Peer into the Future Alumni 2

A little bit of Penna insight and thinking.


16 Aug 2016

Event, Knowledge, HR

Peer into the Future Alumni 2

This eagerly anticipated event, hosted at the iconic BT Centre in Central London, attracted HR and OD leaders in local government from across the country. The event was a great success, with four excellent speakers talking around a very diverse range of topics.

Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, opened proceedings with the role of the third sector in public sector change. He highlighted some of the key strategic partnerships Barnardos have already embarked upon with local authorities, such as Norfolk County Council, in order to improve outcomes for looked after children and care leavers. Javed stressed that strategic partnerships like this are a far smarter, cost-effective way of tackling the chronic problems in Children’s Social Care compared with the current bidding process; particularly in the current times of austerity. Partners have already begun to benefit from Barnardo’s national knowledge and resources and the shared, mutually beneficial approach can only be a good thing going forward in uncertain times.

Andy Donald, Chief Executive at London Borough of Redbridge, then spoke openly about his experience of becoming a Chief Executive for the first time last year, and more specifically the role that the HR and OD team have in terms of driving culture change in an organisation. Andy emphasised the importance of an incoming Chief Executive gaining a thorough understanding of the organisation and the key players early on, and the vital role that HR Directors play in this process. His openness and willingness to engage with staff of all levels at Redbridge has been well-received and is beginning to foster a new culture at the organisation. Andy closed with some clear advice for senior managers; the only constant will be change and we must stay adaptable, whilst also staying grounded in the community and not losing sight of our purpose for being.

After some valuable networking over lunch, Dawn Brodrick, Executive Director of Workforce Development at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, then spoke about the key challenges she is dealing with and envisages in the near future, from a HR and OD perspective. The critical problem for her is resourcing, caused in part by both external and in-house competition. Dawn also spoke about the transformation programme she is currently implementing at Kings, and the unique challenges presented by doing so at such a diverse organisation based at 5 sites across South-East London. Dawn strongly advocated a more joined up approach both within the healthcare sector itself and with social care in order to maximise the impact of decreasing resources.  

The final speakers were the double act of Matt Prosser, Chief Executive Dorset Councils Partnership and David Macintosh, Chief Executive Christchurch & East Dorset Councils. Matt and David spoke passionately about the journeys to date of the Dorset Councils Partnership and the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership. Significant savings have been made in both cases, but with the cumulative funding gaps only increasing, there is still much more to do. Both speakers were adamant that the best way forward was to create a combined authority with two unitaries in Dorset, despite the potential threat to their roles such a move would create. Ultimately, this touches on the key, underlying message of their presentation that there needs to be a shift towards systems leadership in the public sector. In the words of Matt and David themselves ‘There is a need now for all leaders to shift their centre of gravity from loyalty to their organisation to loyalty to the citizen and wider population.’ It is this shift that will ensure local government and its ultimate purpose, not only survives, but thrives.

The day was a great success and, for those that could make it, we hope it facilitated some thoughtful debate and that you are able to take away some practical learnings that can directly benefit your organisations. Don’t miss out on the next Alumni event on Tuesday 6th December.

For further information on the event and the programme please email