Clive Wright, Director, Walsall Borough Strategic Partnership
Started work February 2006
Reports to partnership board and executive director for regeneration, Walsall MBC
Masters in organisation development
Assistant chief executive, Acorns Hospice
Executive director, Groundwork
Operations director, Jubilee Arts
Exec manager, Bulston Community College
Best part of the role
'Bringing common sense to situations, and bringing people together who haven't spoken before about something they are all aspiring to do. The energy that creates, and the difference it makes, is incredible.'
'Drawing the partners together (when they are very busy in their day jobs), to be challenged to do things in a different way.'
When Clive Wright began his career as a plumber, he had no idea it would lead to co-ordinating a large partnership for the regeneration of Walsall. But after teaching plumbing at a community college, a stint in Montserrat as part of a project to rebuild its schools following a hurricane sparked a real interest in community regeneration.
After rising to executive director at Bulston Community College, Mr Wright became operations director at Jubilee Arts on a three-year secondment, working on a major project to enhance community arts. He then
became executive director of Groundwork, an environmental regeneration organisation, before joining Acorn Children's Hospice as assistant chief executive. He joined Walsall Borough Strategic Partnership in February.
'The job I do now brings together an understanding of capital development and the role that can play in regeneration along with the importance of connecting people to the process, so they feel informed and part of all the benefits of that physical regeneration,' says Mr Wright.
He adds: 'I was attracted to Walsall because of the level of regeneration that is going on through the urban regeneration company. There are some really exciting proposals that will change the face of the town centre, and put Walsall on the map by linking us to the M6.'
Mr Wright is responsible for co-ordinating the work of the strategic partnership, working with its partners in the public, private and voluntary/community sectors. He says: 'I try to ensure the partnership reaches into the voluntary and community groups so we join up the communities' voices with the major initiatives that are taking place.'
You could describe Mr Wright as a fixer, as his role is mainly concerned with bringing people and activities together. He says: 'I spend a lot of time talking to people to get agreement about things, bringing people together and then co-ordinating activity that facilitates partnership working.'
Routine activity involves getting buy-in from all partners in the delivery of targets, particularly in relation to the local area agreement (LAA); ironing out difficulties in the partnership and making sure partners, particularly in the voluntary and community sector, are not sidelined.
He says: 'I enjoy bringing common sense to situations, and bringing people together who haven't spoken before about something they are all aspiring to do.'
He adds: 'A lot of what is being said in government is true. We need to find new ways of delivering these new
challenges and not necessarily keep applying the old solutions that are too expensive and don't make enough of the synergy of working together.'
To illustrate this point, he uses an example of an LAA target for school travel plans. He says: 'Our target is to get 45% involved, because where schools have staff travel plans [currently 11%] it reduces road accidents.
'We also know that 80% of cars on the road at peak travel time are doing the school run. Kids who go to school in cars are less conscious of road safety and more vulnerable to accidents and walking to school impacts on obesity targets. A simple target illustrates the difference you can make by working together.'
To lead a strategic partnership as Mr Wright's career illustrates, there is no set career route, but experience of working in a combination of sectors is an advantage. Skills and experience include partnership working and liaising with groups and organisations at all levels; a reasonable amount of analytical skills; ability to use data intelligently; and the ability to communicate plans confidently and easily.