I first heard about the Local Government Challenge back in October 2016. An email from my colleague Si landed in my inbox:
“Anyone up for the Local Government Challenge 2017? It’s like ‘The Apprentice’ but for local government.”
I was quickly sold.
I love watching ‘The Apprentice’ and can be a little bit competitive at times, so the idea of working together as a team to complete challenges and come up with new and innovative ideas appeals to me. The reality of ‘The Apprentice’ – being on TV, having to live and work with people who have been chosen purely for their physical attractiveness and entertainment value and working towards the grand prize of making lots of money for someone who already has more than enough – is not for me, but the local government version sounded like all of the good bits without any of the bad.
The local government version of ‘The Apprentice’ (the Local Government Challenge) has been running for eight years now. Every year, ten contestants are selected to compete in two teams in five challenges set up in different local authorities across the country. No one gets fired from the Local Government Challenge, but contestants are scored both as teams and individuals, and after five challenges the top three or four contestants with the highest scores go on to pitch an idea at the 2017 LGA Conference, and the winning contestant is awarded the £10,000 Bruce-Lockhart Scholarship. The challenges are real problems that Councils are facing, and you have 24 hours to complete each challenge, so team working, time management, innovative ideas and problem solving skills are crucial.
After a quick chat with Liz (my supportive manager and Acting Director of Public Health for Coventry) to check whether it would be OK for me to apply (she said yes, and was as excited as I was), I sent off the application form.
A little over a month later, I had an email to say that I had got through to the next stage – an assessment day.
The words ‘assessment day’ brought back interesting memories of previous job applications, with scary interviews and other (over) confident applicants, and I started to feel a bit nervous. Having looked into the plan for the day and what I needed to do (a group exercise, an ‘informal chat’ and a two minute presentation to camera), I got in touch with my colleague Si who had been a previous Local Government Challenge contestant back in 2014. Si’s advice (“don’t worry about it”, “don’t overthink it”, “be yourself, and just act like you normally would at work”), was reassuring, and I followed it – focusing my energy on preparing for my two minute presentation and trying to remember to be myself.
The day itself seemed to go well – the other potential contestants were very nice and not at all like the people who you see on ‘The Apprentice’, the group exercise was much easier than trying to solve a real problem at work, because everyone was on their best behaviour and was honing their ‘collaboration’ and ‘team working skills’, and I managed to deliver my presentation in about 1 minute and 40 seconds!
After a short wait for the judges to do their judging, I found out after Christmas that I had been selected for the Local Government Challenge 2017, and that the first challenge would take place at the end of January! As I didn’t know where the first challenge would be or what it would entail, there was nothing I could do to prepare – I just had to wait to find out what was in store.
Watch the introduction to the LG Challenge here.