It’s not a 9-to-5 job. It’s a calling.
It’s 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – and it changes your life.
That’s what I tell new graduates as they start their careers at CSC in the hopes of recruiting them to the public sector space. It’s a space I have worked in my entire adult life – first in the military, specialising in electronic warfare, and now as a technologist serving the public sector from the outside-in.
My work has absolutely changed me, in the best way. I imagine the experience is akin to being a doctor or a nurse, being able to put your skills to work in a way that really helps people. It’s about maintaining a genuine passion and interest, throughout your working career, in finding innovative and effective solutions to some real, fundamental challenges facing every person in the country – and beyond.
We protect our military, their lives and property. We improve emergency response to tragic incidents. We keep daily life functioning for our fellow citizens. If we get it wrong, it’s not just a bottom line that gets hurt; the health and safety of our nation could be at risk.
I find that millennials really respond and gravitate to this message. As much as the media critiques this generation as being selfish, narcissistic, etc., I don’t find that to be the case. I see them yearning to be part of something bigger than themselves – and the public sector offers that opportunity.
Even if some of you find this uncomfortable, the fact is that these millennials are today’s citizens. They make up much of today’s workforce and they’re becoming tomorrow’s business leaders. It’s true that they work in different ways and expect others to follow suit, which becomes even more significant as organisations start operating within ecosystems that increasingly have millennials at the helm.
But, undoubtedly, the public sector gains from having youth in its ranks.
Here in the UK, it doesn’t go unnoticed that many of the decision-makers around the table are people like me – middle-aged men and women with long careers behind them. The secret to success in the industry today comes in a what’s next mentality.
What technology solutions will make the public sector workplace more user friendly? What cybersecurity measures will best protect our men and women serving in the military? How will social media play a role in political discourse? What haven’t we thought of yet that will be a game-changer for all of us?
Millennials and the wealth of knowledge their generation brings will help us answer these types of questions. Their enthusiasm, their passion, their different ways of thinking, their deep, ingrained knowledge of digital platforms, these factors – and more – will make the public sector better and stronger.
So how do we get talented graduates to take up the mantle? In my mind, it takes a bit of prep, a bit of finesse and then an ongoing, serious commitment to maintaining their involvement and helping them grow original ideas within a typical landscape of large delivery programmes and large portfolio projects.
We need to ensure our public sector workplaces are fitted with the technology experiences youngsters now expect (things like mobility, cloud, collaboration tools, etc.) and that the workplace culture embraces innovation and agile approaches that allow these great minds to thrive. When that is coupled with the years of experience and investment in designing, engineering and operating very-large, secure systems, typically on regional or global scales, then you can really exploit the very best that technology has to offer. And you can address the most diverse set of user needs you will find in any business or operating environment.
And to top it off, we need to sell what we do to the next generation. The public sector offers one of the most academically challenging environments a person could work in. There’s no room for error, and expectations are high due to the importance of the work and the intelligence of the people you deal with.
That’s what drives me every day – almost as much as the rewarding feeling I get from knowing my work at CSC ultimately serves a greater good. It’s what has gotten me out of bed every morning since I first started my career, and it will continue to inspire me for many years to come.
I just hope in the years ahead, it’s the next generation of public servants helping me achieve that success.
Graham Hill-Adams is director of Programme Management & Service Delivery for CSC’s UK Public Sector. Connect with him on LinkedIn.