'There has been a huge collective effort across government to do things differently': Projects chief Nick Smallwood looks back at 2021

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority chief exec tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid while pushing ahead with new challenges
Nick Smallwood

By Civil Service World

22 Dec 2021


What was your highlight of 2021?

My highlight of 2021 would have to be the government’s Project Delivery Conference, which was organised by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. This conference included a diverse range of speakers from across government showcasing best practice in project delivery. 

The conference also included the first ever Government Project Delivery Awards – it was great to recognise the hard work and dedication of project delivery professionals and celebrate excellence in project delivery.

The winners of the Covid Response Award –  the Vaccine Taskforce – were a particular highlight. The work they have done to secure and rollout vaccines for the citizens of the UK has been nothing short of inspiring.

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2021?

There is no doubt that delivering projects in the context of Covid-19 has continued to be a big challenge for the IPA and other government departments. 

The pandemic has made our work even more urgent and it has been crucial that projects are undertaken with the best chance of successful delivery.

While it has been a challenging year, project delivery has really been recognised as a powerful catalyst for economic recovery and renewal. I am incredibly proud of the way colleagues have responded and adapted to support projects that are changing lives and leaving a lasting legacy right across the country. 

What is your number one priority for 2022?

Over the past year, there has been a huge collective effort across government to do things differently when it comes to project delivery, and continuing to drive this forward is a priority for me. 

We must continue to implement key reforms across project delivery to ensure that we are effective against our ambitions. This includes accelerating investment in major project expertise and leadership skills to enable us to deliver better, faster and greener. 

I am really looking forward to the rollout of the Government Projects Academy, which will transform the way the government trains and accredits project delivery professionals. People should always be at the forefront of everything we do – and the academy will empower people to invest in their development, learning, career and future.  

Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration?

What a question – that could be a multitude of folks. If I had to, I guess I would pick Bruce Springsteen – having seen him in concert, he sure knows how to perform and the atmosphere was amazing. 

Share this page