Russell Reynolds Associates Seeks CEO for U.K. Government Digital Service 

October 21, 2020 – Russell Reynolds Associates has been retained to find the next chief executive officer for the U.K.’s Government Digital Service (GDS), which oversees digital transformation and innovation strategies for all of the nation’s government.

“The CEO will combine technical excellence and proven delivery experience to set the vision and implementation strategy for GDS,” said Alex Chisholm, chief operating officer for the U.K.’s Civil Service. “They will consolidate and build upon the service offering to develop GDS’s reputation as the world’s foremost user-centered government digital product specialist. This is a critical role at the very center of government.”

“For an experienced leader, there is no working environment more exciting, more challenging, or more rewarding than government, and perhaps no more important time for public service,” said Mr. Chisholm. “We have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people.”

The CEO of GDS is a director general level post, and will be responsible for vision and strategy and overseeing the design and delivery of common components, platforms and services that will transform the operation and improve millions of citizens’ everyday experience of government, said Russell Reynolds Associates. These include the GOV.UK communication portal, identity, validation, payment and other current and future services that are most effectively delivered centrally across government.

Key Responsibilities

The CEO will also be responsible for the continued operation of the Vulnerable People Services, a key part of the U.K. government’s shielding program in response to COVID-19.

The individual will report to the newly established government chief digital officer, a permanent secretary level-post situated at the Cabinet Office.

The main responsibilities of the CEO will include: creating and implementing a vision and strategy for the delivery of common components, products and platforms that meet departments’ diverse needs and citizens’ growing expectations; assuring and overseeing the implementation of technical strategies that will deliver robust, scalable and elegant products that will transform government services; promoting the adoption of existing GDS products and services across government and the wider public sector and work with peers in departments to identify opportunities for new innovations; and overseeing the GDS budget.

U.K.’s Civil Service wants an inspiring and talented senior leader with a proven track record in digital transformation and service delivery, said Russell Reynolds Associates. Candidates should be passionate about technology and tackling some of society’s hardest problems through the application of innovative products and technologies.

Leading Teams

Prospects must show deep experience in leading teams that develop, deliver and run digital products to scale in complex private or public sector organizations, said the search firm. Also needed is significant software development and infrastructure architecture experience in designing large scale digital services around user needs. A demonstrable track record of leading and inspiring cross functional teams, attracting top talent, building engagement and leading change effectively in a complex context is further required. Candidates should also have experience in leading or contributing to major programs of complex, organization-wide change, delivered at pace.

Other requirements include: a clear understanding of new and emerging technologies and the opportunities they provide to improve the delivery of public services in the U.K.; being a champion of user-centered design, with a deep understanding of user behavior; expertise in multiple technologies across software engineering, security, data interchange and data management; and a strong understanding of the practical application of agile development methods and leading delivery teams in an Agile, Lean and/or a Continuous Delivery environment.

Russell Reynolds Associates’ public sector, trade and associations practice group serves a wide variety of public sector and not-for-profit organizations, related public bodies, regulators and government-owned companies. It also fills the executive leadership needs of global charities, healthcare providers and local government and trade associations.

The firm’s consultants have extensive experience with recruiting, developing and advising exceptional board members, CEOs and specific senior functional leadership for non-profit organizations around the world. The firm also conducts in-depth organizational culture assessment and measures the cultural fit of key leadership and candidates in the following areas: arts and culture, global development, higher education, non-profit health and human services, public sector, social justice and advocacy, as well as trade and professional associations.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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