Department for International Trade floats £120k for new digital chief

New director of digital, data and technology skills expected to set future digital strategy in the department leading on post-Brexit trade deals

The Department for International Trade is offering up to £120,000 for a new director-level hire tasked with boosting the fledgling ministry’s digital, data and technology skills.

DIT, led by international trade secretary Liam Fox, is one of the youngest Whitehall departments, having been set up in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in mid-2016.

It has the explicit aim of boosting Britain’s exports and leading on any post-Brexit trade deals, although it remains one of the five smallest central government departments, employing around 1,200 staff as of September last year.

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The department is now on the hunt for a new director of digital, data and technology, with the senior leader expected to “develop and deliver the department’s digital agenda across UK and international platforms”.

According to a person specification shared by the DIT, the director will have a high degree of responsibility and a wide remit, answering directly to the DIT’s chief operating officer Catherine Vaughan. 

As well as managing legacy contracts and overseeing a team of 120 civil servants and contractors, they will be expected to set the department’s overall direction of travel in technology, carrying out work to ensure the DIT has “the right architectures and systems” in place for the future.

The ad makes clear that the new hire will play a key role in building up digital skills among the department’s workforce, stating that the successful candidate will lead “the recruitment and embedding of a sustainable digital capability across the department, and a complementary culture change strategy to wide staff awareness of digital approaches and tools”.

They will also be expected to act as the department’s head of profession for digital, data and technology, the specification reveals, and will oversee what the DIT calls the “flexible, cost effective transformation of the department’s technology estate”.

Outlining the appointment, Vaughan – who was only herself brought into DIT in September 2017 after two years at HM Land Registry – hailed the “unique and exciting opportunity” to join a department which is focused on Britain’s post-Brexit future.

“While not directly involved in the trade negotiations, the team you will lead will have a role in supporting this work by providing the appropriate infrastructure and digital platforms to make negotiations successful,” she said.

Vaughan added: “You will need to engage and collaborate with a range of stakeholders across the department and wider government to ensure DIT’s digital solutions reap real business benefits.”

The DIT said it is looking for someone with demonstrable experience of delivering “transformational digital change to business processes”, and said that previous experience of working with government or the public service will be “highly desirable”.

External candidates can expect to command around £120,000 a year for the Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2 role, and those interested in applying have until February 19 to throw their hat into the ring. Final panel interviews are slated for the end of March.


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