Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Nigel Hiller, Director of Resources

Nigel Hiller is the Director of Resources for South Yorkshire Police

Nigel was a regional trainee for Trent Road Haulage Association based in Derbyshire. Having passed his exams in 1983 just before qualifying, he became a Unit Accountant for Rotherham Housing Association and sat on the management teams for Community Health and Elderly Services. 

In 1985, Nigel moved to local government at Bolsover District Council and took several roles, including the deputy Chief Officer role. In 1995, Nigel became Director of Finance for South Yorkshire Police, where he has remained since.

Throughout his career, Nigel has undertaken voluntary activity for CIPFA through serving on the Council and chairing the Financial Management Panel.

Why did you choose accountancy as a career?

I fancied a career in computing and was going to Manchester University to do Computer Science and Accountancy. As computing was so new I thought it would be helpful to back it with a profession. I then did the crossword in the Sheffield Star and saw the NHS recruiting for regional finance trainees. I applied and got the job and my university place on the same day. At that point I realised I could qualify so much quicker so I took the job.

Why did you choose to work in public services?

I chose public services because of the training opportunity I was offered with the NHS. and at the time (1979) public services were seen as inefficient. I liked the idea of leading the transformation of more cost effective services.

What’s your specialism? Can you give us a brief overview of your role?

For almost 20 years I was a Finance Director for South Yorkshire Police and latterly Humberside Police. I play a key part in the effective running of the organisation and setting the strategy. As well as finance, I lead on IS/IT, myself and my IT Director successfully merged HP/SYP IS four years ago along with, procurement for four police forces and estates/facilities management.

Why did you choose to become CIPFA certified?

The NHS scheme chose CIPFA for me. What I liked about it at the time was the block release we used to get to go to college (Nottingham Trent University) where we stayed away from home. It was great fun but you also learnt so much about life in a hospital.

How does the CIPFA qualification help you in your day-to-day tasks, as well as long-term?

The CIPFA qualification helps me because it was relevant training for the roles I have undertaken. The Continued Professional Development (CPD) opportunities are first rate and CIPFA’s professional networks provide me with timely topical briefings.

Do you believe that your CIPFA qualification has created opportunities in your career?

I think CIPFA is not only an accountancy qualification, but also a management and leadership one. This made me really well prepared for the roles I undertook. It taught me to write reports, the project to write business cases and undertake true option appraisal.

What do you like most about your CIPFA membership?

CIPFA is a family organisation where members you have only just met will help you – nothing is too much trouble. When I applied for the police role, I contacted CIPFA and was put in touch with a CIPFA member in Thames Valley Police who briefed me fully on current police issues – this gave me confidence for the interview.

What advice would you give current students who are looking to pursue a career in public finance?

You need to have character, be loyal to your employees and those who mentor you and have endeavour. You need to work hard and always be willing to say ‘Yes, I will do that’. Be hungry for learning but also have modesty and recognise those who have more experience than you. That’s what Geoff Hopkinson taught me – But you also need to have some fun and always have a smile on your face.