PracticePeople In PracticeHeadstart: Careers – A week in the life

Headstart: Careers - A week in the life

Sir Andrew Likierman, head of the government accounting service

Monday

Lots of meetings in the Treasury today: one with a minister on a tough policy issue (resolved), one on a parliamentary report (starts with trench warfare, ends with a good compromise); and a European finance ministry delegation who want to move to accruals-based reporting within just two years. The civil service gets lots of stick for inefficiency but having worked in and with the private sector I find most civil service meetings are more effective. People think fast and don’t waste time.

Tuesday

In to work by bike. A few years ago ministers did away with parking in most government buildings on environmental grounds.

Most of the day taken up by a trip to the MoD to explain why all this new accounting information is good for getting more bang for the buck, not just a distraction from serious peacekeeping. I am encouraged by the questions, which show they are engaged and take it seriously.

Wednesday

Most of the day taken up by responding to incoming information. The Treasury is only about 1,000 people and most government business comes through it at some time. Emails are copied widely. I get about 100 items a day.

Most can be dealt with in seconds. Some are very complex and take weeks of mind-bending discussion to clear.

Thursday

The Treasury management board, whose meeting convenes today, deals with a combination of policy and management matters. Arguments need to be well thought through – people don’t rise to the top of the Treasury without being tough, very bright and articulate.

For management matters I represent my directorate, one of seven in the Treasury. Most are professionals – accountants, internal auditors – who are part of the mainstream of government business.

Friday

My academic day. I teach a core MBA management accountancy class at the London Business School where I am visiting professor. The students are fantastic – intelligent, highly motivated and a very international mix.

But most of the time I work on the project to which I want to return after my work at the Treasury is finished. This is entirely private sector oriented to avoid conflicts of interest and involves a new look at companies and their performance measures.

The work is cross-disciplinary and I look forward to developing new approaches and ideas.

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