As Head of Programme and Project Delivery at the Ministry of Justice, I am responsible for all construction and maintenance project work within prisons, courts, and probation, headquarters and administration buildings.
It's an important role, because without an efficiently run estate we would not be able to deliver UK justice to the standard that society expects and do so economically.
I trained as a chartered structural engineer and worked in private practice before joining the Civil Service some 23 years ago. Since then, I have been given the opportunity to develop other skills, including those needed to be a good leader. Not only this, I have had the chance to put the learning into practice and to progress, so that, as Head of Programme and Project Delivery, I am directly responsible for about 60 staff. I am also Deputy Head of the Estate Directorate, with around 300 staff, under the Director, Janet Young.
In these roles, I am responsible for £350 million of public money per year. It would be really important at any time to get as much for this as we can, but particularly now. It's also essential that we work closely with our operational colleagues to make sure the facilities we provide allow them to do their jobs as effectively and safely as possible.
Some of these facilities, of course, accommodate those who have been sent to prison.
Back into work
One of the main aims of our justice system is to turn people's lives around when they are imprisoned. Our facilities have to strike the right balance between being safe and of a decent standard, and providing opportunities for prisoners to get the education and skills training that will help them back into work when they leave prison. This can help reduce reoffending, which in turn helps the UK budget by reducing the amount of money we spend on keeping prisoners in custody, on trials, and so on.
The management of estates spans many areas – construction, sustainable development, reducing energy use and carbon consumption, estate investment strategy, operational facilities management, and more. All are vital in creating an efficient operation that ensures we achieve the best result for every pound of taxpayers’ money we spend.
The built environment we provide plays a really important part in making the UK justice system the envy of the world. To be a part of that is extraordinarily rewarding. To be leading a group of people who also believe it, is even better.
Celebrating the best
Every year, the Civil Service celebrates the best of what it does through the Civil Service Awards. This year, the MoJ Estate Directorate Programme and Project Delivery Unit won the Programme and Project Management Award. This was a fantastic accolade. Specifically, it was recognition of our work in providing a new £19 million houseblock and education centre at Cookham Wood young offender institution in Rochester. We did this while offering a 20 per cent cost saving and completing the project six weeks ahead of schedule.
I happen to believe the UK Civil Service is the best in the world - and to be part of a team that are the best at what they do is immensely fulfilling.
When anybody asks me if they should consider a career in the Civil Service, my answer is always an emphatic ‘yes’. It’s diverse, challenging, fun, provides a wide range of opportunities and, above all, what you do matters and can make a real difference to people's lives. There aren’t too many other careers you can say that about.