Ann has had a long career working in adult and children's services across seven local authorities in a variety of settings. She was Director of Social Services then Director of Adult and Children's Services in Stockton on Tees between 1998 and 2008. She joined the London Borough of Camden as DCS in 2008-2012. She led for the Association of Directors of Children's Services on Health, Care and Additional Needs and was Advisor to the Enquiry team led by Lord Laming which produced "The Protection of "Children in England- a progress report 2009".
Ann now balances a range of consultancy, charity and chairing roles.
Its important for me to feel I’m making a difference. I know it’s a cliché, but that’s the reason why we choose to work in public services. I have absolutely no regrets. If I was beginning my career today I would choose to do the same thing. To know that something has changed someone’s life for the better, and that I’ve had something to do with it, is a great feeling.
Being the first Director of Children and Adults Services in Stockton on Tees gave me great satisfaction. We built a new team, at a new time, that really did make a difference.
To someone going into a leadership position today I would say “Stay humble, be excited and determined, and find a good mentor.” Building in time for reflection and learning from great people who inspire you is the best way I know to gain insight into being a better leader. That, and to always expect the unexpected. You never know when a monkey’s going to land on your head!
Arrogance is a real de-railer of leaders. No-one is indispensible. Being able to adapt to the changing environment, being flexible but not losing sight of the core vision is a real challenge, especially in these turbulent times, but its fundamental.
John Ransford, Director then CEO in North Yorkshire then Chief Officer of the LGA had a massive impact on me. He gave me opportunities and trusted me, challenging me to be better than I thought I could.
I’ve tried to inspire others by developing a shared vision of why we’re here and what we could do, modelling the behaviours we need, listening and trusting, and recognising and celebrating good work.
When everyone feels valued, then everyone has the opportunity to have great ideas. the best thing a leader can do is listen. Giving employees time, a good line manager, good induction and encouraging them to feel part of the greater whole will ensure the culture of the organisation runs consistently through it.
The best leaders are a mixture of great parent, great teacher, great mentor and demanding visionary. I admire those who have a great vision and make it happen, and would love my legacy to be that I have helped others to become great leaders.
On reflection, I think I’d tell my younger self “You are so lucky. Make the most of every opportunity.”
People tend to think I am more confident than I am. We are all unsure and have doubts at times. I’ve been lucky, I’ve worked with inspirational people and I have a determined streak. The best advice I ever ignored was “You couldn’t apply for that.”
Having a life outside work, prioritising people I love and music keeps me sane. Listening to something that takes me to a different place works if its been a particularly tough day.
Best leadership advice? Always do your very best, and know when to go!