A great driver for me is the use of data to enhance the value that government can provide to public services. I moved into government with a strong academic background and was heavily influenced by a post to regulate the statistics produced and published by government. From there it was an obvious next step that the greatest impact I can have is to create trusted, accessible data estates to enable decision making and transparency of government decision making.
A random one – I was part of an international delegation into Sierra Leone after the civil war and spoke with ministers about the need to protect wildlife. On the back of those meetings, we commissioned wildlife surveys and demonstrated a growth in wildlife populations which led to the creation of protected areas for endangered species such as chimpanzees. Of course, it was a data-driven decision.
The sector is full of great people, who are open and supportive. I particularly enjoy the Women in Data events, where they highlight 20 women who have been particularly inspirational in their careers. I love the variety of achievements celebrated and, of course, you don’t need to be the most senior in the office to be the most inspirational.
Many aspects of government were not as expected, with the Brexit negotiations dominating the political agenda. I was pleased to see the Pensions Bill in the Queen’s Speech, reflecting the recognition that a growing ageing population needs to have financial security. It also enhances our remit to support pension savers and ensure a fair pensions market.
Busy, certainty in the markets and a (hopefully) growing economy will lead to greater investment in UK businesses, which will likely create increased demand in data people and technologies.
A common understanding of the power of data to drive business as more UK companies adopt data-effective approaches. I would hope that this will lead to greater investment in skills and capability and further developments in technology to build the sector.
The scale of transformation and adoption of new ways of working across the business will challenge us all, our systems change will affect the entire workforce and those who submit data to us.