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It’s about knowing what you need to delve into

Date: 12 January 2023

It’s a little after 7.30 in the morning and Geraldine Newbold is beginning her seventh day as our new Diocesan Secretary.

“One thing that has really struck me in the last week is, when colleagues talk about their backgrounds, the breadth of experience and knowledge they bring to their work at the diocese and that there is across the staffing team at Church House. It’s really impressive.

Geraldine is a solicitor by background who qualified in 1999. After a long career working for local authorities she took up a position at the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal in 2016, becoming its CEO and Clerk two years later.Surrey ‘born and bred’, apart from 18 months in Essex, she has spent her entire life living in the county. 

After six years at the Tribunal, Geraldine admits she had “itchy feet’ wanting to give something back to her community. “I’ve always tried to ‘add value’ to all the positions I’ve held,” she says. 

She first saw the vacancy for the Diocesan Secretary advertised last summer. “It looked like a really interesting role. It had elements of everything I’d done in the local authority particularly around safeguarding. But it also brought in a lot of governance, which has been a key aspect of my work as a solicitor.” Sadly the timing wasn’t right for her to make an application. When it was role re-advertised in the autumn it was.

Before taking the job Geraldine admits that she never thought about the make up of the Diocesan office staff or what they did. 

 “I attend church in the diocese and I’ve learnt more in the last week about what Church House Guildford does than I ever knew. That’s interesting because if I didn’t know, even as a previous member of PCCs, how do we ensure everyone knows about all the diocesan office has to offer? I’m just amazed at the work that goes on here.” 

Reflecting on the role after just seven days in post Geraldine says, “It’s as I anticipated. It’s a big job. It’s got lost of strands to it. But it’s a job that’s supported by people with huge amounts of knowledge and experience in their professions and in the diocese itself.”

Geraldine says her immediate priority is to understand the role of Diocesan Secretary. “At present I’m getting a lot of information and I haven’t yet got to the point of working out what the most urgent priorities are. So I can see the big things like Zero Net Carbon, which is a significant national challenge for the Church, and I can see some local things. But it’s too early to say what I want to do.” 

The best piece of advice Geraldine has received was from the Diocesan Secretary on her appointment panel. She was told, “‘It’s about knowing what you need to delve into and it’s not delving into the things you don’t need to. It’s about trusting your colleagues.’ It’s really good advice,” she says.

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