On winning

Last night I had the honour of being announced winner of the Guardian Public Services – Leadership Excellence Award.


We were informed the results were close and I was blown away when my name was announced. In fact shocked – I literally couldn’t believe that I had managed to win through a public vote. A special thanks has to go to Dan Slee who started a campaign and was relentless in encouraging people to vote for me.

I would also like to thank everyone who took the time to vote, not just for me but for the other incredible short listed candidates.

I was fortunate to be able to share the moment and evening with my wife Sharon who always provides incredible support and encourages me to grow.


I was also able to share the moment with Councillor Barry Parsons (Devon County Councillor and Cabinet Member for Performance and Engagement). It was great to get another opportunity to help raise the profile of being open by default and digital by design to local councillors.

I want to thank the members of the public leaders editorial board who nominated me and I managed to actually meet some of the board at the awards which was great.

There are so many individuals who have helped challenge my thinking and shaped my leadership skills over the years. But the following people deserve to get a special mention as some of the biggest contributors to who I am today.

In the council:
Tony Parker
My team (Russell, Sam, Matt, Tim, Patrick and Lore)
Sam Hill
Martin Howitt
Sara Cretney
Simon Kitchen
Pip Tucker
John Smith
Richard Carter
Michael Beechener

From outside the council
Dave Briggs
Dominic Campbell
Carrie Bishop
Mike Saunby
Sarah Lay
Sarah Jennings
Carl Whistlecraft
Dave McKenna
Catherine Howe
Andrea Siodmok
Anthony Zacharzewski
George Julian
Simon Gough
Phillippa Rose
Mark Cotton
Nick Hill
Dan Slee
Hadley Beeman
Jeremy Gould
Julie Hawker

Thank you – I very much value your insights, challenge and conversations. You may not know it but you are all an inspiration to me.

I also want to acknowledge the other short listed candidates as I admire them all and have huge respect for what they have and continue to achieve and I just hope that I can do them and myself proud moving forward.

I particularly want to acknowledge Mike Bracken – executive director of digital, cabinet office who has had a huge impact on the digital space in the public sector – for that I must thank him as it has made my job a little easier.

Whilst I recognise the relationship between local and central government isn’t always a happy and productive affair – Mike’s vision and leadership has had a huge positive and constructive disruption on local government and me personally. I’d love to have a conversation and hopefully work with Mike on how we can bridge that gap and look at how the relationship, skills and approaches can be developed an extended across local and central government.

Another thing to celebrate is that Devon actually won two awards last night, who said Devon wasn’t a hub of innovation 🙂 The Northern Devon NHS Trust won the Partnership Excellence award – we were championing Devon and were absorbing the ambiance of the fantastic venue right to the very end.


Finally I’m so proud to be representing local government and all those who work tirelessly to improve people’s lives.

We all do amazing work and we should all find the courage to stand up for those people and communities we serve.



15 thoughts on “On winning

  1. Huge, huge congratulations!!! I honestly can’t think of anybody deserving it more, you’re every bit a leader of public service change and ambody good practice.

    And I love that quote “people have said don’t go all weird and say this isn’t about me” – I tend to agree! Yes, others may have been involved, inspired and helped you along the way but you have stepped up to the plate and made the most of those opportunities and support. Just accept that you are awesome in the eyes of your peers, colleagues and the entire sector and smile.

  2. Well done, Carl. There’s no need on any level to say thanks for whatever shouting I did on line with the #votecarl hashtag as it’s not the hashtag that wins. It’s the person they connect with and that’s all you, you, you, innit.

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