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Keep calm and carry on

You’ll have seen the media coverage over the past few days since Mike announced that he is leavingLast week was a busy week sorting things out and speaking to people about what happens next.

I’m Stephen Foreshew-Cain, COO of GDS, and I’ve been here since April 2014. You haven’t heard much from me since I arrived (in fact this is my very first GDS blog post). Liam Maxwell refers to me as the ‘gaffer’, but really I joined GDS to ensure we have a clear plan for digital delivery across government and that we are delivering to it.

I’ve been running GDS for a year, now I’m stepping up to lead it.

But I’m not doing that alone.

Liam Maxwell continues as our Chief Technology Officer, leading our Government Technology Group. Chris Ferguson, previously GOV.UK Verify Programme Director, is stepping up to lead our GDS Digital group as we continue to deliver and operate digital services for government (such as GOV.UK and Performance Platform). Felicity Singleton, one of the original authors of the Government Digital Strategy and current Programme Director of ‘Government as a Platform’, will lead on Digital Policy and Departmental Engagement aligning us with the needs of departmental plans. Wendy Coello, currently leading our Digital Engagement teams, will increase the scope of her portfolio to include Digital Design.  

And that’s just the beginning.  

We have a growing number of leaders at GDS who are ready to step up and lead the digital transformation. And beyond them, we have helped to recruit a network of digital and technology leaders into government, such as Norman Driskell at Home Office, Mayank Prakash at DWP, and Sarah Wilkinson at HO amongst them.  As we continue to develop the Digital and Technology profession in government there can only be more opportunity for digital and technology specialists.

I recently tweeted that digital transformation was neither a sprint nor a marathon, it's a relay. As Mike has passed on the baton to a new leadership team, so too are others who’ve decided that they have run their stretch. Three of the most significant architects of GDS success to date, Tom Loosemore, Deputy Director, Russell Davies, Director of Strategy, and Ben Terrett, Director of Design, have decided the time is right for them to move on as well. All of GDS is incredibly grateful for the energy, leadership and direction (and stickers) Tom, Ben and Russell have given us over the past 5 years and we will miss them very much.

We know that this is the right time for new leaders to stand up, and for some to move on. We also know we have a talented team, ready to take us through the next phase. I have worked closely with John Manzoni and the Minister Matthew Hancock to ensure we have full backing as we move through this period. When John and I talked about it last week, we talked about how far we’ve come and how our greatest strength is the people here.  Alongside making sure we continue to deliver our priorities this year, our focus is on gearing up for the Spending Review, and getting a settlement that will enable us to drive the government’s digital agenda forward.

So, that’s where we are now. As soon as we’ve got more news or updates we’ll let you know, as we always do here on this blog.

And as we say around here: Onwards!

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  1. Comment by JA posted on


    Is this not an opportuntiy to step back and see whether there are other approaches that might deliver more effective Digital Government?

    Government as a Platform is being touted as the next stage of Digital Government and yet there is no clear definition of exactly what that entails, never mind what benefits might accrue. Similarly, there is no analysis of the value delivered by "Digital by Default" or the exemplars.

    This beggars belief given the importance of transforming government.

    I would be delighted to discuss it further with you, and look forward to hearing from you in due course.

    As ever,


  2. Comment by Jane Hill posted on

    Is there ever a "right time" for all your best staff to leave at once?