I was a strategic manager at Assistant Director level within Dudley MBC from 2005 – 2013 responsible for managing the Libraries, Archives and Adult Learning Division within the Directorate of Adult and Community Services.
While in this role I developed and implemented the strategic direction for the division and contributing to the development of the directorate as a whole. I wrote the Post 19 Learning and Skills and the Cultural Strategies for the borough and was an active locally, regionally and nationally bodies raising the profile of the division and the council.
I developed, advocated and led on a major modernisation programme for the library service which ensured that it met the needs of customers, stakeholders, staff and politicians while managing within ever tightening budgets. This included developing and implementing proposals for:
- service transformation,
- improved service delivery and
- increased community engagement.
The outcome of the modernisation programme was a major remodelling of the service which included:
- an overall extension of opening hours,
- the transfer of services from non viable sites into new models of delivery,
- the modernisation of every library in the borough,
- the introduction of new technology including Radio Frequency Identification and public access wifi.
- the introduction of new ways of working that have enabled the service to absorb budget savings to date while still maintaining the improved services and innovation.
The challenges I have faced have been:
- getting political approval to make difficult decisions including closing libraries which needed to close, transferring services to other locations, to enable the library service as a whole to develop
- working effectively with politicians to support radical change and to help them understand the value and impact of the services I managed. This was made harder by the fact that this was done in a borough with elections held in 3 out of 4 years
- working effectively with the chief executive, directors and other assistant directors to ensure that they understood the impact and effectiveness of my division and to get their support for the change process and the service as a whole
- dealing with a consultation process when the results could only affect some of the decisions
- moving a staff group who had not had any major change happen to them through a major change process and helping them to understand that there will never be long periods of calm with no change again
- ensuring that the division is effectively embedded in the work of the council, and that it operates through effective partnerships and collaborations
- managing to balance budgets and achieve budget savings when the services I ran were already in the lower quartile of controllable costs
- moving into a new directorate 2 months after the rest of the directorate came together and developing an understanding of the different cultures and then helping my division to understand
In addition to the above I also got political support, and capital finance of £6m, for a new Archive and Local History building because the current building is no longer fit for purpose and full. This building is due to open in the autumn of 2013.