Executive Office Manager

One of the key words of the last two decades has been 'value'.  In addition to 'value added', 'best value' is now included in the lexicon of business language.  A 'best value authority' is empowered by the Local Government Act of 1999 to secure continuing improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised with regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Most local authorities have best value officers, policy and quality officers who are responsible for the use of best practice throughout the organisation.  Executive office managers play a key part in this process at a more senior level.  Indeed they may well have been best value or quality officers and with promotion moved to a more strategic role.  In planning and managing the corporate commitment to continuing improvement, they give support to the directorate in pursuit of its statutory obligations.  The executive office manager functions at the heart of quality development initiatives in every type of council.

Work Environment
The work is based at the council's main office complex and serves all the directorates.  In some authorities the executive office manager is located in the directorate for resources.

Some travel to other council departments and regional travel to seminars and network groups is required.  The standard working week is 35 hours but, in reality, it can amount to much more as there are evening meetings to attend and weekend working when deadlines have to be met.

Daily Activities
Executive office managers spend most of their time in meetings working with strategists and core groups to develop and implement council policy with regard to best principle and best practice.  This will entail liaising with managers from all the others services - from education to leisure - gathering information about how they are functioning and what arrangements are in place to help meet the council's vision and corporate priorities.  A typical day might involve research, compilation of data, report writing, verbal feedback, analysis and evaluation of information - all of which is fed back into the meeting for discussion and action.  And an important part of their remit includes marketing and public relations.  The executive office manager is a crucial resource in the authority's drive to improve and maintain the quality of its service and involves undertaking many key special projects such as:

  • the best value performance plan; 
  • a performance management framework;
  • strategic quality initiatives like charter mark applications;
  • the directorate's social inclusion and equality plan;
  • best value reviews;
  • strategic marketing management and marketing communications;
  • internal communications systems.

This is a cerebral job with a political flavour, requiring liaison with many different colleagues across the entire spectrum of the council's work and with elected members.

Skills & Interests
To do this job properly you need to be able to:

  • grasp new concepts and assimilate learning;
  • write creatively and logically using information to hand;
  • think laterally and make connections which may not always be obvious;
  • find ways to satisfy criteria enshrined in the council's core vision;
  • get on with people at many levels and from different backgrounds;
  • be an effective committee member;
  • be a good negotiator;
  • demonstrate a flair for marketing and public relations.

Entry Requirements
A university degree, a postgraduate qualification, significant experience and a proven track record are essential.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
This is a growth area with a wide range of opportunities.  At the moment, demand for the services an executive office manager can provide outstrips supply as councils have become more accountable to the public.  Promotion prospects are good and the next step up would be to the Head of Policy post, involving even more strategic responsibilities.  The top job is Chief Executive or Senior Policy Officer/Strategist. Outside of the local authority there are opportunities with the council's strategic partners and other public sector providers or with private sector business.

Further Information & Services
Chartered Institute of Administrative Management www.instam.org
Chartered Institute of Marketing www.cim.co.uk
Chartered Institute of Public Relations www.cipr.co.uk
Chartered Management Institute www.managers.org.uk
Local Government Association www.idea.gov.uk

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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