John Manzoni on 2018: The civil service has been buffeted from every angle but has admirably kept its course

Written by Civil Service World on 14 December 2018 in Feature
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.

Photo: John Manzoni addresses the Governemnt Digital Service in March

What was your highlight of 2018?

Civil Service Live is always a highlight. I was fortunate to attend every event this year and really enjoyed meeting such a diverse range of colleagues from right across the country. I’m always inspired by the enthusiasm colleagues in every department have for their work and their commitment to learning and development opportunities such as CSL, which are an integral part of our vision for A Brilliant Civil Service. There are few better reminders of why it’s such a privilege to be a part of the civil service leadership team.

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

It has been a turbulent year, during which the civil service has admirably kept its course, navigating all manner of obstacles, despite being buffeted from every angle. This includes the recent death of our brilliant colleague, Jeremy Heywood, whose leadership, inspiration, advice and friendship are missed by us all.

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

The primary challenge will of course be about balancing the demands of implementing our exit from the European Union, while ensuring we continue to drive delivery against the government’s wider priorities and make further progress with our own transformation. If the last few years have taught us anything, however, I am confident that whatever challenges are thrown at us – including the unexpected – the entire civil service will rise to them.

“I’m always inspired by the enthusiasm colleagues in every department have for their work – there are few better reminders of why it’s such a privilege to be a part of the civil service leadership team”

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

As an engineer myself, I think it has to be Nikola Tesla – without whom the lights might not have worked at all!

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