‘Don’t let forever climbing hurdles leave you unhappy’: five minutes with the UK Food Standards Agency’s Julie Pierce

By on 07/08/2022 | Updated on 07/08/2022

The agency’s director of openness, data and digital, and Wales, tells GGF about engineering your career to do more of what you love, her desire to see technocrats at the top of government departments, and the artificial construct of departmental silos

What drew you to a career in the civil service?

It is tasked to address the most challenging and interesting of problems. I realised that no other sector came close to what it has to tackle, day in day out.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the civil service?

Work out what you enjoy doing most, and engineer your career around doing more of what you love. Things you don’t enjoy just have to be got through or avoided, but don’t let forever climbing over those hurdles leave you unhappy.

If you could introduce one civil service reform, what would it be?

Break down the silos between departments. They are an artificial construct that are meaningless to those we serve.

How might the civil service be different in 25 years’ time?

In only five years’ time, I would like to see a civil service with real technocrats and innovators at the top of departments.

If you weren’t a civil servant, what would you be?

A management consultant. That is where I spent most of my working life, but it was also the route into government as many of my clients were public sector whether in Malta or Poland.

What is your favourite thing to do at the weekends?

I cannot call it between gardening and walking. Just being outside I suppose and looking at what is happening – maybe early days as a geographer drove that interest.

What is your favourite book?  

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

What was your first car?

A Fiat Panda (with sunroof).

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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