Chief Executive Kevan Collins left his cosy office at the Town Hall for two weeks and worked alongside members of staff, as part of the Channel 4 series Undercover Boss.
He was disguised with a beard and a shaved head as he worked as a trainee pest control officer, a market inspector, Meals on Wheels provider, an enforcement officer and at the reception of the Housing and Homelessness
And the former teacher told the Advertiser the experience left him more determined to save these services as the council prepares to make millions of pounds in cuts over the next three years.
Dr Collins had only been in the job for a few months when he was approached by the TV company to be filmed in February. He said he saw it as a “golden opportunity” to show council staff and the borough in a positive light to the rest of the country.
He was picked up every morning in Bethnal Green Road at 6am and insists that staff believed he was a trainee called Colin and was looking for a change in career because of the credit crunch.
Dr Collins said: “At the beginning I was quite sceptical. But when I got into the swing of it I really enjoyed it.
“I do spend a lot of time anyway out of the office but this time I was with an individual member of staff.
“I would not have had some of the conversations that I had, if they had known I was the chief executive.
“People talk to you about all sorts of things – about their work, their family and their community. It was really refreshing.”
He insists he was left with a “deep abiding appreciation for the staff’s dedication” as well as a better understanding of the council’s services.
He added: “My job is to offer advice to members of the council about possible savings and I am hoping this will improve my advice as it has given me a better understanding of what we do in the borough. It made me see how we should link more services to improve efficiency and it made me more determined to look at it all as a way of helping rather than reducing the services to the most vulnerable as these are the services that are essential.”
The programme will be televised tonight at 9pm.