Skip to main content
Civil Service

How to give 120% through an EU negotiation in a pandemic

There are multiple advantages of job sharing. ©Anna Shvets

It's easy. Job share! say Claire Dartington and Marie-Anne Barnes who share the role of Deputy Director, European Finances, HM Treasury. 

The EU budget is hard to understand at the best of times. The product of hard negotiating amongst 28 countries over a seven-year budget of over €1 trillion is always going to be complicated. And no doubt it will remain as complicated in the UK's absence.

We now enter a new phase where the UK will participate in a small number of EU programmes which we and a cross departmental team spent most of 2020 negotiating with the EU. Horizon, the EU's science programme, Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme, and Euratom, the EU’s programme for nuclear research and training. UK users will be also be able to continue to access EU Space Surveillance and Tracking services

Whilst the EU programmes negotiation was just a small part of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, it was a positive element for both sides.

Running the EU budget, implementing the Financial settlement and negotiating the UK's future participation in EU programmes as a Deputy Director job share has been a real experience.

We like to think that we have proved to all the raised eyebrows that Deputy Director job sharing really works in HM Treasury international roles, and are really grateful to our Director David Lunn and Director General, Mark Bowman in supporting us.

Mythbusting on job sharing

Myth: fast-paced ministerial and EU/international facing roles can't be effective as job shares.

Fact: we successfully delivered intense, fast-paced daily EU negotiations over more than 9 months meeting the Prime Minister’s negotiation red lines. And the jobshare brought real resilience through an exhausting and uncertain time.

Myth: It's too confusing for stakeholders to have to deal with two people in one job.

Fact: They tend to remember us better because there's two of us, and the EU Commission told us at the end that they were surprised by how seamless we had been.

Myth: It’s too confusing working for/managing two people.

Fact: Ask our team European Finances - we hope they will say that we got most of it right and set a good example for flexible and supportive cross-team working.

Claire and Marie-Anne's tips for job sharing:

Our top tip is to trust each other implicitly – it’s really important to support each other and to be able to handover your work for the other person to take forward each week.

Be clear with your team and stakeholders how your partnership will operate – job sharing comes in many forms so clarity on ways of working helps everyone involved, and seeking regular feedback on how your partnership is going.

Two minds can be better than one - policy development is often richer for incorporating two different perspectives and more robust to challenge, so embrace this.

Be super organised – our model of job sharing involves handing over to each other twice a week, it’s important to handover thoroughly (this becomes easier as the partnership develops)

Finally, it’s important to have fun – an effective job share can be incredibly rewarding, both in terms of developing careers and maintaining work life balance.

Working together in a job share has been fantastic over the last few years. We know there are many other successful job share partnerships across the Civil Service. If you're thinking about job sharing, just do it. It's brilliant.

Sharing and comments

Share this page