Maria at Gloucestershire County Council

Maria Arthurs-Hartnett at Gloucestershire County Council

Name: Maria Arthurs-Hartnett

Working at: Gloucestershire County Council

Studied: Philosophy and Politics

Motivations for applying?
I had three main motivations for applying to the scheme: I was looking for a role which provided good development opportunities and routes for progression; an avenue to make a positive difference to society; and allowed me to live somewhere other than London or the South East.

Be proactive and get your name out there. I hate networking and ‘cold-emailing’ people, I don’t think comprehensive schools generally train you for that. However, in a large organisation like the council, your exposure to senior managers is invaluable. The scheme helps a lot as you’re assigned a mentor and you move departments so get to know a lot of interesting people. Also, set up or take an active role in a staff network. This is a great way to meet people from all over the organisation and will allow you to develop different skills.

All local authorities are different so find out what makes the council you want to work at unique. This covers the basics like their local population, challenges, and opportunities but also figure out what excites you about their work and what they’re trying to achieve.

How have you changed?
I have much more confidence in my ability to be a leader in a professional setting. I started the year with a bit of imposter syndrome but I have gradually learned to trust my instincts, to challenge colleagues and even managers when necessary, and to allow myself to make mistakes and learn from others.

Favourite projects?
One of my favourite areas of work has been holding the role of Gloucestershire Anti-Slavery Partnership Coordinator. As well as organising the meetings or the Partnership and setting the agendas, I have considerable leeway to determine the direction of the Partnership and develop my own initiatives to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in Gloucestershire. This has involved organising a public event for National Anti-Slavery Day, writing an eLearning module, organising training for frontline workers, and developing commissioning guidance to eliminate slavery from our supply chains.

Another great one was project managing and writing the council’s application to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. Through my role in the LGBT+ staff network, we took a business case to a Director that the council should apply to the Index and then I wrote myself a placement which constituted project managing the application. The placement also involved coming up with and implementing initiatives to improve LGBT+ equality in the council and thus improving our position on the Index.

What about your development?
We’ll see where next year takes me but I’m very optimistic and excited for what it will bring.