CSaP Policy Leaders Fellow
Director General, Rail, Department for Transport
9 December 2013
I am very fortunate to be one of the first group of Policy Leader Fellows. Throughout my career I have enjoyed and benefited from interaction with academics and scientists, so I was delighted when I heard that CSaP were adapting their successful Policy Fellowships programme to create a format suited to the over-active diaries of Director Generals and our counterparts in industry.
Twenty years ago I was responsible for policy on drug misuse, and had the good fortune to find myself working with the leading research centres in the UK and abroad. The benefits on both sides were huge. My research colleagues gained an understanding of how Government ticks, while we were able to ensure that decisions in a very sensitive area of policy were based on the best academic research available.
So my expectations of the Policy Leaders Fellowship were high, and it has lived up to them. The core of the programme is a series of roundtables each involving a mix of Fellows, academics and external experts. The subjects addressed emerge from the Fellows and, with the resources of Cambridge at its disposal, CSaP has been able to assemble a world-class line-up to debate them. A recent roundtable on the future of the internet generated rich insights into the impact of technology and innovation on individuals and business, as well as reflection on the need for global governance.
One clear aim of the Fellowship is to enhance mutual understanding between academia, Government and industry. The first roundtable asked how we can ensure that policy better reflects science. The discussion provided a vivid reminder that the world of Government, which as civil servants we take for granted, can be hard to understand from outside. Knowing what will and won’t land is a valuable tool in influencing, and an area where the Fellowship can provide benefit to the academic community.
The roundtables are complemented by meetings tailored to the interests of individual Fellows. In my case these have ranged from smart infrastructure to gender diversity. The meetings have provided the opportunity to understand future possibilities for rail and to make connections between industry leaders and academics that may provide creative solutions to practical problems. Through the Fellowship I look forward to developing enduring relationships that enrich the development of public policy-making.