ALWEN WILLIAMS is “coming home” to help drive forward the £1bn North Wales Growth Deal.
After 24 years with telecoms giant BT, Alwen will begin a new role as Programme Director for North Wales Economic Ambition Board - which incudes Coleg Cambria and Grwp Llandrillo Menai - in January.
Originally from Gwytherin, near Llangernyw, she is looking forward to leading a Programme Office that will coordinate the Growth Deal from 2020 onwards.
Now living in Mold with husband Damian, Alwen is relishing the challenge and eager to get started.
“It is a big step leaving BT and the private sector after almost a quarter of a century, but this is the right position at the right time,” said Alwen.
“I get to come home after being away for many years. Personally, this has always been home but professionally I’ve been in Cardiff and London for more than a decade so it will be fantastic to return.”
She added: “I’m very excited about the programmes and already feel invested in the vision because I am from the region and determined to help make it a success.
“It matters to me in every sense, particularly boosting the North Wales economy.”
Currently Senior Area Manager for BT Openreach in London and the South East, and previously Director of BT Wales, Alwen says the digital connectivity programme is one close to her heart.
However, the former pupil at Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, Llanrwst, insists every project is of significant value to the six counties.
“In my work with BT I have always been on the private sector side of the table; this role means collaborating with all industries, working to bring about jobs, revenue and having a positive impact on the environment, transport, education and many other areas,” said Alwen.
“The key themes support long-term economic growth, so the challenge is to channel them in partnership with our stakeholders.
“Led by the Ambition Board - which has worked so hard to get to this point – and alongside the UK and Welsh Governments, the sense of collaboration and unity that has been fostered throughout gives us a firm foundation on which to move ahead.”
Alwen is also keen to garner further feedback and consult with myriad arenas and the general public.
“The Growth Deal and wider vision for North Wales is not a one-way dialogue, it’s an opportunity to involve all of the citizens who live here and encourage real discussion on what works for them,” said Alwen.
“North Wales is a great place in which to invest, and as we put the infrastructure of the programmes in place that engagement will be crucial.”
She added: “The £240m committed by the UK and Welsh governments is a small proportion of the overall £1bn ambition, so we will be aiming to garner more investment from the private sector and do so in a strategic way, so we see growth across multiple industries.”
Among the other roles that will make up the Programme Office will be a Digital Programme Manager, an Energy Programme Manager, a Land and Property Programme Manager and an Operations Manager.
They will help to oversee programmes in low carbon energy, advanced manufacturing, land-based industries (agriculture and tourism), land and property, skills and employment, digital connectivity, and strategic transport, which will have a positive impact on tens of thousands of households, businesses and organisations across the region.
“When we have the team in place, we can start to sharpen plans and bring the projects to fruition,” said Alwen.
“We aren’t going cap in hand to businesses, it’s about working together for the economic benefit of the entire region, and future generations.”
She added: “The Ambition Board and I want people to come along with us on this journey.
“There are challenges ahead but I’m passionate about the Growth Deal and confident in the programmes and themes they’ve put forward; there is a fire in my belly, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Dyfrig Siencyn, chair of the Ambition Board and Leader of Gwynedd Council, welcomed Alwen and said she will be an inspiring figurehead for the Growth Deal.
“Alwen has made her mark on the private sector in her many years with BT, and I’m sure she will do the same as Programme Director,” said Cllr Siencyn.
“She is engaging, a strategic thinker and her love for North Wales shines through. I look forward to working with her and on behalf of the Ambition Board would like to congratulate her on this pivotal new role.”