‘Invest in understanding the big picture’: five minutes with Global Government Summit participant Seppo Määttä of Finland

By on 08/01/2023 | Updated on 08/01/2023

Seppo Määttä, director general, Government Strategy Department at the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland explains which countries he takes inspiration from, and shares his vision of the future – including AI decision-making – and the joy of his two Australian Cobberdogs

In this sister series to our ‘Five minutes with’ interviews, we share insights from the civil and public service leaders attending our Global Government Summit in Singapore in February.

What are you most interested in discussing at the Global Government Summit?

I would be interested in hearing how governmental ministries and agencies co-operate horizontally with other ministries and vertically with regional and local authorities (e.g. cities) as well as with the private sector and NGOs and, vice versa, how companies co-operate with the public sector. What kind of experiences have they had when co-operating with each other?

What drew you to a career in the civil service?

My passion to contribute to a constantly developing and forward-looking public sector, which has both the ambition and the abilities to deliver services to enable citizens to have a great life.

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

Before my present work, I was CEO in two management consulting companies working mostly on public sector. Both of the companies were very successful in terms of customer satisfaction, attitude, competences and quality of work, reputation and customer results. Based on our shared values, the positive financial result was the outcome of these factors, not the cause for them. I am very proud of our teams who always put the customers first.

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

I would advise people to invest in networking to understand the systemic changes (the big picture) we are facing today and to put effort into anticipating what might be ahead in the future. I would also advise people to learn to look things and happenings from outside (from society) to inside (to administration), not on the other way around.

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

In my vision of the future, the public sector and the services provided by the public sector are completely digitalised; artificial intelligence is broadly used for automated decision-making; the amount of people working in the public sector is much less than today; and it is very common that people working in the private sector jump into the public sector and vice versa.

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

New Zealand, the UK Cabinet Office, Canada and Australia have been forerunners in many different areas, for example the digitalisation of public services; result- and performance-based management and budgeting; steering and management models; result- and impact-based analysis; and establishing new and downsizing and modernising existing organisational structures, for example the UK’s Delivery and Steering Units being responsible for supporting the implementation of policy actions and achieving objectives.

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

We are developing a framework, process and methodology for running an annual societal sustainability assessment based on the present situation and on developments over the next five years. Within the forthcoming few months we will test our framework, process and methodology for getting feedback on what is working and what needs to be developed further on. The test version 1.0 should be available before the parliament election in April and negotiations for the government in May/June 2023.

What attributes do you most value in people?

People who are engaged, innovative, honest, have a positive attitude, and are a team player.

What is your favourite thing to do at the weekend?

We like to spend our weekends in our cottage where my wife and I walk in the forest with our two Australian Cobberdogs, Pablo and Pietro. Watching our dogs and the joy they are experiencing while running free and playing together makes us smile and forget our daily routines.

What is your favourite book?

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge.

Find out more about the Global Government Summit, including the agenda and list of participants here. Please note, it is an invite only event.

Global Government Forum is now on Apple News! Subscribe to our channel to get all GGF’s latest news and insight on your device.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *