Oldham Council’s Chief Executive Dr Carolyn Wilkins has been made an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to Local Government and Public Service Reform.
The 49-year-old has been in post since January 2014 and has led a significant programme of growth and reform through the local authority’s cooperative agenda.
Dr Wilkins is also the lead chief executive role for Greater Manchester on a range of issues including delivering the Complex Dependency programme as part of wider public sector reform, communications and engagement, and the development of a new Greater Manchester Leadership Framework.
She said: “I am thrilled and humbled – and above all somewhat shocked.”
“When I first got the letter about the OBE I had absolutely convinced myself that somebody was pulling my leg.
“I’m only just coming to terms with it as its difficult keeping such a big piece of news from your family, friends and colleagues. I am very glad that bit is now over.
“It is genuinely humbling to get a letter from the Queen and be recognised by your peers. It’s something I never even contemplated, let alone sought or expected to happen to me.
“This also isn’t a reflection all about me – it’s about all the amazing people I’ve had the privilege to work alongside during my time in local government and the public sector.”
Dr Wilkins hails from Leeds and was raised by her parents Carol and Barry in Hornsea, near Hull.
In her early years in local government she worked at councils in Bolton, Trafford, Salford, Crewe and Nantwich and Bury gaining experience in a range of different roles.
She was seconded to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister while at Bury Council and acted as an external adviser to several public bodies.
In 2005 she joined Rossendale Council as deputy chief executive and was promoted to the top job within a year.
Her arrival at Oldham – as assistant chief executive in 2009 – was a natural progression to a metropolitan authority aiming to make a similar transformation.
Carolyn said: “It’s been quite a mazy career journey but I’ve taken something positive and different from wherever and whoever I’ve worked with.
“I’ve learned so many important things and often not the easy way. Local government never stops throwing new opportunities and challenges in front of you and that’s what I love about it.
“In Oldham we’re close to delivering on the biggest programme of physical regeneration it has ever seen, but I also know the job here is about much more.
“Social regeneration – making a positive impact on people’s everyday lives – is even more vital.”
Carolyn’s close family are her husband, Gary, and her two grown-up children. Ben, 23, is currently travelling around Australia after graduating last year and Imogen, 18, is at college studying health and social care.
Carolyn is a member of the 2016 Guardian Public Leaders’ Board and the Municipal Journal (MJ) Editorial Board and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.