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The Trajectory: Helen Lynch, Durham CC

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LGC’s quickfire quiz hears from newly appointed chief executives and senior officers on their highs, lows, challenges faced and lessons learned 


Name: Helen Lynch

Move: From legal services manager and acting monitoring officer at Coventry City Council to head of legal and democratic services Durham CC in August 2017

First job in local government: Legal officer with Hull City Council in 2004

Prior experience: My job with Hull was my first job after finishing law school. Prior to that I did a variety of temporary legal secretarial/assistant roles in the public and private sectors.

Education: I have a degree in Law with German and completed the Legal Practice Course prior to my training contract with Oxford City Council. I subsequently qualified as a Higher Court Advocate (Criminal) and completed a leadership & management qualification.

Proudest career achievement: Being awarded Legal Team of the Year 2017 by Birmingham Law Society shortly after completing a major restructure of Coventry’s legal service, which focused on developing the in-house team and reducing the reliance on external legal advisors. 

Toughest career experience: I am not sure I have experienced it yet! I tend to tackle difficult issues head on and focus on the sense of satisfaction I’ll have once they are resolved.

Best thing about working in local government: The variety of the work, the personal development opportunities and the people.

What I wish I’d known when I started out: It is ok not to immediately know the answer to a question.

Work/life balance: Be strict about leaving work at the office. Things often seem so much easier after a break or a good night’s sleep.

Advice to tomorrow’s chiefs and senior officers: Invest in and develop the team around you. You can’t do the job without them and watching them succeed is a real pleasure. 

Any other business: I love to travel and being outdoors, particularly if I can combine the two. I have been lucky to travel around Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, China and Thailand. I have also had shorter trips to the Middle East and South Africa. Next on my list is Canada. 

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