It’s Still Early Days… BUT…

It’s Still Early Days… BUT…

Sam Hall, the Chief Digital Officer for Local Authorities in Wales

By Sam Hall, Chief Digital Officer  

We all know that the last year has been less than ideal for most of us. There has been so much uncertainty, which makes it even more crazy to have changed jobs during a pandemic. But change I did. I was absolutely loving my role in Birmingham, even during the difficult times around lockdown, shielding, PPE issues and everything else we had thrown at us, I could always rely on my team to do the very best they could. They were superb. Every single day.

The role of Chief Digital Officer for Welsh Local Government was just a dream job for me. 

The first role of this kind, in my profession, in my country and for the people I love. Sign me up.

My heart told me that I had to apply. It was quite the process – as all things are at this level, however, it was worth it, and I never doubted that me and the job would be a perfect fit. Now three months in, I’m sure I did the right thing.

My initial thoughts were – ‘what a lovely bunch of people’ the Welsh Local Government Association are. And they really are. Everyone I’ve met has been helpful and friendly, they are also committed and driven in their individual fields, but all with the same goal of supporting councils to deliver the very best services they can.

And that’s where I come in.

I’ve met with so many people from across councils, both officers and councillors. They are dealing with so much, and yet they are still looking for improvements and innovation. There is huge support in Wales from all levels of government. It feels like the early Government Digital Services days when we knew the team there had the backing to make real, lasting change. Wales, as a country, has that feeling now.

The new Centre for Digital Public Service is established and helping us to identify collaborative projects where we can work together to solve problems and improve services – once for Wales.  Myself, Sally, the interim CEO for the Centre, Glyn the CDO for Welsh Government and the hotly awaited new CDO for NHS Wales are there to develop and foster a digital, data driven ecosystem.  We are already thinking about our priorities, and how we can work together on the really important things like diversity, inclusion, participation, attracting and keeping talent in Wales, and developing innovative solutions to service delivery.

So if the first three months were about feeling. Taking onboard the emotional part of the role. The bit that tells you how committed people are, how important this is to them, and how much delivering for our citizens means to them.  The next three are about learning and understanding. What do our citizens want from us? Where are we now in delivering that? Where do we need to be?  How are we going to do it? All the easy questions! I cannot begin to explain how exciting a time it is for us. No bridge too far, no road too long, no mountain too high – we are Wales, and we’ve got it all.