Beyond the comfort zone: Charles Lloyd of PWC

PWC partner Charles Lloyd shares his experience of life in Whitehall – and the different style of governments in the Middle East – in a regular Q&A with people who’ve crossed organisational and sectoral boundaries to join a new working world

By Civil Service World

20 May 2015

Charles Lloyd’s father and grandfather both worked for the civil service and, after almost 20 years at PwC advising government on privatisation and outsourcing, Lloyd also found himself in Whitehall, running a team in the Treasury.

Brought in to lead on public private partnerships – a role he held from March 2009 until September 2010 – Lloyd says he was struck by how far HMT’s rhythm was dictated by budgets and Autumn Statements. 

“I guess that’s obvious, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that it would drive so much of what went on,” he says. “A lot of people in government spend a lot of time dealing with things that will impact tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. I suppose if I had one question, it would be: ‘Is enough resource devoted to what’s going to happen next year, or in five, or 20 years’ time?’”

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Lloyd had rather a different experience in 2011 when he became PwC’s head of capital projects and infrastructure in the Middle East. 

“There’s a common theme in the Middle East that you have a long-term plan for your country or Emirate. So there’s an Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision, a Qatar National Vision 2030 and so on. It’s a good thing on the whole, as it encourages governments and institutions to come together and ask: ‘What are we trying to achieve as a country? What’s our competitive advantage?’” 

Lloyd admits, however, that the systems of governance in the Middle East do make it easier to do this. 

“If I’m the ruler of Dubai, I can set up a 2030 Vision and there’s a fair chance I’ll be able to achieve it. If I’m the PM here, I can say what I like, and I might get five, or even 10 years trying to deliver it, but I can be replaced. In some ways they have the luxury of longer, more stable planning horizons.”

None of which is to say Lloyd hasn’t experienced working on long term projects in the UK. He helped set up Infrastructure UK specifically with a remit to have a long-term view, and he’s currently involved with HS2 – “a really interesting interplay between economic growth and infrastructure.” 

With completion of HS2 expected in 2033, Lloyd can rest assured that at least some government policies aren’t slaves to the short-term… 

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