GDS recruiting for quartet of senior-management positions

Digital agency seeks CTO, COO and directors of engineering and publishing

Credit: Max Pixel

The Government Digital Service is recruiting for a quartet of senior-management positions.

The four roles up for grabs are: chief product and technology officer; director of publishing; deputy director, head of engineering; and chief operating officer.

Reporting directly to GDS chief executive Tom Read, the chief product and technology officer position comes with a responsibility to lead a newly created directorate. The chosen candidate will be tasked with providing “outstanding delivery-focused leadership to a committed group of product and design, engineering, and cybersecurity professionals”, according to the job advert.

This role comes with a salary of up to £130,000 a year – as does the opening as director of publishing, for which the postholder will “be responsible for the GOV.UK website and its associated publishing tools including their ongoing maintenance and development”.

The successful applicant will assume direct leadership of about 200 GDS employees and will also have “further influence and reach across a community of 2,000-plus publishers across government”.

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“You will set the vision and strategy for GOV.UK in line with the GDS strategy, ensuring work across product and content delivery teams is aligned and producing value for users and government,” the advert added.

The head of engineering, who will earn up to £105,000 per year, will “corporately own the joined-up strategy and accountability for technology and security in GDS”. This will involve leading and overseeing the work of about 150 staff members employed in engineering, architecture, and cybersecurity roles.

The chief operating officer, meanwhile, will assume the leadership of “day-to-day operational running of GDS”. This will include managerial responsibility for the digital agency’s relationships with HM Treasury and finance teams in the Cabinet Office.

“You will transform and evolve GDS internally, creating a high-performing culture based on excellent leadership and line-manager capability across GDS enabled by effective tools and approaches,” the job advert said.

The COO position comes with a salary of up to £93,000 per annum.

All four roles offer the opportunity to be based in one of the following cities: London; Birmingham; Manchester; York; or Glasgow.

A website providing application details for all four openings has been created by recruitment firm GatenbySanderson, which will sift through CVs and conduct initial interviews.

Those who successfully negotiate these phases will progress to a second stage comprised of assessments, a stakeholder-engagement exercise, and a “chat” with GDS. Final panel interviews are then scheduled to take place between late April and mid-May.
With the exception of the head of engineering role – the panel for which will be chaired by incumbent GDS chief operating officer Erin Robinson – these final interviews require the oversight of a civil service commissioner: in this case, Martin Spencer. 

Tom Read will sit on panel for the three most senior posts, alongside a selection of other digital leaders from GDS and other departments.

The digital unit’s director of strategy, Abisola Fatokun, will form part of the panel for the chief product and technology officer role.

The strategy chief recorded a video for the recruitment site, in which he encourages candidates to apply. Fatokun points the GDS’s ongoing work on the new government-wide One Login system and GOV.UK app as one of the major attractions of the roles.

“Now is a really good time to join GDS because we are currently building out our capability to deliver a truly transformational digital identity product to serve the British public,” he said. “The qualities we are looking for in a leader is somebody who is somebody who is able to discern between what is good enough versus striving for perfection and never getting anything out. So, I think you should join GDS if you really want to understand how digital transformation happens in the modern era. In addition, you will be building out meaningful products for the citizens of this country… and abroad. The work you will be doing will be very, very meaningful. We do not lack for ambition at GDS, we truly want to change the world.”




Hear from GDS chief executive Tom Read who will discuss work on the new login system and the government’s digital plans for the next 10 years during an exclusive presentation at PublicTechnology Live. In addition to this keynote appearance, the CPD-certified event, which takes place on 29 March at London’s Business Design Centre and is free to attend for public sector professionals, also features speakers including HMRC CDIO Daljit Rehal, and head of civil service Fast Stream Sonia Pawson.

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Sam Trendall

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