Along with many others, I feel an immense sadness today at the passing of the brilliant Sir Jeremy Heywood. He was a man of incredible talent who dedicated his life to public service; an inspirational leader who stood for and role-modelled the values that many of us hold dear; someone whose optimism, empathy and kindness gave us hope for always making things better.
“You can’t get very far in the Civil Service if you are not prepared to be a person of integrity. You’ve got to be able to speak truth to power.” Sir Jeremy Heywood, 2018.
Jeremy was central to our Government in so many ways, and yet many of my social group (who haven’t worked in the civil service) hadn’t heard of him until his recent early-retirement. He didn’t seek recognition for his work, he was just relentless in getting a good job done for the public. James Smith once said to me, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”. Jeremy was a shining example of this.
Jeremy gave the OneTeamGov community so much support, calling it ‘the future of the Civil Service’ saying that: ‘working across boundaries is vital in order to deliver the highest quality public services and the best advice to ministers, and these kinds of events help to bring together professions and groups that don’t always find it easy to collaborate.’
There’s much more I can say, but I’d like to leave this with some of his blog posts and videos.
- Sir Jeremy Heywood’s speech to Civil Service Live — Be Exceptional. (2013)
- The Cabinet Office at 100 (2016)
- 100 years of Cabinet Secretaries: six in conversation — IFG event (2016)
- Supporting mental health and wellbeing a top priority for the Civil Service (2017)
- How will you help make your workplace more inclusive? (2017)
- Making the ‘diversity mix’ work (2017)
- Narrowing the gender pay gap (2017)
- Masterclass — Sir Jeremy Heywood — Patchwork Foundation (2018)
“A good leader has got to be able to build a very strong team.. You cant do it all yourself, and nor does any one individual have the personal qualities necessary to get everything right. You’ve got to build a team of people who are a diverse group.. otherwise you get captured by one view of the world. Building and motivating a team of diverse individuals [is essential].
Creating a culture where it is safe to challenge is very important as well. You’ve got to have a culture in which anybody, no matter how junior, no matter how inexperienced can say ‘actually, that doesn’t look right’. That they can look at something with fresh eyes, thats what the country needs. So as a leader, you’ve got to encourage that sense of challenge.” — Sir Jeremy Heywood, 2018.
Jeremy leaves us an incredible legacy to take forward. My thoughts are with his wife, children, friends and family.
We will truly miss him.