Louise Smyth, chief executive of Companies House, discusses the value of the organisation’s information and its plans to reform the companies register
The annual perm secs round-up published by PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World sees Whitehall’s senior leaders open up on their biggest challenges and opportunities – as well as their remembrances of Christmases past. Here, Companies House head Louise Smyth looks back on 2019 and ahead to another year of transformation.
What was your highlight of 2019?
I have seen a step change in the way people view the value of the Companies House Register, which recent research has estimated to be up to £3bn of benefit to the economy. Cross-government collaboration exploiting our data is beginning to yield real results in the fight against economic crime. Our data is also used extensively across the economy to support a strong business environment and quality financial decisions. Six billion searches of our data in the last year are testament to the value people place on it.
What has been the most significant change in your organisation this year?
I am proud of the progress we have made to change our culture, which is central to the success of our ambitious transformation. We want our people to flourish and they are doing that by being adaptable, bold and curious which means we are constantly challenging ourselves to be better – so that we can provide brilliant services to our customers. There is a major digital element to our transformation but it is the people who are going to make the change happen, so having the right culture is vital to our success.
What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?
Proposals to reform our register have attracted huge interest and, if implemented, will represent a significant shift in the way we work. This, combined with our already ambitious transformation, adds up to a lot of change. We will need to prepare carefully, work at pace to deliver and take people with us. A lot of the building blocks for this are already in place but I don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge to deliver this at the same time as maintaining our service standards. Maintaining energy and focus in the leadership team will be vital.
Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth…
My favourite festive memory is sitting together as a family on Boxing Day afternoon watching a film. There wasn’t much choice then as we only had three channels, but it did mean we all stayed together – there are some benefits to only having one television and no devices.