Ross Cook - Corporate Director at Herefordshire Council
We’ve spoken to people from across the region who are currently completing, or who have completed, an apprenticeship so you can find out more about the opportunities available.
Ross is a Corporate Director of Economy and Environment at Herefordshire Council. Ross' career started with a Youth Training Scheme, which is now known as an apprenticeship. Ross has continued learning whilst earning throughout his career ... read on to find on where he is now, and how he got there!
My early career ...
I left school at 16 with a couple of O levels, and not really sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t find a job over the summer so decided to go back to college, but I soon realised college wasn’t for me. I visited careers advice and learned of the opportunities to both work and study on a Youth Training Scheme (now apprenticeship).
I was given the option to either join the local council or a placement in retail. The idea of working for the local council really appealed to me and I started a placement in their Rates Office (now Council Tax). I started day release studying for a BTEC 1st Certificate in Business and Finance and followed on to a BTEC HNC in Business and Finance.
I was then offered a permanent role with the Council, and they wanted me to continue my studies. After finishing the BTECs, I was offered chance to study for some professional qualifications with the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV). This was a mixture of day release and distance learning, I gained a Technician Grade and then Full Qualification (five years in total).
During my studies, I really enjoyed learning about the legislation that set out what we did and how we did it. I then saw a role working for the Valuation Tribunal (dealing with Council Tax appeals), which involved supporting the Tribunal Members and advising on the law, process and precedents. I worked for the Tribunal for about five years, including a promotion and move to Hampshire. I also had the pleasure of being asked to become a Distance Learning Author and Tutor as part of a refresh of the IRRV courses.
How my career progressed ...
I was seeking a new challenge and saw a role in the local council where I was living, working in Democratic Services. I could see the transferable skills as the role needed someone to advise Councillors on meeting procedures, ensuring papers were issued correctly, and recording the decisions – the same as I was doing at the Tribunal, and so applied and was successful. During my time in this role, I gained a few promotions and became the Service Manager for Democratic Services and Elections.
After a few years, I saw an opportunity for a promotion to a Head of Service role for a Council in Devon, covering the same areas I currently managed, but included Registrars (Births, Deaths and Marriages) and the Lord Mayor’s Office. I also wanted to recommence my studies and so signed up for a course with the Open University (OU), firstly studying for a Certificate in Social Policy and then a Diploma in Sociology.
I then took a role back in my home in Gloucester working with Democratic Services, Scrutiny and Elections, as well as an opportunity to start working in Community Development and Engagement, using the knowledge I had gained through my OU studies. This turned into a variety of different roles and I became the Head of Housing and Neighbourhood Services.
I was subsequently promoted to become Corporate Director, covering a wider range of services, and responsibility of overseeing Gloucester’s four Rugby World Cup matches and events.
I saw the next move in my career to work for either a Unitary or County Council, and was successful in an application to become Director of Environment with Wolverhampton City Council, covering the same services I looked after in Gloucester, with the addition of Highways and Transport. Following a restructure the role became Director of Housing and Environment, and I also took on the Visitor Economy role.
Where I am now ...
In February 2022, I then moved to Herefordshire Council as Corporate Director for Economy and Environment.
As you can see, throughout my career I have always continued with my studies and as well as formal qualifications, I have engaged in a number of Management and Leadership Development Programmes.
From leaving college with just a few O levels, I have really focused on continuous development and learning, and taking opportunities to move to new roles wherever possible.
You can find out more about the roles Herefordshire Council have available, and more information about them as an employer on their hub here!
To hear from more apprentices and view the current apprenticeship opportunities throughout the West Midlands visit our Apprenticeship Hub today!