Partnership working puts career opportunities in the spotlight

The first in what could become a regular series of events with a focus on career opportunities takes place tomorrow (June 20) for Council staff.

Colleagues in the Organisational Development team have put in a great deal of hard work to pull together an interesting programme featuring workshops as well as hosting stalls from a number of organisations.

Thanks to all those internally who have come together to deliver this and to those externally who have pledged their support.

The Career Opportunities Information Day is aimed at individuals interested in expanding their skills or finding out more about career opportunities with the Council and partners. I’m sure it will attract a lot of interest and everyone is welcome to drop in between 9am and 4pm at the Town and County Hall. Workshop places can be booked in advance.

As well as our own Council teams there will be representatives from Bon Accord Care and the Aberdeen Sports Village, Cornerstone, NHS Grampian, Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland in attendance in addition to Skills Development Scotland, NESCOL and the University of Aberdeen.

We’re committed to career development and ensuring individuals realise their potential – there continue to be great opportunities both with the Council and our partners, so it’s important information is shared as widely as possible.

I know these events have proved popular at other local authorities and I think there’s great potential for our own to gather momentum.

Congratulations to our Star Awards finalists and winners

Last night the Star Awards winners for 2018 were crowned and it was inspiring evening at the Beach Ballroom as we recognised colleagues from across the Council.

Can I firstly congratulate all of our finalists – to be shortlisted is a fantastic achievement, with nominations this year as strong as ever.

Our winners deserved their time in the spotlight and my congratulations to all of those who came away with a coveted Star Award.

The 2018 roll of honour is:

Improving Staff Experience – Lynn Scanlon;

Collaboration – Marchburn and Oldtown Working Group;

Improving Use of Resources – Heathryfold Park Building Project;

Innovation – Will Burnish, flooding and coastal operations;

Rising Star – Graeme Baird;

People’s Champion – Ian Geddes;

Improving Customer Experience –  Grace Shanks;

Team of the Year – Environmental Services, Aberdeen In Bloom team;

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Special mention to Gordon McDade and the hard-working organising group who pulled the whole event together from start to finish as well as everyone who played their part – from our MCs on the night to sponsors, judges and everyone in between. It was a real team effort.

The Star Awards allow us to come together to celebrate not just the award wins and finalists but all the amazing work that has been done over the past year.

Not everyone can win a Star Award – but every single one of us within the Council should take a real sense of pride in this organisation. As Chief Executive I’m certainly proud of our people and proud of the way we deliver for everyone we serve in the city.

When you take a step back and consider all of the ways Aberdeen City Council touches the lives of residents and visitors, not to mention the impact we have on businesses and the third sector, it is quite incredible. Every individual member of staff, every team, every cluster and function is working day in and day out to make a difference.

We don’t often take the time to acknowledge all of the great things that you do as staff. I made reference last night to modesty being a very admirable Aberdonian quality. Often I hear things being spoken about as ‘Business as Usual’. In actual fact, so often what you do is extraordinary and I’m delighted we are able to recognise just some of those contributions through the Star Awards.

I never fail to come away from the Star Awards feeling energised by the efforts of colleagues – not to mention humbled by the selflessness that shines through time and time again. Last night was no exception.

Once again my congratulations go to our winners and finalists any my thanks to everyone who played a part, from nominating and judging through to organising and entertaining.


Three cheers to end the week

It’s nice to end the working week on a note of congratulations and there is a hat-trick to celebrate today.

On June 1 Bon Accord Care took centre stage at the cHeRries Awards. Now in their 11th year, the annual ceremony recognises excellence in HR. Bon Accord Care claimed the prize in the Exceptional Employee Engagement category, in the face of competition from finalists from the private sector. It is a fantastic achievement and a real endorsement for the approach being taken.

Next week it is the turn of staff and pupils from Hanover Street School to be put in the spotlight – with a group travelling to London Zoo on Thursday to collect the prize as Scottish champions in the Better Energy School Awards. Congratulations to all of the young pupils involved, not to mention Elizabeth Elrick and the rest of the Hanover Street team.

Finally, congratulations to all involved with our very own  choir – Bonnie Achord.  Talented colleagues took to the stage for the VSA Sing, Sing, Sing event at the Beach Ballroom last month to continue their support for a very popular charity event – proudly flying the flag for Aberdeen City Council and the organisations represented in the choir’s membership, including Aberdeenshire Council and NHS Grampian. It’s a fantastic cause to support and I know lots of planning and preparation went into the latest performance. Well done to all.

Soon the attention also turns to the Star Awards, with the presentation evening taking place on Thursday. I’m looking forward to recognising all of those shortlisted, nominated by their peers and the public. The Star Awards represent the perfect opportunity to recognise the great work being done by individuals and teams throughout the Council and it promises to be another great occasion.

Latest Chief Officer appointment confirmed

Further to my update at the beginning of the week, I’m delighted to confirm that Sandra Ross has been appointed to the Chief Officer role at the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership.

Sandra is already prominent in the care sector in Aberdeen through her current role as Managing Director of Bon Accord Care and her experience and expertise will be valuable to the Partnership.

Sandra will take up post later in the summer. As intimated on Tuesday, Sally Shaw will continue in the role of Interim Chief Officer to ensure a smooth handover process.

This is another important step in building the leadership team and Sandra will have an important role to play not only with the Partnership but in terms of the collaborative approach that is so vital to the Council and our public sector partners.

Further updates on recruitment for the remaining Chief Officer vacancies will be shared as they become available.

Roll-out of refreshed branding begins

Our new Aberdeen City Council crest and branding has made its first appearance on our digital platforms today and you will begin to see it more and more in the weeks and months ahead.

When the crest was approved at the City Growth and Resources Committee it was on the basis of a phased approach.

Our website, social media and other digital platforms will be the first to benefit from the new and clearer visual identity. It will also be rolled out to include other assets – for example print material, signage and vehicle livery – only when these are due for replacement or reprinting.

This approach minimises any costs to the Council and was central to the decision to move forward with the branding.


At the time of the decision I saw debate on the Ideas Hub about the merits of the new branding and many of the comments related to costs – understandably given the focus on budgets throughout the organisation.

The design work was undertaken by our talented in-house team led by Keith Fraser, as part of their normal schedule of work, and therefore there was no spend on external agencies or consultancies. The roll-out, as mentioned, is being managed to ensure there is no additional expenditure. I hope that gives comfort to those who voiced concerns.

The refresh of the branding, with the new crest at its heart, was prompted by issues with the reproduction of the intricate existing crest – which can become lost when displayed amongst other partner logos and doesn’t always print well. Those are the technical considerations.

More importantly, the focus on accessibility is vital for the Council and there are very clear stipulations for visual materials. The new crest and branding applies those principles, with comprehensive brand guidelines being finalised and providing clear direction on a palette of colours and specific fonts to ensure material meets with our commitment to equalities. Accessibility for all of our customer groups is imperative, particularly as we move to a greater emphasis on digital platforms.

Information and guidance from Marketing and Design colleagues about how this will apply across the Council will be updated on The Zone. In the meantime there are no actions for individual services at this stage.

At a time when we are building the Council of the future, the new and contemporary identity also represents the evolution of the organisation and has been designed with digital applications as a priority. It is another piece in the jigsaw as the picture of our digital approach takes shape.

This is an important piece of work and I must thank everyone who has played their part. The design and development of a new brand includes an enormous amount of diligence and creativity – both of which have been to the fore in this project, demonstrating the in-house capability we have.

I’m looking forward to the new crest becoming a familiar sight throughout the Council and the city.

Chief Officer recruitment update: Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership

To continue the recent updates in relation to Chief Officer appointments, I’m pleased to confirm that we have identified a preferred candidate for the Chief Officer role at the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership.

The appointment is subject to the usual pre-employment checks and once these are completed I will be able to provide further details on the successful candidate.

Sally Shaw has been covering the role on an interim basis and I must place on record my thanks to her for her contribution as Interim Chief Officer.

Sally has now accepted the post of Chief Officer of the Orkney Health and Social Care Partnership and will move on with our best wishes.  She will remain in post to allow a smooth transition to our new appointee.

Recruitment for the remaining Chief Officer vacancies continues, with the Strategic Place Planning and Integrated Children’s and Family Services posts now open to internal applicants.

I look forward to providing further updates in the weeks ahead.


Chief Officer appointment confirmed

I’m pleased to announce the latest step in the recruitment process for the leadership team.

John Wilson has been appointed to the post of Chief Officer Capital and will commence this key role on 2 July 2018.

John will be well known to many within Aberdeen City Council through his current post as Managing Agent for the AWPR, where he has been integral to the delivery of one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects in partnership with Transport Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council.

Recognising that the AWPR is nearing completion and is expected to be open to use in autumn 2018, John will retain an overseeing role as Managing Agent for the coming months.

His experience and expertise will be of great benefit to the Council as we deliver our own ambitious capital programme and I look forward to working with John as part of the leadership team.

There are now just three Chief Officer roles to be filled. The selection process for the Chief Officer People and Organisation and the Chief Officer for the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership takes place this week.

Finally, the recruitment process for the Chief Officer Strategic Place Planning will commence this week.

I will provide further updates as they become available.

Congratulations to staff recognised for putting customers first

I had the pleasure of presenting plaques and certificates at an event to celebrate a further 15 Aberdeen City Council establishments being awarded WorldHost Business Recognition status.

The special ceremony at the Town House was for staff who had taken part in the customer service excellence training, representing the latest Council-run venues to receive the special status.

The latest awards cemented Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s status as the largest region in Scotland to secure WorldHost Recognised Destination status – with more than 110 local businesses successfully completing nationally recognised customer service training programmes.

The WorldHost training programmes, which originated in Canada, were first brought to the UK to prepare local businesses in and around London for the influx of international visitors for the 2012 Olympic Games.  The programme proved so successful it was adopted by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.

Our Organisational Development team has trained more than 500 front-line staff to complete customer service training to WorldHost standards.

03/05/18 World Host celebration award ceremony for Aberdeen City Council staff

Through our commitment to the WorldHost Recognition Destination initiative we are able to provide customer service training to council employees, which enables them to develop the skills and confidence to match our ambitions as an organisation which puts its customers first.

Thanks to the commitment of our staff we continue to build the Council’s reputation of having staff that are friendly, approachable, knowledgeable and willing to go that extra mile to help.

The 15 establishments to receive the WorldHost Business Recognition status were: Aberdeen Crematorium; Beach Ballroom; Bridge of Don Library; Cornhill Library; Cove Library; Culter Library; Cults Library; Duthie Park; Dyce Library; Ferryhill Library; Hazlehead Park; Kincorth Library; Mastrick Library; Northfield Library; Torry Library.

Previous City Council recipients of WorldHost Business Recognition status include: Aberdeen Maritime Museum; Airyhall Library; Archibald Simpson House; Bucksburn Library; Central Library; Tillydrone Library; Woodside Library.

My congratulations go to all involved in helping Aberdeen City Council to be a WorldHost Destination.

Gardening tips from our green-fingered star of the small screen

If you haven’t already watched our newest star of the small screen in action and you’re seeking some summer inspiration, I’d urge you all to take a look at the Council Gardener video blog.

Daniel Shand, one of our talented and dedicated band of staff, is the man in the spotlight – and he’s proving a natural!



I loved Daniel’s first post and the May edition has just been published, with more tips and advice.

Well worth a watch and please share with friends and family too – it certainly deserves a good audience and I know the videos are already getting lots of positive feedback.

Thanks and well done to Daniel for agreeing to take part and for his work in pulling together the content and to Norman Adams for his efforts in filming and editing, not to mention the guests who have agreed to take part. I’m looking forward to the June installment,

Appointments to Chief Officer Finance and Chief Officer Digital and Technology roles

Further to last week’s update on Chief Officer recruitment, I’m delighted to announce we have now concluded the appointment to the Finance role and the Digital and Technology role.

Jonathan Belford has accepted the post of Chief Officer Finance and Andrew Howe  the post of Chief Officer Digital and Technology.  I look forward to working with them both as an important part of our new leadership team.

Jonathan, currently Executive Manager of Finance with Shetland Islands Council, is very familiar with Aberdeen City Council having previously served as Corporate Accounting Manager.

Andrew, currently Head of End User Services at the University of St Andrews brings with him considerable experience of aligning Information Technology to business requirements that will support and drive the digital transformation agenda

They have been appointed following a rigorous selection process and are both looking forward to playing their part in the evolution of the Council and supporting our ambitions for the city and its people.

As highlighted last week, a preferred candidate has also been identified for the Chief Officer Capital role.  I will be in a position to provide further details on this appointment soon.

With the leadership team continuing to take shape, can I once again thank you for the support being shown to Chief Officers, Directors and I during this important period. I know you will join me in extending a warm welcome to Jonathan and Andrew when they join us later in the summer.