Working on the NGDP provides a first-class insight into managing the relationship between communities, elected Members and senior management. I struggle to think of any other graduate role that could offer this complex, yet rewarding challenge.
My experience so far has been slightly different to most of my peers as I work for two authorities in Surrey and split my week between both – Mole Valley and Reigate & Banstead. Consequently, I have already had four placements after one year:
- Strategic Leadership (delivering long service and customer service awards, developing a local cycling strategy with elected Members, promotion of the employee volunteering scheme)
- Parks (leading on projects around the provision of a café and hydroelectric generator)
- Corporate Policy (developing a borough profile and forming the new Corporate Plan)
- Leisure (report writing, service reviews, work on WWI commemoration)
I've most enjoyed working in Corporate Policy. As someone who was originally interested in frontline work, this is something I never thought I would say! The main focus of this was to update the council's Borough Profile which appraised a range of indicators about the borough using various datasets. The information generated from this was one of the streams which will help to inform our next Corporate Plan. It was really satisfying to be able to see the document through from beginning-to-end, as well as be involved in discussions with senior management on the direction of the Corporate Plan and, therefore, the organisation within the next 5 years.
One of the most rewarding parts of the NGDP is the fact that from day one we have access to a nationwide network of peers i.e. the other successful applicants! Not only is it great to be able to make friends who understand your day-to-day challenges but they are a great source for knowledge sharing in your placements. They're also a network that your council colleagues would kill to have. The induction and learning modules held in Warwick are an invaluable opportunity to develop this network. It helps that the food there isn't half bad either!
The learning and development package that the Programme offers has really helped me look at issues and projects in a more strategic manner. Thinking strategically and seeing the bigger picture is so important for the future leaders of local government: in light of unprecedented financial challenges, councils cannot restrict themselves to thinking solely about the ‘now'. This learning & development support has extended beyond the programme itself and into my host councils. They continue to be extremely supportive and helpful and I truly feel like they have my best interests and personal development at heart.