Haroona Chughtai – Deputy Director Future EU Roads Relationships, Dept for Transport
I joined the Civil Service as an Executive Officer working for Defra just after the foot and mouth outbreak. I moved swiftly to work directly for ministers as a private secretary and experienced the workings of both Houses of Parliament close up, which as a politics graduate was a fantastic role. After three years of various roles of working with ministers, I moved on promotion to work for the Cabinet Office and Number 10. Working at the centre of Government was an amazing experience and provided an opportunity to experience working with a number of government departments to develop and deliver policy at pace. I then returned to Defra to work on various environmental policy areas and slowed my career down for a few years to focus on my two children.
To develop my leadership skills, I secured a place on the META leadership programme for senior managers from ethnic minority backgrounds, which seeks to develop the toolkit for securing a position in the Senior Civil Service. As part of this I joined the Department for Transport for a short-term project working on High Speed 2, and was asked to stay.
I moved on promotion to work in Local Transport and also secured a place on the Future Leaders Scheme, a cross Whitehall talent programme to develop leadership theory and skills. After graduating from the FLS, I applied for an SCS role and was successful and developed and led the team focusing on Maritime international trade and lead the maritime EU negotiations and exit related policy; to ensure that trade continued to flow after we had left the EU. After three and a half years of developing my trade expertise, and having worked on Covid 19 response, as part of the team ensuring that British Nationals were repatriated from cruise ships; I have moved to my current role – leading a team to ensure traffic management in Kent is effective post transition to enable trade to keep flowing.
I have found the Civil Service to be a great place to work – it encourages diversity, respects your work life balance and motivates you to develop your potential.