HMRC digital chief Jacky Wright to return to Microsoft

CDIO’s stay will not be extended beyond initially agreed two-year secondment

Credit: Baldo Sciacca

HM Revenue and Customs digital leader Jacky Wright is to leave the civil service on 11 October and return to Microsoft.

Wright (pictured above) joined as the tax agency’s chief digital and information officer in October 2017. She arrived on a two-year “loan arrangement” from the software vendor, where she previously served as corporate vice president for core platform engineering. 

HMRC has announced that the CDIO will not be staying beyond her initially agreed term and will presently be returning to Microsoft. Wright, a native Londoner, will also be going back to the US – where she spent much of her career before joining government. She is to assume a position as chief digital officer of Microsoft’s US business.

The department said, during her time in Whitehall, Wright had “overseen a wholesale transformation” of the digital and IT function and had also “radically changed the employee experience across HMRC” by implementing new technologies and methods.

“Under Jacky’s leadership, HMRC has also embarked on a cloud migration, network and sourcing strategy,” the department said. “Her launch of a data strategy and governance model positions the organisation to effectively develop a core capability for the future.”

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There is, as yet, no information on the appointment or recruitment of a new CDIO, but HMRC said it will “announce succession plans” sometime before 11 October.

Wright said: “I am so proud of all that we have achieved in my two years with HMRC. The digital transformation we have introduced and the new ways of working we have championed have built a solid foundation on which to continue, for both our colleagues and the customers we serve.”

Speaking to PublicTechnology earlier this year, Wright spoke of the importance of digital and technology professionals working more closely with government colleagues in policy and delivery roles.

“I would say we need to do a better job of equipping our people and making sure that they understand how technology can be used to enable them to do what they need to do,” she said. “We’re also deep seated in bureaucracy and policies that may not necessarily be fit for purpose. And because of that, our ability to adopt and consume our technologies in an agile way isn’t always feasible.”

Wright added: “Every stage of the implementation [of policy] requires a digital element. So, digital and IT becomes the axle by which things get done. For me and my team, we have to have the necessary skill sets in every one of those areas to be able to understand and translate and enable each one of those areas from a digital perspective.” 

During her time with HMRC, Wright “recused” herself from any commercial discussions regarding Microsoft products and services. PublicTechnology recently revealed that £112m in contracts signed with the software vendor earlier this year were negotiated and agreed by the department’s chief financial officer Justin Holliday, chief operating officer Rob Woodstock, and the CDIO’s chief operating officer Martin Coombs

HMRC chief executive Sir Jonathan Thompson – who is himself shortly departing the civil service – paid tribute to Wright’s impact during her time in government.

“I am very grateful to Jacky for her skills, expertise and leadership over the last two years,” he said. “Jacky has been a superb leader, transforming our approach to technology, data and digital services. They have been a fundamental part of the changes we have delivered for colleagues and customers. Jacky’s consideration for the impact we have on society and for our responsibility to the customer is clear in all the programmes that she has introduced. We are stronger and more forward-focused as a result of her work. I would like to thank her for her massive contribution and wish her well in her return to Microsoft.” 


Sam Trendall

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