Next government HR boss will be asked to ‘leverage AI and digitalisation’

Recruitment is open for a new government chief people officer to succeed Rupert McNeil

Credit: Jernej Furman/CC BY 2.0     Image has been cropped

The Cabinet Office has launched the hunt for the next government chief people officer and is offering up to £180,000 a year for the director-general role.

Its recruitment campaign follows current chief people officer Rupert McNeil’s announcement that he will return to the private sector in April, after six years in post. McNeil’s salary bracket is £185,000-£189,999, according to the most recent civil service high-earners list.

The candidate pack indicated that government wishes to appoint an HR leader with a “commitment to innovation, including an understanding of how AI and digitalisation can be leveraged for organisational and citizen advantage”.

In his foreword to the pack, Cabinet Office permanent secretary and civil service chief operating officer Alex Chisholm said the ideal candidate to succeed McNeil would be someone who can “operationalise” the workforce commitments set out in last year’s Declaration on Government Reform.

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He said training, performance-management and recruitment would be particular areas of focus. 

“We are making good progress, and our ambitions are clear – both on the employment offer we want to make to our people, and how we will support them to further build their capability,” he wrote.

But he suggested the successful candidate to become the next chief people officer “might be the person that can accelerate that progress and have the drive and determination to help us achieve even more, across a highly complex system”.

The chief people officer is based in the Cabinet Office, where they lead a Civil Service HR team of 550 people, and is also the head of the 5,000-strong HR function. The role involves running a budget of £30m.

Chisholm said the new chief people officer would need to ensure that the government has a “professional and agile HR community” that is equipped to support departments through “individual transformations” with an emphasis on capability and shared learning.

The job specification for the role also calls for someone with strong leadership skills, “immediate credibility”, and the ability to oversee the development of “leading edge employment policy” to underpin wider government reform.

Candidates are advised that they can be based in London, Glasgow or York. But they are also warned that the successful applicant will frequently be required to work from 70 Whitehall and so must be prepared to spend time in the capital.

Consultants Odgers Berndtson are handling the recruitment process for the Cabinet Office. Applications are open until 3 April.


Sam Trendall

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