‘Huge honour’: Susanna McGibbon reflects on her first year as GLD chief

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The GLD perm sec tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid while pushing ahead with new challenges
Susanna McGibbon. Photo: GLD

By Civil Service World

31 Dec 2021


What was your highlight of 2021?

Of course, it has to be my appointment as Treasury solicitor and permanent secretary of the Government Legal Department. It is such a huge honour to be asked to lead an organisation of talented and committed colleagues who go the extra mile every day to serve our fellow citizens. Whether it’s drafting Covid regulations or negotiating new trade deals, defending litigation challenges or helping ministers deliver the UK’s ambitious legislative programme, our teams have been at the heart of the Covid response, as well as delivering on the government’s priorities of levelling up, economic recovery and Global Britain. 

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

I have to pay tribute to the sheer hard work done by colleagues across the department to ensure that we have responded to the very challenging delivery demands. We have also kept our eye on the future – reaffirming our strategic priorities and incorporating the lessons we have learned during the pandemic. 

Our inclusive approach to designing our future ways of working has seen us engage extensively with our teams and networks so that we can harness the benefits of flexibility whilst resuming the valuable interaction of in-person working.

"Resourcing remains our biggest challenge and demand continues to increase, so tackling that is a priority"

What is your number one priority for 2022?

Resourcing remains our biggest challenge and demand continues to increase, so tackling that is a priority; helping our teams to emerge from crisis mode and provide sustainable high-quality legal support for the government’s key priorities. 

Part of the answer will be meeting our ambition to grow outside London. We have increased our space in Wellington Place, Leeds, to provide opportunities for existing staff and to attract talent from a wider geographical base – so I hope to reach full capacity there, further establishing the Government Legal Department as a truly national organisation.

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

As I’m hoping to be in Seville for New Year’s Eve, it would be wonderful to catch a performance by La Niña de los Peines – thought to be the most important flamenco singer of the 20th century. 


Leadership Legal
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