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Experienced public sector leader appointed Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority


Experienced public sector leader appointed Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority

A highly experienced senior public sector leader has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority.

On June 30, the Combined Authority Board voted to approve a unanimous recommendation from the authority’s Employment Committee to appoint Eileen Milner to the post.

Ms Milner is currently Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). ESFA is an executive agency of the Government’s Department for Education and in this national role she is responsible for a budget of some £60bn and has significant delivery and policy responsibilities for the schools system and post-16 education, including apprenticeships.

Prior to this Ms Milner was Executive Director at the Care Quality Commission, the regulator of health and adult social care in England. Her career spans the public and commercial sectors, as well as higher education.

At the June 30 meeting, the Combined Authority Board was asked to note that Ms Milner was subject to due process around agreeing exit from a senior civil service position and to therefore withhold her identity until no later than today (July 14).

Ms Milner is expected to take up her post in the autumn. In the meantime, Joint Chief Executives Kim Sawyer and John Hill continue in their roles.

Eileen Milner said:

I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed into this role. The area covered by the Combined Authority is an extraordinary one, rich in history, talent, innovation and opportunity and I am excited to join an organisation that has such an important remit in respect of making our area the very best place to live, work, invest and learn.”

Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, said:

“The recruitment process for this vital role has been full, transparent and rigorous, was voted for by the Combined Authority Board, and has involved collaboration with council leaders and stakeholders across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I think that the fact we have been able to appoint such an outstanding, experienced individual as Eileen owes a lot to the cooperative approach taken.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Eileen during my term as Mayor and I’m very excited to welcome all of her experience and talent into the organisation. She is a dedicated and determined public servant and will be challenged to help me continue to embed the 3Cs of Compassion, Co-operation and Community in the delivery of our projects and to help improve the lives of everyone in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“I want to thank our Joint Chief Executives Kim Sawyer and John Hill who have been, and continue to be, a fantastic support to me since becoming Mayor, and have been enthusiastic in laying the foundations for the 3Cs within the organisation. They have steered a growing and rapidly evolving organisation as big projects have moved from concept to delivery. It has been no small challenge and they have done a great job.”

Ms Milner has lived in South Cambridgeshire for more than twenty years, is married and has one daughter. She grew up in Cornwall and went to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

There were 33 applications for the role following an executive search by recruiters Penna and supplemented by national advertising. A detailed process of interviews and panels resulted in four candidates being presented to the Combined Authority’s Employment Committee from a long-list of seven.

That process included shortlisted candidates attending Engagement Panels on 7 and 14 June 2021, chaired by lead consultants from Penna and included membership from senior executives from key stakeholders the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, Anglia Ruskin University, the CPCA Business Board, and the Police and Crime Commissioner. The Engagement Panels were tasked with providing independent feedback to the Employment Committee to support the recommendation of a candidate.

Interviews were held with the Employment Committee on June 16. Having considered candidate application forms, reports detailing outcomes of the technical interviews, and the feedback from the Engagement Panel, the Employment Committee agreed unanimously to recommend the appointment of the preferred candidate for the position of Chief Executive to the Combined Authority Board.

The salary for the role is £203,923, a figure benchmarked against other roles of similar responsibility and with the goal of balancing value for money with the ability to attract talented candidates.