Hello PPMA members and friends,

Sonia Grewal, HRD at Swindon BC, was crowned Peer of the Year at the PPMA Annual Conference in Bristol last April. She’s had an amazing year and as her term is coming to an end, she shares her experiences with us.

“The opportunity to participate in Peer into the Future (the partnership between Penna and PPMA) Cohort 4 was made available to me as I was joining Swindon Borough Council and local government from the NHS.

I was delighted when my application was accepted, but also slightly apprehensive as to what to expect. My aspirations from Peer into the Future were to tap into a strong network of other senior HR & OD professionals within the wider landscape of local government as well as the opportunity to benchmark and learn from others in the sector.

The structure and content of the sessions, featuring some truly inspirational guest speakers, together with the opportunity to have some clear thinking space, allowed me to reflect on the position of HR & OD in Swindon very early into my role.  There is no requirement to complete assignments or work outside of each module – it’s truly action learning. However, reflection and input to each session is essential, so taking some thought away about how you are going to implement them or consider them in the workplace is a must.  This is a great space to share ideas and challenge thinking in a safe environment.

Input from the guest speakers really sets a direction for how HR & OD professionals in local government, as well as across the public sector, develop and move into a wider space to ensure they are skilled to support the strategic challenges that our organisations are facing.  Much of this is about thinking in a different way as it is resetting our narrative and how we operate in a changing landscape. I took reflections from each session along with the shared learning with peers on the cohort back into Swindon, both in terms of my professional role and development as well as wider organisational challenges.

Peer into the Future has been fantastic for the networking opportunities and learning in the present, and has allowed me to develop into my first HRD role. It has also helped me reposition the critical role that HR & OD professionals play in the challenging context of local government.  This has significantly shifted the profile of HR & OD within the Council  from a traditional, transactional service to a true strategic partner sitting alongside the Corporate Team.

Each of the modules are really well thought out with great speakers and subjects but you get out what you put in.  It is beneficial to have a plan for how you use your time on the Peer programme and also for what comes after.

I enjoy being part of the PPMA Board and Vice Chair of South West PPMA as well as helping to shape the future of the PPMA as the national voice for the public sector HR/OD profession. I’ve also supported members of my team to attend Peer into the Future to ensure ongoing development for them and the organisation.

If you’re looking to reposition the role of HR & OD in your current organisation, I would certainly recommend Peer into the Future.  You’ll be given the opportunity to create some clear thinking space for yourself and become part of a network of past and present Peers’ and the PPMA.  There will also be access to coaching and mentoring as well as the opportunity to become involved with the PPMA in order to support other fantastic programmes such as Rising Stars and Apprenticeships.”

Sonia Grewal, PPMA Peer of the Year 2017, HRD at Swindon BC and Vice Chair of PPMA South West Region