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CAREERS - A BROADER VIEW

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Alan Madin moved from finance to a get involved in North East Lincs' wider plans, after applying for a job advertis...
Alan Madin moved from finance to a get involved in North East Lincs' wider plans, after applying for a job advertised in LGC, says Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

Alan Madin, executive director of corporate services, North East Lincolnshire Council

Advertised November 2005

Started work April 2006

Reports to Chief executive

Qualifications

Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy

Best part of the role

'The opportunity I have to engage in the council's wider plans.'

Experience

Deputy director of finance, North East Lincolnshire Council

Deputy director of corporate finance, Cumbria CC

Finance manager, Croydon LBC

Assistant financial secretary (ministry of finance), Government of Bermuda

Biggest challenge

'The extent to which the council has been under intense scrutiny by all external assessors, auditors and inspectors.'

What is your new job?

I am executive director of corporate services, North East Lincolnshire Council.

Describe your main responsibilities

My role oversees the wider finance function, which includes audits, revenues and benefits, credits and payments, procurement, IT and customer services. A head of finance and head of strategic business support report to me and my directorate has 304 staff. As part of the council's senior management team I am actively involved in the council's wider agenda.

What attracted you to the role?

I joined the council in 2004 as deputy director of finance following a public interest report which, among other things, had some fairly hard criticism about the way the council was managing its finances.

I wanted to help make a significant difference. When the opportunity came to step up to this wider role, it was a significant career opportunity as well as enabling me to take forward the financial improvements I'd been working on. I enjoy operating at a more strategic corporate level and being able to contribute to the council's performance and general improvement.

How did your experience prepare you for the task?

I've had a fairly extensive career in finance in a variety of authorities and some of those roles allowed me to work beyond the narrow finance function. The way I carried out the role as deputy director of finance sufficiently impressed the members, who thought I had the skills and abilities to take more responsibility because of the financial improvements made so far.

What does a typical day involve?

An intensive round of meetings and reporting deadlines. Because of the emphasis on improving performance across the council I am keeping abreast of ensuring the activity plans for delivering improvements are being delivered on the ground.

What's best about the job and what are the biggest challenges?

The best part is the opportunity to engage in the council's wider operations. Being able to see the wider picture is a very attractive part of the role.

The biggest challenge is the extent to which we have been under intense scrutiny by external assessors, auditors and inspectors because of previous difficulties. We spend a vast amount of our time and effort reassuring a host of people that we are moving at the right pace to improve.

What's gone well and what could have been done better?

I am pleased with the way we have demonstrated to our external auditors the significant improvements in our financial reporting. Two years ago our accounts were being qualified because of lateness and inaccuracy. But on our last financial reporting the district auditor suggested our accounts were as good as any authority she has audited in the last year.

For a long time we were not seeing improvements in the paying out of housing and council tax benefits, but in the last six months we have managed to halve the time we take to process and pay claims.

What advice might you have for others looking for a similar role?

Look beyond the immediate focus of the job to see how you can make a contribution corporately. Think: 'What can I do to contribute to the organisation's wider ambitions?'

How will your type of role develop in the future?

Making shared services work is a challenge. Increasingly, councils and other organisations are coming together to provide back-office facilities on a collaborative basis.

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