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?
My highlight was becoming a perm sec and joining DfID in January. Joining the team of perm secs has been a hugely rewarding experience, at a crucial time for our country. DfID is an energising and inspiring place to work, full of staff driven by our mission of reducing poverty around the world.
What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2018?
The hardest single issue was getting the whole aid sector out of the crisis sparked by revelations about what happened with Oxfam in Haiti. DfID has hosted two safeguarding summits, at which the sector has come up with some far-reaching commitments to make sure we all genuinely have zero tolerance for any sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment.
What are the main challenges facing your department in the coming year?
For DfID, like the whole of the civil service and country, 2019 will be the year of Brexit. It will be a test of the brilliance of the civil service, and of our DfID values – confidence, courage, collaboration.
Which celebrity or historical figure would you choose to turn on the Christmas lights in your town, and why?
Alexander Hamilton, now the subject of a brilliant musical. Why? Because he would have some great stories about the American Revolution.