Are you looking for a job that impacts on the lives of every person in the country? A job that helps people, business and the government make better decisions about our future? When I left university that's what I was looking for and that's what I found as a fast streamer in the Government Statistical Service. In my first job I was analysing the performance of British industry, publishing figures every quarter that would regularly appear on news bulletins, meeting business leaders and working with the team at the Treasury preparing the annual Budget. After that I worked as an analyst on understanding how prices of goods and services are changing, measuring shopping patterns, funding for local government, inner city policy and public sector pay. In each case the numbers I was producing were in the public spotlight and eagerly awaited by decision makers making choices of national importance.
With excellent opportunities for training, I was able to keep my professional skills up to date and also learn new skills, in management and engagement with the media for example. I was well supported by my managers when I was ready to move into positions of leadership. I have had opportunities to appear on live TV, travel the world to represent the UK at international meetings as well as maintaining my professional interests by being active in the Royal Statistical Society. I found myself leading teams of 10s then 100s and, at its height 70,000, when I had responsibility for the national population census. I spent ten years outside the world of statistics before last year when I was appointed as the UK National Statistician. My job is to lead professional statisticians in all government departments as we seek to mobilise the potential of data to help Britain make better decisions. I would not be where I am today if I had not taken the first step and applied for the fast stream. Go on. Take the first step.