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News - 4 October 2012
Penny Thompson

New Chief Executive announced

After a bit of a shaky start and some disagreements, the cross-party selection panel has unanimously endorsed Penny Thompson CBE for the post of Brighton & Hove City Council chief executive which will go to full council for ratification on the 25th October.

The original four person, all-female short list [see earlier story] was reduced to three when Nicola Yates, former CEO of Hull City Council, dropped out.

The successful candidate, Penny Thompson, has held significant leadership roles in a variety of public services organisations starting her professional career as a social worker in London before moving to Sheffield, Cleveland and then Nottingham. She returned to Sheffield in 1998 as the Director for Social Services to lead it out of ‘special measures’ and was part of the executive management team that secured the top performance rating from the Audit Commission in 2004. Her boss at Sheffield, Sir Bob Kerslake said, ”She is extremely committed and ambitious, not just for personal development but for the service, the organisation and the team she is leading”.

She joined the London Borough of Hackney as its Chief Executive in 2005. The choice of appointment was a surprise in some quarters because she was up against a shortlist that included seven chief executives; at that time she was a deputy chief executive. She described her leadership style as “Inclusive, clear and direct with high expectations. My management style is strongly imbued with some clear leadership qualities. Doing a job like this - to bring about continued improvements and a change in the reputation that I want to see - there has got to be good, effective management. But it is also about leadership to inspire people to follow you to give a little bit more and be prepared to venture into [the] unknown."

She left Hackney after two and a half years receiving an undisclosed severance package and in 2007, she became a co-director of Peynser Thompson Ltd until 2010. This was a leadership consultancy undertaking diverse assignments for local authorities, Ofsted, other non-departmental bodies and the NHS. These included reviews of organisational capability, specific inquiries and investigations, coaching, facilitation, executive recruitment, and interim management.

In 2010 she was appointed Chief Executive of the General Care Social Council but the new coalition government took the decision to abolish the organisation within weeks of the general election [and her appointment] and she had to deliver the orderly winding-up of the Council and the transfer of its responsibilities to other bodies.

Upon accepting the job in Brighton & Hove Penny Thompson said, “I am delighted to have been offered the job of chief executive. Brighton & Hove is a truly wonderful city with huge potential for the future and the city council has an important role to play in ensuring it remains a place where people want to live, work and visit.

"I look forward to working with staff, partners and elected members of all political parties to help the city fulfil its potential.”


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