Meet the Executive Team – Maria Lopez
Maria Lopez is GBSLEP Employment and Skills Manager with responsible for supporting the Employment and Skills agenda across the LEP geography and our Board Director for Improving Skills, Andrew Cleaves.
What is your role?
This is a strategic role that involves developing and managing an approach for employment and skills that will benefit employers and local people. This has involved employment and skills direction and delivery within the City Deal, Strategy for Growth, Growth Deal, the HS2 Growth Strategy, ESIF Strategy and the European Social Fund (ESF), as well as apprenticeship provision.
Key to my role is ensuring that the Employment and Skills Board functions well, with an appropriate agenda and decisions that progress the employment and skills direction and delivery. I help to make sure skills capital is secured from the Local Growth Fund, that ESF calls reflect our LEP area unemployment and skills needs and that jobs and skills outcomes are interwoven into strategies, plans and partnership delivery.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My role is varied and I enjoy the partnership working the most: helping to join up the dots to make sure that mutually beneficial activity is planned and implemented to help the LEP increase their skills levels or reduce unemployment.
I’ve learnt a lot about skills delivery in schools and academies, FE, HE, Private Training Providers along the way. I have also learned the complexities of European Funding and the processes involved and I understand how it can seem a bit daunting at first.
No two days for me are the same. One day I will be working on a key strategic approach, the next, planning for how we engage more businesses with schools to increase work and skills aspirations, then the next, meeting with key national or local delivery partners to discuss how their activity can enable us to meet our skills needs. I am involved in many conversations, research, statistical analysis, and a lot of consideration and planning to bring about a positive outcome that can impact on our LEP employment and skills levels.
What did you study at university and why?
I’m a Geography graduate, but I enjoyed studying and University so much, I also invested in another two years studying post-graduate law and legal practice.
What is your favourite piece of music?
It depends what mood I’m in. I prefer rock, but like some pop music. If I’ve got my iPod earplugs in at work, it means I’m listening to something that blocks out distractions around me so I can concentrate. Any other time, I like to listen to something with some bass or that I can sing along to.
What is your favourite place in the LEP area?
Again that varies. If I’m with my family, it would involve a theme park. Otherwise, I’m a rural person at heart – so anywhere green and preferably with hills and trees, but I do also like to go to music concerts locally.