“I’ve learned so much working as an IMPOWER consultant: new specialist areas, how different councils operate and new skills.”
A typical day for me involves waking up around 7am, eating breakfast at my Airbnb and then taking a short walk to the offices of whichever council I am working in. I usually spend Monday to Thursday away from home, co-located with a local government client on their office site. This means that I can much better understand the complex issues that we are trying to solve, and it means that staff in the council can talk to us about our work. My mornings might be spent working with senior managers to help them think through their vision of what they want to achieve and how we’re going to do it, or I could be working with programme managers to develop primed metrics so that the progress of projects can be measured effectively.
In the afternoon, I might be supporting the council staff (who have been seconded to the transformation programme) on a project testing the effectiveness of using new technology in delivering Adult Social Care. Or I could be planning a workshop or training I’ll be delivering in the coming days.
In the evening, I’ll go to dinner with the project team or to the local gym or find a new yoga class. It’s always fun to explore new cities. I’m not going to lie – life on the road can be tough, especially when there are unforeseen circumstances like train delays on a Monday morning (or leaving my laptop on a train!) or missing a friend’s birthday drinks on a Wednesday night. However, train travel does provide the opportunity for focused work away from the office, and few things beat staring out of the window at the English countryside.
I really enjoy the variety of my job, including the different types of projects I get to work on. These range from transport for children with special educational needs and disability, to testing new technology in adult social care, to working to improve the interface between health and social care services. I also really enjoy working with a variety of people. Every new project means I’m usually working with different colleagues at IMPOWER and with new clients, which provides great opportunities to learn from other people’s experience and expertise.
Working at IMPOWER: I joined IMPOWER in December 2017; before becoming a consultant, I worked in a variety of roles at Barnet Council. I’ve learned so much working as an IMPOWER consultant: new specialist areas, how different councils operate and new skills – including our structured approaches and methodologies for applying demand management and behaviour change. Through internal training sessions at IMPOWER I’ve also learned: how to handle resistance to change; collecting, analysing and presenting data effectively; and how to use agile project management.
The culture at IMPOWER is supportive, encouraging and full of knowledge sharing – people want to learn and want to share what they know. In fact, the ability to collaborate is one of the most important skills when working with local public services. Understanding where clients are, getting alongside them and forming an effective partnership is key to success. We often arrive in councils with a specific brief and outcome to achieve within a short period of time so effective time management and working at pace is crucial. Resilience is another important skill, not to be undervalued. We work in very complex environments delivering tough changes – it can sometimes feel like a long journey. Keeping the outcome in mind and having supportive colleagues means it’s all worth it in the end.