What was your highlight of 2021?
I took up the role of permanent secretary of the Welsh Government in November, following seven years as director general and chief executive of NHS Wales.
It’s a huge honour to lead the organisation that I’ve been part of for so long and to do so in Wales.
When I reflect on the year as a whole, it’s the continued commitment, drive and determination of the Welsh Government, the NHS and our partner organisations that really stands out for me.
Since the start of the global health crisis, there has been a relentless focus on keeping Wales safe, with people stepping up to protect our communities. I’m incredibly proud of all they’ve achieved.
How did your organisation meet its biggest challenges in 2021?
There’s no doubt that the urgency and wide-reaching impact of the pandemic required us to do things differently.
Rightly or wrongly, the civil service can sometimes be perceived as bureaucratic and slow-moving but, over the last 18 months, we’ve demonstrated just how adaptable and innovative we can be in our own practice and actions.
The success of our vaccination programme in Wales and across the UK is a prime example of what can be achieved when we harness expertise across sectors and work together with our partners to find solutions. It’s that collaborative ethos, agile thinking and sense of common purpose that I want to build on throughout the Welsh Government in 2021.
What is your number one priority for 2022?
We have an ambitious programme for government which, at its core, is focused on creating a fairer and greener Wales.
My main priority for next year, and in the years ahead, is to ensure the organisation is in the best position it can be to make that a reality and to make the progress on outcomes that ministers expect.
Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration?
I have worked for 30 years in the NHS and, in my time as a chief executive, opened the only hospital in the United Kingdom named after Aneurin “Nye” Bevan.
Given the roots of the NHS in Wales, I would want to share that time with Bevan and to consider together the extraordinary impact of the NHS on the population for more than 70 years.