Defence industry to benefit from transformational public services leadership programme

The new National Leadership Centre (NLC) welcomes its first cohort of public sector managers today, developing their leadership skills to help them transform public services. Invited participants, including Chief Constables, Fire Chiefs and CEOs of Hospital Trusts, will begin a coaching and collaboration programme with support from world leading institutions such as the University of Oxford and MIT.


Joining the board for the programme are Sir Jon Thompson, former Permanent Secretary, HMRC and Ministry of Defence, and General Sir Gordon Messenger, Former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (2016-19), alongside Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, and Professor Dame Janet Beer, the Vice Chancellor at the University of Liverpool and President of Universities UK.


Each year, the innovative programme will develop the skills of over 100 senior public service leaders. Participants will be coached in different areas including future technologies, like AI and robotics, to understand how they can embrace new tools to transform public service.


A new global evaluation hub will support data-driven research on leadership and innovation, further enhancing the UK’s position as a thought leader on public services.  


Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, said: “I am thrilled that the National Leadership Centre is being launched to support Chief Executives across the entire public sector to be world-class leaders. The Centre is working with outstanding and exceptional leaders and visionaries who I am sure will help this government deliver truly world-leading public services.”


Dame Sara Thornton, Chair of the NLC, said: “The National Leadership Centre provides a unique opportunity to support cross sector leadership in public service, through its leadership programme, networking and research. It is a privilege to have been appointed as Chair to help shape the Centre’s strategic direction. I look forward to working with leaders across a variety of sectors in order to ensure our public service continues to thrive and serves the public in the best way possible.”


Chief Executive of the Civil Service, John Manzoni said: “I am incredibly excited to see the National Leadership Centre launch. Those involved will learn from the very best and develop a fantastic network offering knowledge sharing and peer support.”


“The development of our senior leaders will help them drive improvement in the UK’s crucial services the public use every day.”


The NLC’s Board and Chair were also announced today. Chaired by Dame Sara Thornton DBE, QPM, the new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and former first Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, they include:


Sir Jon Thompson                        Former Permanent Secretary, HMRC and Ministry of Defence

General Sir Gordon Messenger   Former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (2016-19)

Deb McKenzie                               Chief People Officer, NHS England

Mike Cunningham                        CEO, College of Policing

Pat Ritchie                                    CEO, Newcastle City Council

Professor Dame Janet Beer        VC, University of Liverpool & President, Universities UK

Steve McGuirk                              Former CEO, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Melanie Richards                        Deputy Chair, KMPG UK

Sir Ken Olisa                               Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London

Peter Wanless                             CEO, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Paul Martin                                 Former Director of Security for Parliament

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