‘Characters of all types abound in the Public Service’: five minutes with… The Bahamas’ deputy director of transformation and digitisation, Carol Roach

By on 08/05/2022 | Updated on 09/05/2022

Carol Roach tells Global Government Forum about working for your resume, learning e-government lessons from Uruguay, her inspirational civil servant big sister – and swimming with sharks

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your working life?

I am going to turn this question upside down. The advice I consistently give my colleagues, and which I live by, is to ‘work for your resume’. When one looks at a resume there are two sections, ‘accomplishments’ and ‘education and skill’. If you cannot write anything of value in these two areas and update it every year, you are not performing and you are not growing. It’s a way to check your career and personal development.

What have you achieved in your career that you’re most proud of?

Although my work in e-government has brought about remarkable changes in the public service and the country, what I am most proud of is the part I have played in the growth of my colleagues, those that I have transferred knowledge to, encouraged to upskill, and mentored. To see them lead projects with confidence and receive accolades for their accomplishments puts a smile on my face.

What do you like most about working in the civil service?

Nothing is routine and there is always a challenge. It is both frustrating and rewarding. Most of all I like the characters of all types that abound in the Public Service (I say this with a chuckle and a big smile thinking of some). Civil servants help you do better and be better. You also learn to accomplish much with little.

Which civil servant – past or present – do you most admire and why?

My eldest sister, Melanie Roach, the director of public works, has been my greatest inspiration and has my deepest admiration. Like me, she works in a male-dominated field but has gained respect from her colleagues both in the public and private sector because of her show of expertise and her integrity. She is tough when she needs to be but always fair. I try to emulate her… with my own twist.

Which country’s civil service or government department are you most inspired by and why?

I am most inspired by AGESIC, Uruguay’s Agency of Electronic Government and Information Society. In 2012, Uruguay ranked 50 out of 193 countries in the UN e-Government Development Index (EGDI) and in 2020 it ranked 26. It’s the number one in Latin America and the Caribbean.

AGESIC has assisted the government of The Bahamas on a number of occasions by conducting workshops and providing knowledge transfer opportunities. Their approach to e-government is innovative and though they are number one, they subscribe to continuous improvement.

Governments have taken the approach to be citizen-centric, but in Uruguay they don’t just say it, they do it. They have my admiration.

Can you name one lesson or idea from abroad that’s helped you and your colleagues?

Mexico’s e-government journey shows that you can come from behind and leap ahead by paying attention to lessons learnt. We now don’t try to reinvent – we take the best of what the leaders offer and then try to improve on that. 

What was your first car?

A white two-door Daewoo Racer. It was about the sporty look, but by the Friday night of week one I realised it was not practical. I was a youth leader at my church so Friday night drop-offs were a challenge… sardines in a can. 

Which three famous people, alive or dead, would you most like to invite to a dinner party?

Steve Harvey – lots of laughs and lots of spiritual words of wisdom. Oprah Winfrey – people say I look like her to the point where I’ve had strangers want to take pictures with me. Also, my mother often gave off-the-wall advice “according to Oprah…”. Then a tossup between LL Cool J and Idris Elba, no explanation needed.

Is there something about you that people find surprising?  

I wouldn’t ordinarily think it strange but people look at me in shock and disbelief when I tell them. I love to ocean swim any time of year and almost anywhere. When I travel it is always with swim gear just in case there is an opportunity. Did I mention that sometimes there are sharks?

Who is your hero?

My mother, Joan Agatha Roach (nee Wilson). In a different place and time I believe she would have been a phenomenal woman of STEM, possibly an electrical engineer. She had many health challenges but succeeded in raising four independent women with a love for education, travel, and an appreciation of the finer things of life – classical music, fine dining, and reading to name a few.  She was a woman of strong faith and a sense of fairness. She was full or wisdom and people sought her advice. A classy, caring lady. I miss her.

More from the ‘Five minutes with…’ series:

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Open data, Metallica, and not being afraid to leave your comfort zone: five minutes with… Lithuania‘s head of Digital Initiatives Management

‘Help others as you climb the ladder, as your path will surely cross again’: five minutes with… the Development Bank of Latin America’s Carlos Santiso

‘We do not stick to conventional wisdom’: five minutes with… Singapore’s Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Tan Ching Yee

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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