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Jo Boaden was able to bring years of experience into play when she took on a high-flying role advertised in LGC, sa...
Jo Boaden was able to bring years of experience into play when she took on a high-flying role advertised in LGC, says Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

What is your new job?

I am chief executive of the North East Assembly, which is the regional planning body for the north east. The

assembly is a partnership of 73 organisations from across the region with representatives from local government and economic and social partners including trade unions, business, faith communities, further education and the voluntary sector.

What are your main responsibilities?

My role is one of co-ordination and collaboration. I oversee the work of the assembly which includes producing a regional spatial strategy, scrutinising the work of the regional development agency One Northeast, ensuring integrated regional planning and housing functions and that sustainable development is at the heart of those strategies. I am responsible for just under 30 staff and have a budget of£2m.

What attracted you to the role?

I was really interested because of its co-ordination role, bringing together so many different things right across the region, and for the benefit of the region. I saw its complexity and opportunities as a real challenge.

How did your skills and past experiences prepare you?

I have a very broad based experience: local government from Glasgow to London; in the NHS; setting up brand new government initiatives; in partnerships and in regeneration. What has made the job particularly interesting is it brings together some of those threads.

What are the best - and most challenging - parts of the job?

There never is a typical day - I really enjoy that. I meet lots of people from different organisations across the region. Most challenging is trying to communicate a clear message about the value and worth of the assembly

in such a complex landscape of


After the north east referendum, getting the message clearly across to people that we still have an assembly with a specific statutory role that has purpose and adds value to the life of the region has been difficult because many people thought the referendum did away with regional assemblies. However, it's very rewarding when we make progress.

How is it going?

I don't want to claim all the credit for this, as a lot of it was already in place before I arrived, but our regional spatial strategy and the response that we have had from the public has gone really well.

I think the assembly can always communicate better and that is something I need to keep reinforcing. When I joined we had no communications resource at all. Although I sorted that out, it would have been helpful to have had someone in from the start.

What's been the most surprising thing you've experienced?

The depth of knowledge and experience I have found in colleagues. It has been quite a revelation.

What one thing would help you do your job better?

More hours in the day.

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

Be flexible. Starting off as an environmental health officer I could never have imagined that I would have been where I am now.

I've done what I have found interesting and that's where you can really harness your talent and show your worth.

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