- Programme: Human Resources Strategy for Transforming Organisations
- Nationality: British
- Job Post-programme: Directorate Head Of Hr, Essex County Council
Samantha completed London Business School’s HRST programme in May 2012. Currently leading a major people change project for Essex County Council, she is using her new knowledge to help transform the organisation.
Essex County Council (ECC) has recently embarked on the second phase of a major period of transformation. We have a real ambition to change the Council into an outcomes led commissioning organisation. But the local government sector is facing unprecedented austerity, coupled with an increasing demand on key services. Our challenge is to assess the needs of residents in the communities we serve and to consider how we can meet those needs in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
HR is playing a leading role in this transformation, so it is critical that members of the leadership team receive appropriate development to drive the changes forward. I came to local government from the private sector and I have not taken the traditional route through my HR career. I have good commercial experience but I’m not a qualified HR practitioner. Human Resources Strategy for Transforming Organisations (HRST) was recommended by a colleague, and was the perfect opportunity to supplement the experience I already had with more academic learning.
Authentic and Honest Leadership
Much of HRST was directly applicable to my role. Authentic and honest leadership is critical within any sector, but given the challenges we are facing, never more so than in the public sector today. ECC has a track record of innovation within Local Government – recent examples include our work on community budgets, troubled and complex families and the social innovation fund – and Dan Cable’s topic ‘strange change’ gave me different ways to approach new and innovative practices. I’m also a maths graduate, so Lynda Gratton’s emphasis on HR’s use of analytical data naturally plays to my strengths.
Incorporating this into my role has helped me consider how best to articulate the return on investment for HR initiatives. One of the first things I did when I got back to the office was to lead a cross-organisation working group, sharing my recent academic learning to develop a business case supporting the people elements of our next phase of transformation.
Serving Our Communities
Our aim at the council is to improve the communities we serve, whether it is by protecting vulnerable people or by helping everyone become the best they can be through learning. We have different priorities to big business in the private sector, but we still need to execute sound commercial decision making in relation to our services. HRST helped me identify my personal drivers, people change and the use of data and analytics within HR. It also cemented my passion and desire to support ECC to find the very best way to deliver our services – evaluating and meeting the needs of our local residents, whilst challenging the status quo through innovation and creativity.