Leather (again)
Nov 30, 2006
Bishop Hill in Corruption

This piece was originally published on my old site, shortly before I switched to Squarespace. I've reproduced it here in view of Guido's story about the Charities Commissioners looking at the status of Gordon Brown's Smith Institute. (In other words, it's a naked attempt to generate a bit of traffic).

Sometimes you have a dull moment and you just fancy reading something that you know will make you really angry. I usually find the Times "Public Sector" supplement just the job, and last week's edition was no exception.

In it we had a piece about Dame Suzi Leather, the new head of the Charities Commission and, by the by, a woman whose very name can excite paroxysms of delight in readers at Laban's place.

It's not terribly exciting - we learn that she knows nothing about charities, but has a background in regulation. She was born in Uganda and has done some paragliding. But then this appears at the bottom.
1979-84 research officer, Consumers in Europe.
1984-86 trainee probation officer
1997-2001 chair, Exeter and District NHS Trust
2000-02 deputy chair, Food Standards Agency
2002-06 chair, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
2005-06 chair, School Food Trust
Read that again.

She went from being a research officer at an NGO, to training as a probation officer and then, after a gap of ten years was considered suitably qualified to head up an NHS trust. That's a neat trick if you can pull it off.

What on earth was she doing in that ten year gap to suddenly make her top management material? A bit of digging turns up this article which reveals that she was a "homemaker and freelance consumer consultant". So from her published CV she started in her position at the tiller of an NHS trust with no professional management experience whatsoever. This might go some way to explaining the performance of the NHS.

What possible reason can there be for this extraordinary advancement? Perhaps she is just extremely good at interviews or just plain lucky. Perhaps we'll never know.

In unrelated news the Guardian notes:
Dame Suzi, as she has been since January, [is] a committed member of the Labour party.
It's also interesting to compare the press release on her appointment to the FSA to the CV above:
[Sir John Krebs'] Deputy will be Ms Suzi Leather, who has twenty years of experience in consumer representation.
(My emphasis)

Still look on the bright side she says she's going to be robust in making charities submit their accounts on time. Perhaps she'll be dealing with the Moslem Council of Britain who have never actually submitted their accounts since their formation ten years ago.


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