Friday, 31 July 2020

This month’s OB of the month is Will Marks (BCPS/Du. 2001-12). Will works in the Civil Service, most recently at the Office for National Statistics and in the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, co-ordinating the response to Covid-19.

  • When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
    To be completely honest I had literally no idea. I think I had vague plans to become a pilot or Geography teacher at one point. 
  • What are you now you've grown up?
    I’m a civil servant currently working in strategy and policy across the Cabinet Office and Office for National Statistics.
  • What is your best memory of school?
    There are probably too many to mention! Regularly playing rugby, early morning swimming training followed by breakfast, and flying a plane with the CCF to name a few. The highlight though probably has to be our House Song rendition of George Michael’s ‘Faith’ – a rare moment when Durnford didn’t come last.  
  • What was the best piece of advice you were given?
    The best advice I got was from Mr Cairns and that was to be a first-rate version of yourself rather than a second-rate version of someone else. It’s stuck with me ever since and I’ve always tried to pass it on.  
  • What do you do you do as a career?
    After a great time studying Geography as an undergraduate and a Master’s in Urban Science, I’ve found myself in the Civil Service. After a year working in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as a policy lead on renewable energy, I now work on data across government for the Cabinet Office and the ONS.  
  • What does/did your job involve?
    My answer to this six months ago would have probably been very different! Since February, I’ve been co-ordinating the strategic and operational response to Covid-19 for the ONS. For most of the crisis response, I’ve worked as part of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat within the Cabinet Office, making sure senior policymakers at the centre of government have the best available data and analysis to take key decisions.    
  • What are the most challenging parts of your job?
    Most recently it has been the sheer pace of the crisis response and the way in which departments across government have had to effectively work together like never before. If you asked my girlfriend, she’d probably say the endless weekend and late-night phone calls!  
  • What have you done that you are most proud of?
    This probably has to be rowing the Ringvaart Regatta last year with my seven other teammates and a very patient cox. It was a 100km rowing marathon around the edges of Amsterdam and we raised over £6,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity, which felt like a great achievement despite the blisters.
  • What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
    Cycling to my office during lockdown with no cars around has been absolutely great, so if that could be something that stayed going forwards… but I don’t think that’s likely, sadly.
  • What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
    A good bottle of gin, a rowing boat to make my escape and an alpaca (they’re always useful).
  • How would you like to be remembered?
    Hopefully someone who’s helped enable government to make better decisions with better data, and ultimately improved policy and service delivery as a result.

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