As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories
What was your highlight of 2019?
2019 has been an exciting year for the commercial function. Firstly, I am immensely proud of the often relentless work of every member of the function across all departments to enable government policy to be delivered. One of the specific highlights was the implementation of the in-house commercial policy on prompt payment. There will now be a direct consequence for those suppliers not meeting the prompt payment standard. They will lose out on government business if they aren’t paying their supply chain on time.
What has been the most significant change in your organisation this year?
Standing up teams to deal with Brexit in addition to all the other pressures has stretched the function. We have come through this supporting some high-profile issues, such as freight capacity drugs supply, and any number of complex IT needs. We have also stood up Yellowhammer response teams on three occasions and I am confident we have solid, well-tested plans for the future.
Standing up teams to deal with Brexit in addition to all the other pressures has stretched the function.
What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?
Not wanting to be too obvious in the middle of a general election, but reacting to and delivering the needs of a new government in December and onwards in 2020, particularly if that involves significantly more insourcing.
Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth…
I used to be a magician; my partner and I did a couple of shows at the Albert Hall; dressed up as Father Christmas. We’d built ourselves a sleigh full of all the gear; magically appearing pigeons, dancing cane Christmas trees. The shows went pretty well, but the most memorable moment was driving home afterwards, still in make-up, with the sleigh on the roof of my Ford Fiesta, when we were run into by a very surprised John Cleese; he gave us a great “Mad Python” look before disappearing.