‘I wanted to be part of the modernisation’: five minutes with the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Oliver Schneider

By on 18/12/2022 | Updated on 18/12/2022

The deputy director general, transition to digital, at the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, tells Global Government Forum about France and Belgium’s joint digital skills tool, finding inspiration in applying agile thinking to public services, and what he’d be if he weren’t a public servant

What drew you to a career in the civil service?

I remember standing in long queues at public organisations when I was a student. I hoped that it would become more effective one day and wanted to become a part of this modernisation.

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

pix.org, which went live earlier this year. It’s a free solution that allows citizens to assess and develop their digital skills and is an international project involving France and Belgium. I think it will have a huge impact on many more countries.

What more do you want to achieve before you retire?

I want to deliver on digital transformation and innovate. I also think that pix.org will be used in many countries and supported by UNESCO.

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

I find a lot of purpose in my work. I see the positive results on society of what we develop. We can innovate and have a nice team spirit.

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

In France, they have created the “startup d’état” movement which applies lean/agile thinking to public services and fosters public intrapreneurship. It was a great inspiration for my team.

Are there any projects or innovations in your country that might be valuable to your peers overseas?

pix.org is really amazing. Any country that needs to work on digital skills would benefit from it. Everyone can try it and see how to use it in their own country. With France, we are open to new partnerships.

What attributes do you most value in people?

When they have dreams and the courage to make them true.

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

A musician or a composer.

Do you have any unusual hobbies?

I am walking through Europe from north to south, one new segment each year.

Is there something about you that people find surprising?

I read complicated books.

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‘They call it public service for a reason; you are serving something that is bigger than yourself’: five minutes with Stephen Burt, chief data officer of Canada

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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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