‘I am a great believer that the race goes not to the swift, nor to the strong. It goes to the last man standing.’ And an important part of that philosophy is the need for periodic refreshment. My career conforms to that pattern. After reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford I joined the Cabinet Office, subsequently working in H.M. Treasury and in 10 Downing Street where I was Head of the Prime Minister’s Efficiency Unit under Margaret Thatcher. I was then invited to join Price Waterhouse as their first direct entry Partner in their consulting practice to specialise in public sector reform. I stayed there until 2003 when I embarked on a PhD at Queen Mary, London University, receiving the degree in 2014.
Along the way the then Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, recommended to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that my PhD work should be expanded into an Official History of the Cabinet Secretaries since the Second World War and up to 2002. With unfettered access to government files it was the start of nine years of research and writing, culminating in a 350,000-word book (that’s 715 pages to you and me) and 4,000 footnotes!
Previously I had written on management - A Conversation with Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in ‘Straight from the CEO’ (Ed: Bill Dauphinois & Colin Price); and contributed to a memoir of working with Margaret Thatcher - ‘The Real Iron Lady’ (Gillian Shephard). But this was on a different level…
Having completed the history and seen it favourably reviewed in ‘Prospect’ and ‘The Spectator’ I have taken that knowledge and vicarious experience of how a Cabinet Secretary ‘does things’ to my current role as Secretary-General of the European Chiropractors’ Union, a federation of 23 countries.