British Government appoints new Chief Digital Officer and Chief People Officer

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez July 12, 2022 Audio mode
The new appointments come shortly after the launch of the British Government’s new Digital and Data Strategy.

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The British Government’s Cabinet Office has announced the appointment of two new roles - Mike Potter as Chief Digital Officer and Fiona Roland as Chief People Officer - shortly after the release of its Digital and Data Strategy

The Prime Minister, who last week resigned and is now essentially in a caretaker position until a new leader is chosen, approved the candidates for their new positions, following a full external recruitment campaign. 

Commenting on the appointments, Alex Chisholm, Civil Service Chief Operating Officer and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, said:

I am looking forward to welcoming Fiona and Mike to their new roles, both of which are at the centre of our current Civil Service transformation.

As the new Government Chief People Officer, Fiona will be leading our HR function at a time of huge change, as we work in partnership with Ministers to equip our people to deliver Civil Service reform.  Setting the standard on people issues across the Civil Service is a tremendous opportunity to focus on skills and professionalisation.

As the new Government Chief Digital Officer, Mike will be harnessing the unprecedented opportunities for digital technologies and data across the Civil Service, strengthening UK Government delivery both immediately and in the years to come.

I look forward to working with them both as we continue to reshape the Civil Service to meet our future challenges head on.

Roland will be taking up her role as Government Chief People Officer, having joined from University College London where she was serving as the institution's VP of Operations. Although few details have been released thus far about what her priorities will be, the British Government in recent years has been focused on building up its digital, data and technology professions - in order to bring more skilled capability in-house. 

The recently released Digital and Data Strategy also pointed to embedding a government-wide recruitment standard that reduces average time to hire to 30 days and outlined plans for upskilling civil service professionals in their digital and data credentials. 

Commenting on her new role, Ryland said: 

It is a real privilege to join the Civil Service in this role. I am looking forward to supporting the tremendous work that our teams deliver for people across the UK.

A new CDO

Mike Potter, the newly appointed Chief Digital Officer, takes over from Joanna Davinson in the Autumn, who has served an 18 month term and has been responsible for setting up the new Central Digital and Data Office, which sits within the Cabinet Office. 

Potter was most recently interim Executive Director of Digital Transformation and Group CIO at Thames Water, where he was focused on an extensive change programme. You can read diginomica’s recent interview with Potter about his time at the utilities company here

This isn’t Potter’s first stint in the civil service, however, as he also has previously served as HMRC’s Chief Digital and Information Officer, where he oversaw the end of one of the tax collection agency’s longest outsourcing agreements. During his time at HMRC Potter was also heavily focused on being experience-led, introducing an API-driven architecture and attracting skills to the department. 

Commenting on his latest appointment as Government Chief Digital Officer, Potter said: 

It’s an honour and a privilege to take on the role of Government CDO and I’m delighted to be returning to public service at such an important time.

I’m looking forward to working with colleagues across the civil service to continue to grow the digital skills we need for the future and deliver the roadmap for digital and data.

As noted above, the pair join government shortly after the publication of its latest Digital And Data Strategy, which focuses on five core missions: 

  • Transforming public services to achieve the right outcomes

  • One login for government 

  • Better use of data to power decision making

  • Efficient, secure and sustainable technology

  • Digital skills at scale

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