Baachu Talk Podcast

Showcasing the human leadership stories behind UK public and business services

Today's guest is Prof. Gary Sturgess

Gary Sturgess is the NSW Premier's ANZSOG Chair of Public Service Delivery at the University of NSW. He consults extensively with various government departments. Prior to that he spent 10 years in the UK, where he was head of a research institute founded by the international public service company, Serco Group plc. In the early 1990s, he was Director-General of the Cabinet Office in the Greiner government, and among other initiatives, was the architect of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Part 1

Part 2

In this truly inspirational episode, we will discuss Gary’s 

  • Early life and education 
  • First Job 
  • Public administration role – Director-General of the Cabinet Office
  • Serco Institute role
  • ANZSOG Chair of Public Service Delivery role
  • Just another paper clip BSA report contribution
  • Views on outsourcing playbook and related UK Gov initiatives
  • Wider commissioning advisory roles at English speaking countries UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand
  • Publications
  • Views on UK public sector procurement post Carillion
  • Suggested resources for commissioners
  • Key achievements 
  • 3 things not many people know about him 
  • Advice to people wanting to pursue career 
  • One thing he wish he had known early in his career
  • One kind or thoughtful thing someone did to him
  • Kindest person he knows
  • Best piece of advice he has received
  • Influential people in his life and career
  • Next steps

Few random questions

  • As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
  • What was your best subject in school?
  • If you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  • What superpower would most like to have? What trait do you like the most about yourself?
  • Which storybook/cartoon character do you like the most?
  • What was the best year of your life? Why?
  • What is the scariest thing you have ever done for fun?
  • What have you observed lately (Covid-19) that reminded you that people are kind?

Key Nuggets

  • Understand the language and terminology public services economy – – contracting, commissioning, contestability and outsourcing
  • The word Commissioning stands for entrustment
  • Ideological connotations in using the word “outsourcing” for contracting. I think it is time everyone stop using the word “outsourcing”
  • UK was market leader in commissioning, unquestionably the leader in PFIs and was doing it better than anyone else in the world
  • As commissioners, remember your history and study your history. Unfortunately a great deal of history is lost, many forgotten
  • In 2011, I realised public service contracting was not heading in the right direction
  • Contract management is complex. As commissioner work out what tools, what versions of contracting to use for the projects
  • Contracting is a robust form of commissioning
  • 2016 onwards – Public sector contracting became unsustainable for the industry
  • Yes, private companies made mistakes but end of the day they are part of government supply chain
  • Post Carillion, things have calmed down on both industry and central government. There is much better engagement with industry from the cabinet office
  • I spend most of my time grappling with public servants
  • I am expert in convict transportation and maritime history
  • I will be remembered as anti-corruption campaigner
  • Speak truth to power and be curious
  • I have intense curiosity that is incurable
  • I was curious and intrigued about how the society works
  • Find your calling – be passionate about your work
  • You can achieve work life balance in your lifetime
  • We all need some toolboxes and build your big toolbox
  • My wife is also my best friend, she is the ground I walk on
  • My strength is in scepticism and critical self-analysis
  • Lot of kindness comes from small things
  • Like Thomas tank engine, have the desire to make a difference and contribution
  • Build socially responsible business
  • Pause, remember, realise, understand, and learn

Get to know Prof. Gary Sturgess, world’s foremost authority in public economy commissioning  

Contact Prof. Gary Sturgess

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