When did you first join the council?
I joined as a newly qualified Occupational Therapist in 2004 – this was a complete change of career for me, but a number of my family were social workers, so I knew what I was getting myself into! I wanted a more practical, rewarding job, where I could make a positive contribution.
And you’re now a team manager
Yes, I’ve progressed through the ranks from senior to my current role managing a team of just under 50 staff. The training on offer is fantastic, but more than that, I’ve found that there’s a genuine interest in individuals, helping us to identify what direction we want to take our careers in and offering the training, support and guidance to help realise those ambitions.
For me the switch from hands-on casework to a more management focused role was a big change, but I attended management training to help me with the transition, which I found a real eye-opener, learning about myself; my motivations, strengths and areas to work on. Today, I get that same buzz I got when I was an OT seeing my team achieve results with the people they work with and watching them grow in confidence and develop skills and experience.
How would you describe the culture at South Gloucestershire?
There’s a strong focus on service-users and when I’m recruiting I look for a passion for the job and achieving the best for people.
I think it is a very open culture with no shut doors. Everyone has opportunities to air their views, whether that be with myself and colleagues at team meetings or to Anne, our Director for Adult Services and Housing who regularly hosts drop-ins to listen to staff’s concerns and priorities.
It’s also a very positive and friendly atmosphere where new people are welcomed. We’ve a good range of expertise across the department and as managers we focus hard on building a supportive environment. We use shadowing extensively to help share this expertise and what’s reassuring for me in my role is that if I’m not around, I know there’s plenty of people both within the team and across the service who will make themselves available to provide support.
Finally, it’s a really pleasant environment to work in. I cycle in to work most days and there’s great facilities for that, including pool cars for visits. And the flexi-time scheme means I don’t have to make ‘special allowances’ for people wanting to start later to allow them to drop off the kids at school or if they have a last minute emergency – we know they’re focused on service users and will get the job done.