Steffi Nolan, Project Officer, Delivery

"I feel like the work I do is making a difference to our region and being from West Yorkshire that means a lot... It is an exciting place to be working at, with such a variety of projects going on."

Can you tell me about your career background, progression and how you feel that has prepared you for the job you currently do?

I first started at the Combined Authority in July 2018, and I am now working in my third role for the organisation. Starting in an administrative role, I was then promoted to a Programme Assistant and have recently secured a position as a Project Officer. Before working for the Combined Authority, I had worked across a variety of roles, but picked up some good core transferable skills. After graduating with a degree in History I initially worked in Housing on Welfare Reform. From there I began training as a nurse, before unfortunately having to take a break due to ill health. From there I began doing administrative work on a part time basis, before securing a full-time position. Along the way I learnt a lot about the different systems different organisations and sectors work with and gained a good understanding of working with a variety of people. In the year that I was in my Programme Assistant role I was lucky enough to pick up a lot of experience and get involved in a range of different things going on around the organisation. Throughout my career experiences one thing I have learnt is that no experience is bad experience, so many different skills can be picked up in places you wouldn’t expect.

What does your job involve and what do you enjoy about it?

I work in the Delivery Directorate on the TCF Programme. My role focuses on the future governance of the programme and setting up the structures that will ensure the programme is delivered to time and with quality. I am also leading on the initial funding for the districts, establishing a claiming process and getting legal funding agreements signed. This funding will allow our partners to get a valuable head start on work before the funding announcement is made. I really like the variety that comes with my role, and it is a great time to join the team as we can get processes in place that will work best going forward. I get to work with a range of people across the organisation and out in the districts, which means I’m learning new things all the time.

How do you find working alongside your team and the wider directorate?

A big benefit of working in our team is the amount of support you get from colleagues. There is always someone on hand to discuss a problem or celebrate a success with! The directorate is so friendly, and everyone is approachable and willing to help. I have learnt so much from going to colleagues with queries and listening to their expertise. There is so much knowledge within the directorate, and it is a real privilege to be able to tap into that.

What training / learning opportunities have you taken part in whilst at the Combined Authority?

I have been lucky to go on quite a few different courses, including CDM and NEC. I will be completing my PRINCE2 Foundation in the coming weeks. Part of my previous role was to organise Learning Lunches for our directorate and across the organisation. This informal training has been valuable, and I have picked up information on a range of topics including Agile Project Management, Procurement and Consultation & Engagement. Something I have noticed at the Combined Authority that there are a lot of people interested in learning more, and a lot of people with expertise who are generous with their time, a great combination!

What do you like most about working for the Combined Authority?

I feel like the work I do is making a difference to our region and being from West Yorkshire that means a lot. With being on TCF from the inception of the delivery team has meant that we can ensure the right processes are in place to get the best out of the funding we receive. It is an exciting place to be working at, with such a variety of projects going on to be able to find out about and get involved in. There are also so many interesting and friendly people, which really helps! I have never felt that I couldn’t go to a team member or manager with an issue or for help with work. That support is invaluable. Working in an office right in the centre of Leeds is also a big bonus, along with the benefit of the MCard to get me to and from work. The opportunity to be able to regularly work from home and having flexi time is also a huge help for me with balancing work and home priorities.

Imagine you could go back in time to when you first started in your current role – what tips/advice would you give yourself?

To have the confidence to ask more questions – there will always be someone who can help you find the answer! I haven’t been in my current role very long, and I am still having to remind myself regularly that it is ok not to know everything!

"I feel like the work I do is making a difference to our region and being from West Yorkshire that means a lot... It is an exciting place to be working at, with such a variety of projects going on."

Steffi Nolan Project Officer