A can-do approach, boundless enthusiasm and an ability to excel in an emergency are just some of the qualities that signalled Mark Broadbent’s potential to his council employers.
He started his career at Calderdale MBC at the tender age of just 16 as a digital apprentice in the IT team. He worked his way up and this 24-year-old local lad is now digital engagement officer. His line manager Stuart Kerray says he has done nothing short of revolutionalise the council’s digital communication offer.
According to his boss, his work ethic, confidence and big picture thinking proved even more indispensable during the COVID pandemic. Stuart believes that with his talent, drive and passion for Calderdale, Mark’s career can go in any direction he wishes, and he is ‘perhaps even a future chief executive’. These are the stellar talents that ensured he snapped up the Rising Star category of The MJ Awards 2021, sponsored by Tile Hill Executive Recruitment.
He says Mark is ‘extremely passionate about Calderdale’ and ‘embodies what it means to be a great public servant’, motivated by a genuine drive to make a difference to residents. His main duties include overseeing the council’s social media, developing engaging content, and full film production from shooting through to editing. He is also involved with staff social media training and with shaping Calderdale’s digital strategy.
Mark’s response to the pandemic included ‘spearheading the digital response through credible social media engagement, hosting live virtual events and council meetings, and producing trustworthy films from medical experts, councillors and religious and community leaders’.
He adds: ‘Mark has a can-do attitude to everything and his performance over the past 12 months has ensured Calderdale MBC’s social media channels have become trustworthy sources of news, updates, and a reassuring arm around the shoulder when our local residents and businesses need it most.’
As a digital apprentice, he says Mark ‘worked hard, listened to advice and was very self-motivated’. Senior members of the communications team quickly began to notice his potential and he was soon snapped up by the team to fulfil the role of e-content and engagement officer. He soon became a key part of the team’s digital engagement. Stuart says: ‘Whether it was producing an urgent film around Calderdale’s flood response, thinking up an innovative social media campaign around community engagement or supporting our chief executive with the council’s vision, he soon built a reputation as a rising star.’
Mark was soon promoted to the role of digital campaigns officer. According to Stuart he made a name for himself for high production value films, including Calderdale’s flagship film We Are Calderdale, ‘and has been an enthusiastic champion of the borough which can be seen in his active involvement with our Vision 2024 communications and Vision 2024 annual event’.
He created a film just days after the major flooding caused by Storm Ciara in February 2020, and within the first few weeks of the pandemic Mark had set up and organised live Q&As, broadcast Cabinet meetings and ensured Calderdale’s social media channels provided a consistent and reassuring message.
The following achievements illustrate Mark’s impact during the COVID crisis:
- Eleven live COVID Q&As with a panel of Calderdale leaders and professionals, streamed for the public from the council’s social media with over 70,000 combined views.
- More than 20 other COVID-19 related films produced with over 132,000 combined views.
Mark’s films include:
- Updates from the leader of Calderdale MBC
- Director of public health
- Community leaders
- NHS professionals
- COVID-19 patients
- First vaccination in Calderdale.
- ‘Keep Being Calderdale’
- COVID-19 remembrance of loved ones lost to the pandemic
- Calderdale LIVE (the entertainment event) had over 15,000 views.
Speaking to The MJ, Mark says that with Calderdale being prone to floods, he has always been used to having to act in an emergency situation. And as the pandemic struck, ‘although we didn’t know the extent of what was about to happen, we just dropped everything and acted in the same way that we were used to’.
He says he ‘definitely thrives when you just have to think on your feet and do the best that you can do in the situation’.
He adds that it was ‘brilliant to meet like-minded people’ at The MJ Awards lunch, and the event gave him perspective on the amount of work that actually took place in local authorities during the first year and a half of the pandemic.
He says he was ‘over the moon’ to receive the Rising Star award, adding: ‘Obviously it’s been a really difficult 18 months for all of us. The whole team has obviously been crazy busy working through the pandemic. So it was really nice to be recognised for the work.’