Shokat Lal, assistant chief executive, Rotherham Council
Ellie Froggatt, September 17, 2019
Shokat Lal is responsible for the council’s people and governance function and part of the strategic leadership team that took Rotherham Council out of intervention and on a rapid journey of improvement and innovation
Lal joined the council in March 2017 as the assistant chief executive with overall responsibility for change and transformation, human resources and organisational development, neighbourhood working, corporate communications and marketing, democratic and scrutiny services and performance, intelligence and improvement.
The council has been one of the fastest-improving councils in the country, recognising the speed and pace of change and following a recent independent health check that summarised the council’s ‘moral compass’ had been restored and the organisation was now flexible, ambitious and outward facing.
Lal has worked in local government for 29 years in a range of roles; starting out in a frontline service role, moving to research and policy, training and development, customer services, change and transformation and a range of HR/OD roles.
In 2007 Lal won the award for national training manager of the year. In addition to this he has worked as an assistant director of customer and workforce services at Coventry City Council, managing the customer services transformation programme and successfully overseeing the migration of council services into the contact centre. Lal has led on a number of major transformation programmes including a business services review at Coventry and implementing a centralised administration function. This review involved more than a thousand employees and led to savings of £6 million. In Coventry he also developed the council’s single front door for customers.
Lal supported Coventry through a number of phases in its transformation journey, in particular around continuous improvement. In addition to leading on the organisational development work, culture change and new ways of working projects, Lal has led on a high-profile and innovative award-winning social worker recruitment campaign, developed an apprenticeship scheme and strategy that has resulted in 120 placements being offered at any one time at the council, and developed a new model for HR delivery based on the challenges the council faces over the next three to five years.
Lal was vice chair of Southern Derbyshire CCG until March 2019, working at a board-level role for more than 12 years and in a voluntary capacity he has worked on a range of community cohesion projects and initiatives.