Taking the PPMA from strength to strength

New president Pam Parkes shares her vision for the PPMA, and sets out the seven areas she will focus on.

This month I begin my term as president of the PPMA. I remain as passionate about the positive impact that the human resource and organisational development can have on public services as I am about the PPMA community.  It is a privilege to have the opportunity to serve both in this unique role for our sector.

FCIPD qualified, I have 40 years' experience in HR, recently as executive director for people and transformation at Essex CC.  Last year, I was delighted to be voted the third most influential person in HR in by HR Magazine.

Currently, in my role as commissioner to Birmingham City Council, my remit is to help the council improve its HR/OD capacity and to find solutions to their equal pay issue.  I aim to use my growing experience in sector led improvement to the advantage of PPMA members.

As the president of the PPMA, I will continue to advocate for the role HR/OD plays, tackling people challenges, supporting service transformation, and advising organisations how to get the best from their people. This will be critical as we enter a period of change in central government. 

HR/OD will have a key role to play solving some of the big problems we face in the delivery of public services. A critical mass of talented leaders will be required to drive wider sector improvements and productivity.  We will need to be laser focused on how we organise and build our workforce capability.  I will draw on my experience in service and HR/OD leadership to support PPMA colleagues through this challenge.

I celebrate and thank the former president, Gordon McFarlane for all he has achieved.  Under his presidency the PPMA has strengthened its offer to members.  Membership is at an all-time high. Our capability to share best practice has widened Our talent and awards programme has expanded.

My ambition is to continue his legacy. Specifically, I will focus on seven areas.

First, championing the people that lead and support our workforce. Public services is all about the people and people managers.  Sometimes, the connection between good public services and the people that deliver them is not recognised or appreciated. 

A year of impressive membership growth has shown there is strength in size.  More members means more people sharing best practice, solutions, ideas, and supporting one another.  My second goal is to continue this growth enabling the PPMA to increase visibility and influence.

As a third priority, I'll be promoting the PPMA's talent development programmes and celebrating the impact they have on participants. Whether they are early career or aspiring to operate at director level this support enables the HR/OD talent pipeline to flourish and grow.

In line with my focus on service improvement and productivity, my fourth priority is to encourage the continuous exchange of learning between members.  While there's no blueprint to respond to the ever-evolving challenges we face, the willingness of our community to share, adapt and learn from best practice is our strength. 

Fifth, I will seek to strengthen our relationships across other public sector membership bodies that enable us to broaden our thinking, reach and collective power. Relationships with the West Midlands Employers, SOCITM, HPMA, UHR, CIPD will be increasingly important as we embrace AI, new technology and transform public service delivery, it is here where system leadership will be key.

Sixth, increasing workforce capability and efficiency by driving the case for ongoing investment in workforce development.  We are delivering services in a tough financial environment.  With the current focus on cost control, we must not lose sight of the need to develop our people and skill base.

Seventh, I will continue to speak truth constructively to power and to counter unwarranted, negative narratives in the media, preserve workforce morale and positively impact public perception. We have a voice, and we will positively lean into the conversations about ED&I, ways of working, employee relations, workforce planning and skills.

I will be supported by four vice-presidents, Sandra Farquharson, director of HR and OD at Hackney LBC, Steve Walker-Whitehead, director of people, equality and OD at Hounslow LBC, Natasha Brown, Director of HR at Waltham Forest Borough Council, Nichola Mann, acting director of people & governance at Brentwood BC and Rochford DC. 

Together with other board members, we will provide leadership, build relationships with new and existing partners and sponsors, and take the PPMA from strength to strength.

Pam Parkes, Commissioner, Birmingham City Council and President, PPMA


Worry less about black swans, focus on grey rhinos

By Barry Quirk CBE | 19 July 2024

The studied critique of the Covid-19 Inquiry should encourage policymakers to pay more attention to other known but poorly managed risks, says Barry Quirk


Jackson to step down in the autumn

By Dan Peters | 19 July 2024

The chief executive officer of Wandsworth and Richmond LBCs, Mike Jackson, has decided to ‘step away from the role based entirely on personal family reasons’.


Squaring the circle

By Seb Lowe | 18 July 2024

Joe Montgomery and Seb Lowe review the King’s Speech, and they conclude the sector is well placed to help the Starmer government find solutions to several co...


Bexley confirms new permanent chief executive

By Martin Ford | 18 July 2024

Paul Thorogood has been officially confirmed as chief executive of Bexley LBC.