Local Government Challenge 2020: Meet the contestants

In November 2019, 10 contestants were selected to take part in LG Challenge 2020. Beginning the challenge in February, contestants took on 5 challenges across various authorities across the country, taking on their biggest leadership development opportunity yet. Read the 2020 contestants’ biographies below to find out more about their background in Local Government and what motivated them to apply for LG Challenge.


Stephen Bahooshy, London Borough of Southwark Council 
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I am a Strategic Programmes Manager for Southwark Council working across the commissioning division in adults, children and education. Having started in February 2020, I am still getting to know my new role. I enjoy working with the people we serve, in addition to the third and voluntary sector in order to produce the best possible outcomes for our residents. For example, in my previous role in Croydon I coproduced the joint Carers Strategy in Croydon with carers, voluntary sector, local authority and NHS. To do this, I designed a series of workshops with carers, professionals and interested stakeholders. Once written, I then took the strategy back to the communities that had input, therefore ensuring the coproduction was meaningful and allowing me to ensure the strategy was fit for purpose. This was then approved by Council Cabinet and now forms the vision for carers support in Croydon. I even had positive feedback from Carers UK on the production of the strategy.

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
I applied to be part of the 2020 LG Challenge as I thought it would be a great way to meet interesting people. I believe the range of challenges will be a great way to enhance my learning and development to become a senior leader in the public sector. I enjoy learning and experiencing new activities and working with different people from different divisions. I know that the challenge will be enjoyable (and possibly stressful at times), and I want to push myself into new situations to hone my skills. Dealing with other areas of local government will be beneficial for my overall understanding of the sector, leadership, management and teamwork.

Hani Cox, Cumbria County Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I have been working as Partnership Development Officer at the Cumbria Strategic Waste Partnership since August 2020. My role includes project managing the emerging national policy and guidance, implications from Covid-19 on the waste industry and driving forward strategic options to realise longer-term aspirations for the county. This builds on my extensive experience in working across organisational boundaries and siloed working to deliver for people and places. I am passionate about the role that partnerships have in harnessing the various complementary positions and perspectives that each authority holds. I also have significant experience in working in a politically sensitive environment, particularly in policy and strategy roles, which requires a good understanding of strategic priorities and local decision-making. Previously, I have supported significant corporate projects such as the Council’s hosting of the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge 2019, and a LG Challenge in 2018!

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
The LG Challenge would enable me to grasp a personal ambition to promote Cumbria, and showcase its successes and sharing its challenges on the national stage. The Challenge would also enable me to share best practice and learning with the Council and wider Cumbria public sector landscape to drive change. A personal ambition to move at pace in consolidating transformative leadership potential, the LG Challenge is an excellent opportunity to establish valuable contacts, develop innovative proposals and solutions to strategic problems, and test my personal drive for results for people and places.

Hannah Futter, Surrey County Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I am currently Business Manager to the Leader of the Council. I work closely with the Cabinet and Corporate Leadership Team to manage the work programme of the Cabinet and ensure that the key strategic priorities and programmes are coordinated and aligned. A key part of my role is to enable effective decision making for the Council and supporting the Leader in his role. This involves being one step ahead on emerging issues and also horizon scanning at a local and national level.

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
Through my role in the Leadership Office, I have been in a unique position where I have coordinated and observed problem solving on some of the most challenging strategic issues that the local authority faces. What I hope to get out of being an LG Challenge contestant is a chance to lead on problem-solving myself. I’m looking forward to pushing forward my own ideas and navigate the political complexity that comes with that.

Zoe Galvin, Kent County Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I started my local government career in October 2017 when I joined Kent County Council’s graduate programme. I worked on various change projects during this programme including the implementation of GDPR across the authority, a select committee focused on Pupil Premium, and a series of rural transport initiatives. After working on projects within Adult Social Care and Health for the last I’m now working on the Community Services project which has been identified as one of Kent County Council’s priority projects within its Strategic Reset Programme. Its focus is to understand and plan how specific services are delivered to Kent’s diverse communities and what future provision might look like across the County with a focus on sustainably meeting the needs of our residents and service users. This role enables me to work collaboratively across the council and I’m looking forward to a fresh challenge to utilise my project management skills and respond to evolving user needs.

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
I love any opportunity to experience something a bit different, so I jumped at the chance to participate in this incredible range of challenges. I’m excited to visit new places and work with new people, growing my understanding of local government and developing my leadership capability. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m ready to step out of my comfort zone to build resilience in myself, my teammates and the sector as a whole. I expect to finish the challenges teeming with ideas and insights about how we can come together to deliver fantastic value for our residents.

Rose Hampton, Staffordshire County Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I am a Communications Officer at Staffordshire County Council. I work on both internal change communications and external marketing campaigns. My role involves informing the public of schemes they can apply for and benefit from, as well as informing internal staff of transformational changes taking place within the organisation. This position requires me to be dynamic and adaptable as the projects I work on are often complex, with a range of moving parts and multiple stakeholders. This role requires me to move comfortably between big picture objectives and small tasks required to achieve successful communication. I am a people focused individual and really enjoy that my role enables me to work with lots of partner organisations to achieve organisational objectives. I feel incredibly proud to work for Staffordshire County Council and I would love to encourage more young people to apply for roles within local government. It is an incredibly challenging and rewarding career and a very exciting time to be working in such an organisation. 

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
I applied for the LG Challenge to expand my horizons and to gain a greater exposure to the challenges faced by local authorities on a national scale. I was also drawn to the incredibly exciting opportunity to work in a team environment with like-minded people from across the country that all have different backgrounds and experiences. I am looking forward to learning a lot from the challenges and the other participants.

Jack Kennedy, Surrey County Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I started the LG Challenge as Economic Development Manager at Basingstoke and Deane Basingstoke Council but have since moved on to be Head of Economy and Growth at Surrey County Council. My new role has a key focus on developing high level skills interventions for key sectors of the Surrey economy as well as supporting wider economic interventions the Council is involved in such as inward investment, account management of critical institutions and businesses and driving forward innovation and growth. As with my previous roles in both local and central government, I love the variety of the role and the opportunities it presents to work across public and private sector boundaries and ultimately working towards making Surrey a better place to work, live and play.

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
There are loads of reasons why I originally applied for the Local Government Challenge! But to focus on a few, the chance to work with, and test myself against, some of the best local government officers in the country still really excites me. I am always keen to learn about how others approach problems and issues, particularly ones that are outside of the scope of my day job. As someone who is passionate about developing my skills, I hope I can bring back a new skillset that will be of benefit to the businesses and residents of Surrey. I am really looking forward to getting started (again)!

Joe Kinsella, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I work for the Yorkshire Urban and Rural Social Work Teaching Partnership; as Project Manager for the partnership, I am responsible for driving activity forward ensuring we are delivering our strategic objectives against the criteria set by the Department of Education. 

As the partnership is made up of two Universities and four local authorities, a primary aspect of my job is working with people collaboratively, ensuring that we are all pulling in the right direction, despite the differences individual agencies may have in terms of their priorities. This is the part of the job I enjoy the most, working with others to make a real and lasting positive impact on the education, training and delivery of social work practice which therefore improves the experience for the people who we provide social work services to…. as really that is what it is all about!

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
I wanted to challenge myself in a way that I have not been challenged before. The opportunity to collaborate with fellow contestants from across the country and gain understanding from their perspectives and lived experiences, is one I wanted to seize. The learning and development I will gain from this experience, both personally and professionally, will be invaluable. I am of course relishing this challenge. I’m ready to put my skills to the test. I am proud to be representing Calderdale in the LG Challenge. Let’s see what 2020 has in store - I’m sure it’ll be an exciting journey! 

Felicity Lynch, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I am currently a Watch Manager working for Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service part of Cumbria County Council. In addition to attending front line operational incidents, I work within the People, Development and Assurance department managing the transition to a new competency management system and ensuring compliance with National Operational Guidance. This new system will simplify the input required from personnel whilst also achieving a greater depth of information for reporting. I also work as part of the XVR team. XVR is a virtual reality system that is used to train and assess Service Managers in Incident Command at all levels. XVR provides a real time immersion simulation giving Managers the best possible preparation for future incidents.

Operationally I respond to Road Traffic Collision, Swift Water Rescue, Working at Height, Hazardous Materials and Fires, as well as partaking in Community Fire Safety activities.

What motivated you to apply for LG Challenge?
I applied to take part in the Local Government Challenge because I believe it will present situations that both challenge my intelligence and problem solving skills. I am looking forward to meeting people from various backgrounds and walks of life. The opportunity to experience different Councils and Authorities around the country is interesting and exciting. I hope to learn from their best practices and explore solutions to the questions that they face. I constantly want to push myself in order to better prepare for my future career path. 

Lewis Sheldrake, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
Following five years of service in the Armed Forces including operational deployments, I began my career in Local Government in 2010. My current role as Lead Commissioner – Innovation and Personalisation, is to support the Council and its partners to deliver the aspiration for a health and care system that enables people to make healthier choices, to be more resilient, to deal more effectively with illness and disability when it arises, and to have happier, longer lives in old age. I play a central role in making the most effective use of the available resources by commissioning quality services to meet the needs of the local population. I have recently led a substantial innovation programme which has demonstrated the critical role that technology can play in improving outcomes by enabling people to meaningfully direct their own care. This has been achieved through an integrated service delivery model which has enabled investment in preventative initiatives to provide effective demand management and the realisation of significant financial benefits.

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
I believe that I have the right motivation, attitude, and skills to bring to the LG Challenge and by extension to benefit from it. I am highly conscientious in my approach to my work and strive to get to the ‘heart’ of an issue where interventions can be most effectively focused. The LG Challenge presents the unique opportunity to work with colleagues from across the country in a structured programme that will test and develop my competencies further. I am confident that taking part will enable me to affect positive change, inspire others and deliver improved outcomes in Local Government.

Emma Shepherd, London Borough of Croydon Council
LG Challenge Contestant

What is your current role?
I am the Disability Strategy Lead for Employment. My role is to support disabled staff, HR and managers in an advisory capacity and to support the Council through their Disability Confident journey. I am a Mental Health First Aider Instructor and Vice Chair of the Staff Disability Network. Furthermore I support businesses and our contractors in Croydon to become Disability Confident. I review their policies, design action plans for them and deliver training on Supported Employment. I bring this together by chairing the Disability Confident Action Group, which I set up in 2015 with disabled people, the Council, DWP, Councillors, local employers, support services and training providers to deliver various innovative ideas, to highlight awareness and to ensure disabled residents are employed with good local employers. To share the group’s vision, I present across the country to interested organisations. In 2018, I was awarded an Innovation Award for this work.

What motivated you to apply for the challenge?
I applied for the Challenge for a few reasons – firstly because I believe in the work that I do for the Council and see all the good things the Council does in the Borough, for which I am very proud. Secondly, this would be a great opportunity to develop me, as an Officer to learn from amazing people. It is a wonderful opportunity to work on challenges around the Country; see what other Council’s do and make a real difference through the challenges. Finally I have a great idea that I want to deliver in Croydon and need £10,000 to make it happen. I therefore have to push myself over all my comfort barriers in order to win.