Like a lot of people in the public sector, CGI member Antony Collard had a deep-seated worry about leaving his ‘secure’ job in the civil service for a private company. But he decided to make a change and join CGI anyway, and we’re pleased to say he’s really glad I did. Luckily all his concerns about working in the private sector were quickly alleviated once he started working here. If you’re in a similar position or just wondering what the reality of life on the other side can be like, read his story below – you may find it helpful.
Why I’m happy I made the switch to private
After nearly 30 years working in the public sector, I was starting to mull over what I wanted to do next. I wasn’t specifically looking for a big change, but a mutual contact introduced me to someone from CGI, and we had a great conversation. It really opened my eyes to the world of consulting beyond what I already knew, and I decided to talk to CGI to see if there were any opportunities worth exploring.
If I was going to make the leap from the public sector, it was always going to be to a company whose values and ethos matched my own, and who consistently provides top-quality delivery. That’s something I’ve always taken great satisfaction in. In CGI, I saw a company that looks after its people and its clients, has a big eye on sustainability and social value, and delivers difficult things well.
As part of the mutual interviewing process, I also spoke to other former civil servants who had joined the company to get a sense of all those things that mattered to me, and that sealed the deal!
It’s not as different as I expected
For my last six years in the Public Sector, I’d been HMRC’s Digital Director and latterly, Director of Strategy, Architecture, Design and Innovation/CTO. I’d spent 2020 delivering COVID schemes and 2021 working up and selling a new IT strategy for HMRC. I had also shepherded the IT function through three successive Spending Reviews.
It turns out that much of the work I do now is very similar, if not the same as what I was doing before – delivering great IT solutions on the one hand, and managing a part of an organisation and all that goes with it on the other. Different flavours maybe, but ultimately similar activities, so the competencies developed in the public sector were easily transferable. The main adjustments for me were really just those hygiene factors of having to rebuild a network of contacts and working out quite how the processes work in the new organisation.
Letting go of preconceived ideas about the private sector
Like most people used to the public sector, I had a bit of a fear of things being a lot more high-pressure and ‘cut-throat’ in the private sphere. I’m sure that’s true in some places, but my experience with CGI has been quite the opposite.
Moreover, it’s been important to me to still feel like I’m involved with something that has a positive effect on the community. CGI’s strong belief in its own corporate social responsibility gives me full confidence that I am.
CGI employees (who we call ‘members’ because most of us take the option of buying shares in the company) are all given paid volunteering days. Specific to our work with the public sector, CGI also commits to doing a range of additional activities to support delivery of social value. These follow similar themes but also extend to knowledge sharing with public sector bodies, developing apprentices and working alongside government departments to support their own social initiatives. In addition, the company is very active in supporting local groups, clubs and charities in these areas, and initiatives like our sponsored STEM camps for students.
Leaving what feels like a ‘secure’ job in the civil service for something perceived as higher risk in a private company can be daunting. I know it was a deep-seated worry for me personally. But in reality, I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcomed and valued. To be honest, I wish I’d made the move much sooner!
Head to CGI careers page for more information on the company and career opportunities.