Biographies of the Managing Director and Executive Directors of Norfolk County Council.
Dr Wendy Thomson joined Norfolk County Council in August 2014, where she has established a new senior management structure and appointed a new senior leadership team.
As local government faces the challenge of additional responsibilities with less money, Norfolk’s strategy is to ‘re-imagine’ its role and ways of delivering services.
Wendy is an experienced leader who has managed large scale system change, having worked with politicians in the UK and internationally.
In the UK, Wendy was former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Chief Adviser and led the Office of Public Service Reform in the Cabinet Office. She was founding Chief Executive of the Leadership Centre for Local Government, founding Director of the Best Value Inspection service at the Audit Commission, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Newham and Deputy Chief Executive of the London Borough of Islington.
As Chair and Professor at McGill University, Wendy led the School of Social Work, and she is a well-known expert on public service reform. She has advised governments in Canada, Africa, Europe and the Middle East and was awarded a CBE in 2005 for her contribution to public service reform.
Tom has held similar roles in Shropshire and Cheshire.
Tom’s remit ranges from libraries to economic development; highways to Fire and Rescue; recycling centres to customer services. The focus is on tailoring services to needs of local communities, and working with partners to ensure value for money.
Previously Tom has worked for a number of county, city and unitary councils including Kent, Lancashire and Liverpool.
Sara’s role is a key statutory one, leading a department which combines children’s social care with support to deliver excellence in education countywide.
Sara is a social worker by profession, with 32 years of experience delivering services to children and young people. She has held a number of senior roles over the last 10 years, leading social care, education and community health services.
Sara was the Director of Children Services for three-and-a-half years with Dorset County Council and led a successful bid for £2m from the Department for Education’s social care innovation fund, to rethink social work. In April 2017, Sara took on the additional role of adult and community services.
Sara spent four years as elected director on the board of ADCS (2011-2015). She advised ministers in the production of the 2004 Children Act, contributed to the publication ‘Narrowing the Gap’ and was part of the expert group for prevention and early intervention, producing the publication ‘Grasping the Nettle’.
Simon joined Norfolk County Council in May 2015 from the London Borough of Harrow where he was Director of Finance and Assurance. Simon joined Harrow from Ealing Council, where he had a similar role for eight years.
Simon’s primary role is to ensure the council’s long-term financial health and his remit includes the Budget and financial management, audit, pensions, and making the most of our property assets.
Prior to this he worked at the BBC for 10 years in senior finance roles across TV, radio and new media. Simon was part of the launch team of the multi award winning BBC News Online.
Before his appointment at Norfolk County Council, Simon was chair of the Board of Trustees at the Norfolk children’s charity Break.
James Bullion took up the role of Executive Director of Adult Social Services in January 2017. His role is to develop and transform services in a department responsible for spending almost £1m a day to improve the lives of vulnerable adults in the county.
For the previous two years he had been Director of Adult Operations at Essex County Council, which he joined in 2013 as a Director for Commissioning. During his time in Essex, he oversaw some major developments in the fast-moving world of adult social care, including the implementation of the Care Act and a new case management system, at the same time as leading Adult Operations through a major restructure to reconnect frontline teams with the communities they serve.
Under his leadership, Essex forged stronger links with the health service, including the introduction of ‘Good Lives’ in adult social care – an approach which is receiving national recognition as an innovative response to the challenges facing the sector, by creating a new relationship between professionals and people who need support.
James is also the national Director lead for Social Care and Justice for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the regional ADASS lead for workforce and leadership development.