both creatively and strategically. The Challenge process has helped me develop in these areas as well as grow as an individual.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

The Challenge forced me to be comfortable with being pushed out of my comfort zone, the process has given me the confidence to believe in my own capabilities. I have valued learning from other talented contestants and the experience of visiting local authorities around the country.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

The Challenge has helped me reflect on different ways of working and the importance of team working. Despite the competition not yet being over I have already adopted some of this learning in my work approach.


Katy Smith -  2019 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Katy Smith

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I am working as a Senior HR Business Advisor within Kent County Council. When I applied to take part in the Local Government Challenge I was hoping to gain experience that would help me not only personally, but also professionally. I was hoping to grow my confidence, particularly in presenting and take the opportunity to demonstrate (and further enhance) my leadership skills.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

My experience as a contestant in the Local Government Challenge, whilst hasn’t excelled my career yet will allow me to push myself (due to my growth in confidence). Through sharing updates with my manager throughout the experience, she has helped me to see my potential and where the opportunity could excel my career and my skills.  Additionally, through completing my proposal I was able to identify that its' important for me in my career to be able to make a difference to other people’s lives (e.g. through supporting those with autism to find employment/ work experience).

Whilst the Local Government Challenge has only just finished, I have already gained so much from the experience! I have pushed myself outside my comfort zone, grown my confidence and presentation skills and learnt an immense amount in terms of working with a range of different people to achieve a joint outcome. By working under such time pressures I have also been able to demonstrate and grow my innovation skills and have felt proud of what I have achieved within each challenge. I have also learnt huge amounts from each of the host councils and gained a wide breath of understanding of the challenges being faced by other councils.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I will let you know in a year!


Celia Prado-Teeling – 2019 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Celia Prado-Teeling

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I’m an Insight Analyst at Cherwell District Council. When I applied to participate at the Local Government Challenge I was hoping to get insights on how other local authorities do things differently, their challenges and their approach to those challenges in view to take back to Cherwell anything that could apply to us.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Even when I’m currently doing the Challenge I think it has made a difference in my career already, not just because of the new skills acquired and improved self-confidence but raising my profile within my own organisation. But what I value the most are the connections I have made, the people I have had the pleasure to meet and what I have learned of all of them.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

Hopefully I will have many positive things to say about my achievements and all the good things that being on the Local Government Challenge will bring.


Susan Grounds – 2019 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Susan Grounds

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I was new to Merton Council, as a Corporate Programmes Officer and also new to local authority, having come from 10 years within the financial services sector.

I wanted an opportunity to find out more about local government to help my wider knowledge and use the opportunity to network with people from other local authorities, and the LGA.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

Working in a real time pressure environment and having to present has helped me to think on my feet and helped with my presenting skills.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I am still in the same role at Merton so this is difficult to say although my confidence in general has improved through the Local Government Challenge.


Emily Kindred -  2019 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Emily Kindred

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

In the same week as being selected to apply for the Local Government Challenge (via an in-house application process), I had just accepted a position as Public Health Officer – A significant move from my previous role. For people who know very little about Wigan, we’re a joint commission with the Clinical Commissioning Group and as such, a very unique authority. My ambition was (and still is) to work in synergy across the care home market and wider health services. Until becoming a Public Health Officer, my capacity in a meeting room was purely administrative and I hoped the challenge would give me the confidence to provide quality input and gain pace in pushing projects through the preliminary phases. I also hoped for a ‘complacency-check’, to push me away from thinking we’re doing everything we can; to be inspired by what other authorities are doing across the country and how Wigan can always do better.  

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

I’ll have to answer this one in reverse. It has been a privilege to learn that candidates in this years’ Local Government Challenge cohort really care about residents, not just in their constituency but universally. Their values and ideas of how to make the UK a better place to live, has been unforgettable. I envisage some very caring leaders in the future of local government; and for that I will forever be in the LGA’s debt.

I am a vivacious, confident person and throughout my career, I’ve taken pride in my ability to build healthy relationships, support innovation and inject passion. Walking into this competition on a very frosty January morning in Cherwell was the most daunting step in my career, to date. Here I am, confident in all that I can do and surrounded by 9 out-of-this-world local government officers; each filled with diverse ideas and exuding self-belief. In that moment, and indeed for some time afterwards, I doubted my strengths and battled internally with self-doubt. In the next moment, you’re surrounded by like-minded colleagues all supporting you to keep pushing. Now in reflection mode, I realise that in a room where strengths are varied comes the best result. I will work on honing my confidence in the work arena, taking responsibility for tasks and having a voice; which in turn will discourage quivers of feeling inadequate.

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

It’s been a truly fantastic start (and middle) to 2019; and indeed the rest of my career.


Adam Wassell - 2019 - Contestant

Adam Wassell

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

I had just become a team leader after gaining a promotion, and I hoped that the Local Government Challenge would allow me to learn from peers (with my own relatively new eyes to local government) about the challenges I could expect to face.

What did taking part in the Challenge do for you and your career and what do you value most from the experience?

I feel I’ve been able to experience areas of the Council I am not able to do in my day-to-day, and I better understand how my own skills are transferable. I certainly have felt inspired by a lot of those Councils we have been to. However, I have most valued being able to get to know my other contestants and ultimately see the great work we have been able to collectively deliver.


Bob Allen - 2019 - Contestant

LG Challenge - Bob Allen

What are you doing now and how did the Challenge help you to get there?

I’m doing what I was doing before- but I’ve got some ideas for the future and am really keen to start pushing myself in what I do. It feels like the Local Government Challenge is only the beginning!

What were you doing at the time of your Local Government Challenge and what did you hope to gain from the experience? 

I am working as Project and Operations  Manager within Wigan Council’s Drug and Alcohol Commissioning Team. The LG Challenge presented an opportunity for me to develop essential skills that I believe I need to continue to progress in my career. The challenge offered a unique opportunity to hone skills around media and political awareness as well as leadership. The LG Challenge also offered insight into the way other authorities operate and would  allow me to discover innovative initiatives that may benefit Wigan Borough.