Solace Blog

Reflections on Solace Presidency

By Jo Miller, Solace President and Chief Eexecutive at Doncaster Council

Looking back at the past year-and-a-half, all I can think is “Blimey”. And I say that not about me as President but about all of us as leaders of a sector that, in the face of conditions that would have had most FTSE100 executives running for cover, has stood firm to provide an anchor for our communities. Our jobs have gotten harder as have the lives of far too many people we serve – but I still hear from so many of you what an absolute privilege it is to do what we do. 

We know that what we do in our communities makes a difference.  Sometimes it can be harder to see that what we do together as a membership body also makes a difference. In the world of public policy, what we offer is unique amongst all the local government bodies because we not only shape policy with a direct understanding of delivery, we understand how all the pieces fit together.  That is why officials often turn to us when they know they need solid advice about how to make something work and listen to us when we advise them that something won’t.  

I’m really proud of our achievements as Solace this year. We have changed our membership structure so that we have an offer for all leaders at every stage of their careers.  We worked successfully with the LGA and ADCS to get DfE’s backing for a new sector-led improvement programme for children’s services, which even just two years ago felt unthinkable.  We have enhanced our leadership development offer by creating a new programme for serving chief executives, Ignite, as well as worked with INLOGOV to pioneer the first Level 7 Executive Apprenticeship in Public Management and Leadership. 

I’m now into my final six months as President. I won’t do my valedictory speech just yet but I do want to say that it has been an absolute privilege to work with you in this role, to hear your stories and amplify your voice on the national stage.

I’ve said before that reaching outside of your immediate organisation, region or profession is hugely valuable; not merely to learn what others are doing but also to influence future direction both in Whitehall and across the sector. So I would really encourage you to think about the roles that have now opened up for nomination. 

There are a range of leading roles open including our policy spokesperson positions, as well as for non-executive members of the Solace Group and Solace in Business Boards.  If you’d like to know more about what the roles entail, I know that Graeme and the team at Solace would be pleased to chat.  Nominations close on September 10th.

I’ll finish just by wishing you a good summer.  I hope you get to spend some time with the people you love and doing the things that you love. There’s another challenging year ahead of us and it’s so important that we take the time to look after ourselves and recharge our batteries.  I look forward to seeing you at the next Solace Summit in Brighton this October!