AA Awards 2008: Public Sector FD of the Year

Mike Suarez, finance director of the London Borough of Lambeth, takes the
award for Public Sector FD of the year, and deservedly so.

Suarez joined Lambeth in September 2005 having already spent four years at
Slough Borough Council, initially as director of finance, before moving onto
strategic director of finance and latterly property and deputy chief executive.
He has worked at Westminster and Southwark councils giving him more than 16
years experience in local government.

The finance director narrowly missed taking home the gong last year when he
lost out to Mark Lumsdon-Taylor from Hadlow College. But this year he has beaten
Pav Ramewal from Sevenoaks District Council, Ken Sutherland from the National
Farmers Union and Peter Kane from the Home Office.

Suarez joined the Borough as executive director of finance where he
transformed various departments. This included a reorganisation of the revenues
and benefits division, which has freed up more than £10m in the councils budget
in the past two years.

He led the council through a campaign fighting a change in capital financing
regulations which caused a technical under provision of £23.25m. Suarez sought
legal advice and took the case to the department of communities and local
government, finally winning the argument after two years. It is considered one
of the best lobbying campaigns among London boroughs in the past ten years.

Suarez has also spearheaded a training programme for tomorrow’s accountants
through CIPFA, which has seen 32 trainees employed in the department, more than
any other London borough.

One of Suarez’s greatest achievements has been his role as founder and board
member of the London Local Authority Insurance Mutual which started in April
2007. The LAML will save the council approximately £500,000 in insurance
premiums in 2008/09.

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