‘The year of innovation’: Why 2023 left government chief people officer Fiona Ryland astonished

Fiona Ryland says she was astonished by the ingenuity and innovation of colleagues
Automated recruitment processes have impressed Ryland. Photo: Adobe Stock

By CSW staff

08 Jan 2024


Tell us three words that sum up your 2023...  

Resilience. People. Innovation.

...And why you chose those words   

Resilience: In my first year here I have been struck by how many difficult challenges our teams across the civil service have to respond to on a daily basis. I have been so impressed by the resilience and care everyone has shown. Being able to watch teams collaborate, achieve great things, and adapt to uncertain circumstances has been truly inspiring. 

People: I know it sounds cliché that the chief people officer of the Government People Group would pick a word like “people”, but I really can’t leave it out. After all it is people that make the work we do so important, and witnessing the positive impact of our work on civil servants' lives is the basis of GPG. Not to mention, starting my new role last year and bringing the Government People Group together from different departments has allowed me to meet so many amazing colleagues. Forging these new relationships has to be a personal highlight of my year. 

Innovation: We often hear about impressive technological advancements, like AI, which have the potential to transform our lives. What truly astonished me in 2023 was the ingenuity and innovation of many of my colleagues in quickly incorporating these new tools into their work. Just last month, our recruitment transformation programme started using robotic automation in our background checks process in order to speed up and streamline our recruitment process. We now have three fully automated processes enabling us to complete these checks 70% faster and at a much higher accuracy than before. Innovations like this, which make a tangible, positive difference are what I’d like to see continue into the next year. 2023 really was, in my eyes, the year of innovation and I look forward to continuing to build on that in 2024. 

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024?   

Shortly, we are due to release our people plan, which will provide a solid, strategic direction for our people as we go into 2024. A huge part of this plan is the focus on upskilling and training public servants to face the challenges and opportunities 2024 will bring. 

AI will bring sweeping changes to the way we work and therefore it is absolutely essential that we offer meaningful training to civil servants, both in utilising new tools and in how they can adapt these tools to achieve our long-term objectives. 

It’s also essential we get our pay and reward strategy right. We need to strike the right balance between delivering value to the taxpayer, while still attracting the top talent that the civil service needs, and the public deserves.  

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’? 

My favourite festive treat has to be anything chocolate and far and away the ‘Bah, humbug” is Christmas Cake: I’ve just never liked dried fruits! 

This is part of CSW's annual perm secs roundup. Read all the entries to the 2023 roundup here

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