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Reflections of a secondee at Capgemini Consulting

Isobel and Mark, have been on secondment to Capgemini Consulting from the Civil Service Fast Stream for the last 6 months. As part of the Consultant Development Community (CDC) graduate scheme they have been broadening skills and gaining a taste of working life in the private sector. They share some of their reflections on the experience…

“The CDC and Fast Stream have several similarities. Both offer the opportunity to gain experience across a broad range of different roles and content. There are certain themes that recur across both organisations; the need to operate efficiently within a constrained budget, to work effectively with fluid priorities, the ability to come up with creative and economical solutions to the challenges faced by clients and departments. Our backgrounds in the Civil Service range across transport, city policy, child protection, immigration, reform, and benefits, whilst at Capgemini Consulting UK we have had roles in Consumer Products, Utilities and Financial Services. In the same way that every consulting project is different, every Whitehall department has its quirks.

Capgemini Consulting UK prepares its graduates well for the challenge of working across different roles and sectors, through a great support network, and quality training programme. Capgemini Consulting UK’s ability to convene innovative thinkers on any given sector or issue also means that CDCers have access to the latest content for their area of interest, and makes them more effective when deployed to client site. Drawing on outside experience in order to foster fresh thinking is also something that the Civil Service is pursuing, as demonstrated by the requirement for all Fast Streamers to complete a secondment.

But there are also of course some differences in approach and experience too. For one, the sense of community in the CDC is stronger, which is undoubtedly made possible by the much smaller intakes. This is something that it would be difficult to replicate across a scheme of 250+ per year, and it has been great fun to experience. Another big difference that we have noticed lies in the different kinds of accountability that have to be maintained. Whilst working on projects across Capgemini Consulting UK’s portfolio we have learnt that a consultant’s most important relationship is with the client. You could compare this to a civil servant’s relationship with his or her Minister, but with the added twist that in addition to this, a civil servant has to always be aware of their ultimate responsibility and accountability to the citizen – this should inform all decisions.

We leave Capgemini Consulting UK having gained some valuable experience, whether that has been to learn some key consulting tools (there will surely be an opportunity for us to use our brown paper-ing skills back in Whitehall), see what it’s like to work across different sectors and environments, or just to meet some interesting people. We hope that it has also provided our colleagues at Capgemini Consulting UK with an opportunity to build strong relationships with civil servants, and help them to better understand the sector they might one day find themselves pitching to for work!”

Isobel Cave/Mark Harland (as Guest Blogger)

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