Non-Executive Advisors formally appointed

Published: Wednesday, 7th August 2019

Five Non-Executive Advisors who are part of the city council’s new improvement model have formally been appointed.

They are all aligned to the council’s priority areas and will work alongside the council management team.

They are:

  • Max Caller, former Boundary Commission Chair and London Borough of Tower Hamlets Commissioner - Risk management
  • Donna Hall, New Local Government Network Chair – Good Governance and Culture Change, and Peer support to the corporate management team and cabinet in leading this change and transformation
  • Sean Hanson, Local Partnerships CEO - Waste governance and industrial relations
  • Javed Khan, Barnardo’s CEO - Outcomes for vulnerable adults and children
  • Rob Whiteman, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting CEO - Financial resilience

Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward said: “I’m really looking forward to working with the non-executive advisors, all of whom have a great deal of experience in their particular fields. I’ve always said that improvement never stops and this is a way of taking a fresh look at ensuring improvement is continuous and sustainable.”

Cabinet last week approved the new ‘future assurance’ model and the then-secretary of state wrote to the leader saying he supported the model.

The NEAs will join the Strategic Programme Board and will:

  • be expected to bring independent judgement, external perspectives and advice on issues of strategy, performance and improvement.
  • ensure the board sets challenging objectives for continuing to improve performance
  • constructively challenge and influence the board’s decisions to ensure the council continues to improve in the key areas whilst acting in the best interest of Birmingham residents
  • hold the board to account for the delivery of strategy



NEA Biographies

Max Caller CBE - Improvement Focus Area: Risk Management

Max has extensive experience of leading large local authorities, and particularly in diagnosing poor practice and leading improvement, as well as dealing with complex budgets.

His previous roles in local government include four years as the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Hackney from 2000-2004. During his time there he managed the transition of the authority from the worst in the country to one of the fastest improving.

Before that, he worked for a number of London Boroughs before being appointed Chief Executive of the London Borough of Barnet for 11 years, from 1989 to 2000, where he introduced a cabinet form of governance and a scrutiny system, which was deemed one of the models for subsequent legislation.

He was one of the Commissioners appointed by Government to take over a range of functions of London Borough of Tower Hamlets during 2014-2017 and in 2018 led the Best Value Inspection of Northamptonshire County Council.

In addition, he has been extensively involved in electoral work including:

  • Returning Officer for all classes of elections.
  • The first London Regional Officer for the European Parliament Elections in 1999.
  • Deputy Chief Counting Officer for the Parliamentary AV and Welsh Government additional powers referendums.
  • Electoral Commissioner
  • Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

His political work outside of the UK includes overseeing elections in Albania, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro, and as a Commonwealth observer for elections in Kenya and Ghana.


Donna Hall CBE - Improvement Focus Areas: Good Governance, Culture Change and Peer Support

Professor Donna Hall, CBE is a professor of politics at the University of Manchester. She chairs the New Local Government Network a national think tank on innovative public policy and also Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

For the last eight years she was Chief Executive at Wigan Council and developed the Wigan Deal - a very different social contract with residents. Despite being the third worst cut council in the UK outcomes for residents improved dramatically through investing more in the communities.

She did the same as Chorley CEO through The Chorley Smile for six years and both councils were the best council to work for as part of Best Companies staff surveys with neither increasing general fund council tax during her 14 year tenure.

She was named Northern Power women Transformational Leader of the Year and was awarded a CBE for services to public service innovation in 2009 for her work on the national “tell us once” bereavement service.

Donna was adopted as a child and is passionate about care leavers, communities, the NHS and local government and has been described as “a public service pioneer” by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.


Sean Hanson – Chief Executive, Local Partnerships - Improvement Focus Area: Waste Management and Industrial Relations

Sean has spent over 30 years working for, and with, UK public sector organisations. The first half of his career was spent in local government working in finance-related roles at London Borough of Camden and Fareham Borough Council.

Sean has also worked in the private sector focusing on public/private partnerships and business development. In 2016 Sean joined Local Partnerships from Serco where he was Managing Director of Citizen Services, UK.

At Local Partnerships Sean has concentrated on the development of a broad range of strategic propositions focused on efficiency for the public sector in England and Wales. As well as providing executive leadership to the organisation, Sean sits on a range of Boards as an independent advisor and is involved in a number of programmes where he specialises in commercial negotiations, public/private partnerships, assurance, reorganisation and shared services.

Alongside his experience of central and local government, Sean brings a wealth of knowledge across the public sector, including local government, education, and health. He mentors and advises senior colleagues in other public sector organisations and is Chair of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) in North Bedfordshire. He holds IRRV (Hons) and CIPFA qualifications and is a CIPFA Fellow.


Javed Khan – Chief Executive, Barnardo’s - Improvement Focus Area: Vulnerable Adults and Children

As Chief Executive of leading children’s charity Barnardo’s, Javed leads over 8,000 staff and more than 20,000 volunteers. He is a leading figure in the UK public and voluntary sectors. He regularly advises government ministers, and is a high-profile contributor in the media and at national and international conferences.

Javed is a member of the government’s Independent Grenfell Recovery Taskforce and a non- executive director of an NHS Hospital Trust.

Having grown up in Birmingham, he began his mathematics teaching career in the city, and made rapid progress, becoming head of department, assistant principal and then director of development in a further education college. His career achievements have been recognised through the award of honorary doctorates by Birmingham City University (2015) and the University of Salford (2018).

His previous roles include:

  • Chief Executive at Victim Support
  • Executive Director, London Serious Youth Violence Board
  • Director of Education, Harrow Council


Rob Whiteman – Chief Executive, CIPFA - Improvement Focus Area: Financial Resilience

Rob Whiteman was appointed as the Chief Executive of CIPFA in September 2013. Before joining the Institute, he was a senior civil servant who worked as the Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency and had previously led the Improvement & Development Agency. Between 2005 and 2010 he was CEO of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Prior to this role, he was director of resources at the London Borough of Lewisham.

Rob is a well-known commentator and writer on public service reform and modernisation on a wide range of areas such as leadership, partnership working across local and central government, and building community cohesion. In 2008 he was named one of the ten most influential people in local government by the Local Government Chronicle. In 2007 and 2009 he carried out the Capability Reviews of the Department of Health for the Cabinet Office.

Graduating with a BA (Hons) in Economics and Government from the University of Essex, he started his management career at WH Smith plc, before moving into the public sector.

An accountant by profession, Rob qualified with CIPFA early in his career whilst working at the London Borough of Camden. He has since held several local government finance advisory roles for the Local Government Association and CIPFA, and for many years served as secretary to the Society of London Treasurers.

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