DIT perm sec Antonia Romeo on getting the department ready to deliver under all Brexit scenarios in 2019

Written by Antonia Romeo on 28 December 2018 in Feature

With the end of 2018 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2019 – and tell us who would turn on their town’s Christmas lights.

What was your highlight of 2018?

DIT’s annual Leadership Conference in September, which brought together the top team from the UK and around the world. After a year of senior recruitment to get a strong top team in place, I found listening to DIT’s leadership discuss working collaboratively to deliver the government’s trade and economic agenda overseas a very powerful moment.

Every year during the conference we hold the DIT Champions Awards ceremony, to celebrate the best of the work that goes on across the department. It’s really inspiring to see and celebrate the achievements, hard work and dedication of DIT staff from all corners of the globe.

What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2018?

Over the last 12 months we’ve been setting up the cross-DIT programme to prepare for EU exit, including trade policy and trade negotiations work, business readiness, and corporate functions support. Establishing a programme that will deliver under all possible scenarios has been a complex process, and I’m pleased with how the department has responded. We now have strong governance and assurance in place to support us in delivering on our important agenda.

What are the main challenges facing your department in the coming year?

After we leave the EU, for the first time in 40 years, the UK will be able to shape its own independent trade policy agenda. The focus of DIT is on ensuring that we are creating a world-class trade policy and negotiations capability which safeguards standards and delivers for everyone across the UK, alongside work to promote and grow exports and inward investment. This will be some of the most challenging work of our careers, but also some of the most exciting!

Which celebrity or historical figure would you choose to turn on the Christmas lights in your town, and why?

Abraham Lincoln, for his radical vision and transformative drive. And Dorothy Parker, for her wit.

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Antonia Romeo
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Antonia Romeo is the permanent secretary of the Department for International Trade

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Louise Haywood-Schiefer
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