‘The champion of change’

Malcolm Whitehead is one of those elusive people who work in
interim change management. As an independent social work consultant
he specialises in going into social care organisations, be they
voluntary agencies or local authorities, who need to change their
modus operandi.

Whitehead has been a social work consultant for 11 years and,
although based in Wales, he operates throughout the UK. Typically,
he is hired to work on a specific issue and will spend the week
with the organisation, on call 24 hours a day.

Despite having to live out of a suitcase, Whitehead says it is
worth it. What he likes most about his role is using the skills and
experience he has developed since qualifying as a social worker in
1977 in a range of social care environments. “As people buy
my specific services it enables me to go into an organisation to
undertake specific functions and change things. Because I do that I
am not tied to the structure of the organisation in the way I would
be if I was an employee.”

Practitioners who want to follow the same route need one thing,
Whitehead says: a well-founded, absolute belief in their own skills
and abilities. “You have to be able to prove what your skills
and abilities are again and again.” He also highlights the
importance of strong organisational and time management skills as
independent social workers and consultants are unlikely to have a
secretary to pick up the slack.

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