In conversation with Deborah McKenzie

In your view, which is the most demanding issue currently facing public sector leaders?

The most demanding aspect for me is making sense of what is a complex set of changes that the public sector is going through.  It’s about helping people understand how to work with all the ambiguity and stay focused when we are still in austerity  funding is tight with increasing demands from the public.  We have incredibly talented people who are continually being challenged to make and continue to deliver a great service and I am passionate about helping them to achieve this.

Which leadership programme under your management, has been the greatest success for PHE?

I think this has to be Local Vision.  It’s a collaboration across a whole series of groups in the public sector and it’s a programme that PHE is a partner in. It takes leaders through place-based leadership development which helps them deal with the most complex problems and deliver a better outcome for the community they serve.

What do you envisage being a future problem for public sector leadership?

Not enough people who want to do it!  We need to develop and support out leaders more effectively.  If people feel there is a blame culture within the public sector they will never have the confidence to put their head above the parapet and achieve their true potential.

What is your main priority for the remainder of the year?

My main priority is to be more discerning about how I spend my time and saying no more because I recognise that to do less is to achieve more.

Deborah McKenzie is the Chief People Officer at Public Health England, and will be speaking on Delivering organisational transformation, at the Public Sector Show on 26th June, at ExCel London.