What degree course did you study and when did you graduate?
BSc (Hons) Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Economics major) (2016)
Why did you choose that particular degree course?
When I applied, I really enjoyed what I’d read and knew of Philosophy. Moreover, I felt that studying Politics and Economics would provide a critical grounding for understanding social (scientific) phenomena and comprehending reality. Overall, I preferred the academic breadth and believed that the course would facilitate my development into a well-rounded individual.
Tell us about your employer, your role and what attracted you to them
At the time of writing (September 2023), I’m a Commercial Projects and Governance Manager at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) working on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Before that, still working on PPE, I was a Policy Lead and, prior to that, a Policy and Communications Lead (both at the DHSC) after having been redeployed on the Cabinet Office’s Generalist Fast Stream to work on PPE in June 2020.
I liked my work and the DHSC, so I chose to stay as a ‘Grade 7’ from September/October 2020 onwards after having completed the ‘Fast Stream’. Preceding the DHSC, I was attracted to the Cabinet Office’s Generalist Fast Stream, having joined it in 2017, because of the opportunity to work in a variety of roles and government departments.
What are the key skills you learnt at Warwick that have helped you with your career to date?
The sheer breadth of knowledge I accumulated at Warwick has provided a range of foundational skills that remain conducive to my career progression as a generalist.
What has been your greatest career challenge to date and how did your experience and skills help overcome it?
In June 2020, I was redeployed to the Department of Health and Social Care to work on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Policy and Strategy during the height of the pandemic. Initially, I worked on scaling and enabling distribution of billons of items of free PPE and related stock to primary care and social care providers in England as well as a range of other eligible users (thereby helping to protect millions across our workforce and communities).
Subsequently, I led on implementing a replacement e-commerce platform (‘Portal 2.0’) which is now managed by NHS Supply Chain and for which the project/initiative won an ‘Adobe Experience Makers Award’ (under the ‘Illuminator’ category) in 2022.
By this stage, since 2017, I had worked in numerous government departments and roles across the Civil Service, including multiple policy areas (Financial Services Policy in HM Treasury, EU Exit Customs Policy in HMRC, Product Safety Policy at the then Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rail Franchising Commercial Strategy at the Department for Transport and then PPE at the DHSC), Corporate Services (Business Strategy Development at the Cabinet Office and Capability in the Department for Work and Pensions) as well as Project/Programme Management (at the Valuation Office Agency). As a student, I’d written for think tanks across the political spectrum on a range of areas and topics. Considering my experience and skills in conjunction with my academic background encompassing Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Warwick as well as (Theoretical) Computer Science at the University of Liverpool, I brought a lot to the table.
What ambitions do you have for the future?
Admittedly, things are quite comfortable now. That means I’m naturally yearning for a ‘riskier’ move and change while I weigh up my options in this area – equally, there’s a chance I might end up staying here for life while I deliberate!
What top tips would you give to students looking for a career in your market sector?
If you’d like to work in the UK Civil Service, remember that Civil Service values are honesty, integrity, objectivity and impartiality; Civil Service values are an integral part of being a Civil Servant.
Something else to consider is the value of getting a range of perspectives prior to or while working in any given industry or sector. For instance, before joining the Civil Service on Cabinet Office’s Generalist Fast Stream scheme, I used to write for think tanks across the political spectrum (e.g. the Adam Smith Institute, the Cobden Centre and the Center for a Stateless Society) during both my BSc at Warwick and my MSc in Advanced Computer Science with Internet Economics at the University of Liverpool. I know several colleagues who have also been on external secondments while working in the Civil Service.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?
Don’t be unduly fixated on particular outcomes to the detriment of a holistic, open-minded and flexible approach. I remember I was once very keen to work for the Bank of England; however, in retrospect, working as a Civil Servant and generalist across numerous government departments since 2017 has been much better for my personal and professional development.