Today (10 November) Laura Shoaf has accepted the role of permanent chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). The decision is subject to approval at the WMCA Board later this month, after which Laura will then formally take on the role.
Laura has been the WMCA’s interim chief executive since June 2021, and in that time has overseen the delivery of the region’s first international summit on climate change in partnership with UK100; helped to secure more than £1 billion of Government funding for transport; and led the development of the organisation’s ambitious proposals for a further devolution deal as part of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper.
Prior to taking on the role of interim chief executive, Laura was managing director of Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM). She has more than 20 years’ experience of working in regeneration across the West Midlands.
She joined the Authority when it was formed in 2016, having previously worked at the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and as director of transport for the Association of Black Country Authorities. She continues to chair the Urban Transport Group, which comprises transport leaders from the Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, London, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands and West Yorkshire regions.
Speaking about her appointment, Laura said: “I am proud to call the West Midlands my home, because it’s a place with great people and great potential. I am delighted to be appointed as chief executive of the WMCA where our vision is to help the region unlock its full potential to become more prosperous, better connected, healthier, fairer and greener.
“It has already been a busy few months but there are so many exciting opportunities on the horizon. I am particularly excited to welcome the Commonwealth Games in 2022 as a fantastic opportunity to showcase the West Midlands to the world. We also stand of the eve of our COP26 regional roadshow – an opportunity to come together and discuss how, as a region, we can help with one of the world’s biggest collective endeavours.
“There are some challenges we face where, by addressing them together as a region, we can truly help make a more impactful difference. I want the WMCA to be that great regional partner that helps the West Midlands make a bigger impact in the UK and in the world.”
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “We had some incredibly strong candidates interview for the role, but I am really pleased to offer Laura the role of permanent chief executive. During her time as interim Laura has shown great vision and leadership, and I know in her permanent appointment she will be able to take the WMCA - and the region - from strength to strength.
“Laura’s appointment comes at a difficult time for the region, as we look to recover from the impact of the pandemic and get back to our pre-Covid levels of record employment and economic growth. From helping 100,000 people into work and delivering a world-class transport network, to building more truly affordable homes of the future and tackling the climate emergency, there are plenty of challenges to overcome.
“But with Laura’s appointment I now know we have the leadership in place to tackle these challenges head on.”
Laura Shoaf replaces the previous chief executive, Deborah Cadman, who has been interim chief executive of Birmingham City Council since June 2021.