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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

The Highlight of the Year!

Next week sees what is for me the professional highlight of the year – our three days in Manchester for the ADCS Annual Conference. Firstly it’s great to have it in Manchester as it supports our local economy and provides cultural enlightenment for colleagues from London as they marvel at our trams pulled by teams of whippets in flat caps! From a selfish point of view as a local it also means I can come in on the 192 – always a pleasure!

Obviously there is a lot of high quality professional debate and the opportunity to learn from the best in the country through the workshop sessions, but the reason most of us love to go is for the networking, especially the chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues and get up to speed on all the news and of course the gossip.

As the local though it also brings with it great responsibility as I am the social secretary of the clandestine organisation known as Cohort 5 and have to arrange an evening out for us. Cohort 5 refers to the brilliant DCS development programme run by the Staff College for DCSs when there was money around and was sponsored by Ed Balls to ensure that DCSs were properly trained before he sacked them! This was a wonderful programme which provided world class development to those of us who got to go on it. It introduced ideas like the “authorising environment” and “being on the balcony” that have shaped how so many of us think about leadership. It was delivered via drama and poetry and was simply the best development I have ever been on.

I was part of the final cohort alongside about 25 others and it is my job to organise a night out for us every conference. One of the striking things is how the group has shrunk over the years – there are only 7 of us left working as DCSs. Some have been promoted – we have one colleague who is now a Chief Executive – but far more of us have fallen to the vagaries of energy of the group it is a terrible waste of talent. Some people have gone on to do enjoyable things too though so don’t get too downhearted.

My job then is to identify the pub and the restaurant for our evening. The pub is easy given the insistence of one of our number on having a pint of Robinsons (I am a lager and gin man myself so don’t get it). I have, however, been forced to undertake extensive research to try to find a new and exciting venue for us to eat– I hope they like what I have picked. So if you see a group of inebriated middle aged people wandering around Deansgate during the conference do come and join us – we need the numbers!

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