Professor Catherine Staite

In this regular feature a member of staff discusses their role within the department. In this edition Professor Catherine Staite talks about her new role as Director of Public Sector Reform, stepping down from her previous role as Director of the department and her involvement in the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

After five and half years as Director of INLOGOV, I stepped down in the New Year and handed the reins to Catherine Mangan. In some ways, it was a big relief to hand over responsibility for the leadership and management of the Department to such a talented and capable successor. In other ways, it was hard to change gear after such a long time in the role.

I am now dividing my time between my continuing work for the Department - teaching on campus, in-authority and on line masters programmes, executive development programmes and commissioned research - and with a new role as Director of Public Sector Reform.

Through this role, I'll be contributing to the development and delivery of UoB’s Regional Strategy, in collaboration with colleagues from across the University. The aim of the role is to support better strategic regional engagement and development of productive relationships across the university and with local government and the wider public sector.

This will include convening a Public Sector Group to share academic thinking on research relevant to the regional agenda and to encourage interdisciplinary co-operation, providing thought leadership on local government and wider public sector reform issues, through articles, conference presentations, panel discussions, one-to-one conversation, and so on, and supporting the growth of consultancy, executive development and knowledge transfer in support of public sector reform.

I'll also be looking at ways in which we can enable easier access to sources of evidence to support improvement and innovation by local authorities, the WMCA and the wider public sector, via social media.

Given its expertise and focus, INLOGOV, in partnership with the PSA, is well placed to contribute to the work of the WMCA. I'll be offering support to the elected Mayor, Andy Street and his team, particularly on managing the complex political environment, and to Leaders and chief executives of the local authorities in the West Midlands and the Combined Authority, as well as continuing to support our long established relationship with Birmingham City Council.

The devolution of powers and resources from central government to the WMCA and the creation of a directly elected Mayor has opened a new chapter in the history of the West Midlands. The region faces a number of real challenges including congestion, poor air quality, low productivity, entrenched poverty in some areas, as well as problems with the physical and mental health of the population. The Mayor has plans in place to tackle some of those long standing challenges, through science technology and innovation as well as through bringing the public and private sectors together to harness resources and energy to deliver real change. The creation of this new role is part of UoB’s long-standing commitment to supporting those endeavours and playing an active role in the improvement and development of the region as a whole.