I’ve worked in the leisure industry for 22 years, first starting out as an outdoor activity instructor and now as a head of service for Blackpool Council.
I owe my progression, in part, to professional curiosity – always asking ‘why’ – sometimes oblivious to the frustration I’m causing along with a drive to always want to improve the services we provide.
I’m passionate about the role of local authorities, particularly in improving the health and wellbeing of local people, but also at times frustrated at the lack of progress and silo working I often see.
I recently had the opportunity to do an MBA through work and having done very little formal learning for nearly 20 years, I was both excited and apprehensive about it.
Having completed it in June 2021, I have to say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I loved learning new things every week and love the way it has shaped and rounded me as a leader.
I’ve been asked to write this blog as my dissertation explored the role of cross-sector collaboration in tackling inactivity.
Before undertaking this piece of research, I used the word ‘collaboration’ regularly, but now looking back I had a very superficial understanding of it.
I knew what it meant in terms of working with other people or partners, but didn’t truly understand how to do it or what the benefits really were.
This was probably in part because I saw local authority leisure as a huge player in tackling physical inactivity, whereas I realise now we are one part of a very big and complex jigsaw.
My project involved reading literature and previous research on cross sector collaboration, as well as interviewing sector leaders in both leisure and health, including leaders from Sport England, ukactive and Public Health England (as they were then), to name a few.