WMCA looks for new director of inclusive growth and public sector reform

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has just launched its search for a new director of inclusive growth and public sector reform and the organisation’s chief executive, Deborah Cadman, is exuberant.

‘I think the title of this article should be for zero to hero,’ she tells The MJ, quoting a colleague who has watched the ‘absolutely phenomenal’ rise of the WMCA. It may not have been the first combined authority at the devolution table, but it has made astounding progress since it began and Ms Cadman does not intend to let it slow down anytime soon.

‘You can’t underestimate the power of having a very visible mayor,’ she says of Andy Street, the former managing director of John Lewis turned Conservative West Midlands Mayor. ‘We have been able to attract some phenomenal people, a team of expert and committed individuals who are determined to drive inclusive growth across the region.’

This is a role at the very heart of the West Midlands and the inclusive growth agenda, creating jobs, prosperity and unlocking the potential of the region.

Working in the combined authority is a unique opportunity to promote the West Midlands at a local, regional, national and even international level – and it comes as the region is on the cusp of welcoming the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and as Coventry takes the title of City of Culture in 2021.

‘Both events will bring a fantastic dynamic to the region which will have lasting impact. The Commonwealth Games is not just for 11 days, it is for 11 generations,’ Ms Cadman says, alluding to the potential to harness the event to revitalise the place.

‘You can’t have strong economies without strong communities, but if we can’t demonstrate to our communities that the growth is for them, we will have failed.’

The West Midlands is the second largest regional economy in the country outside London and it lies at the heart of the UK. It has a strong regional identity and extraordinary connectivity that offers unrivalled potential to the place.

‘All the building blocks for growth are there,’ Ms Cadman says. The West Midlands is the UK home to some of the key growth sectors that were identified in the industrial strategy – and in some instances, they are global leaders.

‘We are building a sustained renaissance of the economy that will weather the storm of Brexit and beyond,’ Ms Cadman states.  ‘I argue passionately with investors why they should come to the region.’

She continues: ‘Whoever joins us will be joining a team of amazing people. We are looking for someone who is visionary and strategic.’

They will be working across the three core strands of the combined authority: a radical prevention agenda, working to prevent social problems blocking the potential of local people; inclusive growth, transforming the life chances of residents; and systems collaboration, pulling together public services and civil society in the West Midlands.

The successful candidate will need to work to support and enable others across the public and private sectors, working closely with local government partners.

‘Some of the stuff we will be doing will not have been done before. We need someone who has tangible experience of being in the vanguard of development. Someone who knows what an inclusive economy looks like and who knows what delivery of public services across the piece looks like.

‘I want somebody who is able to lead across boundaries – physical and organisation boundaries – and across all levels of government.’

The new director will need to work at a local level to engage with the seven constituent authorities, at a regional level with West Midlands partners and at a national level engaging with central government.

Ms Cadman tells The MJ: ‘This is a phenomenal opportunity. It’s a job I would have loved to have earlier in my career. It’s around providing clear systems leadership. It’s about designing an economy and providing inclusive growth. It’s about tackling mental health, wellbeing and climate change.

‘It’s going to be a big challenge but it is going to be a brilliant job. With the engagement it’s got across the seven mets and central government, it is a chance to reshape public services in the West Midlands and it is a stepping stone to becoming a chief executive.’


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