What is it like to work as a commercial manager at the Ministry of Justice?
Shauna Grant at the Ministry of Justice shares her insider insight into the organisation’s culture and commercial manager roles it’s recruiting for.
Shauna Grant, commercial manager - financial services, Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) works at the heart of the justice system to protect and advance the principles of justice, with a vision to deliver a world-class system that works universally.
Its Commercial and Contract Management Directorate (CCMD) supports some of the most innovative commercial work in government, managing over £4bn of contract spend per year. The team is currently recruiting for 20 commercial managers on permanent and fixed term contracts, with options to work in London, Leeds or Manchester.
Shauna Grant is a commercial manager in the financial services team based in the Leeds office. We caught up with her to find out more about the organisation’s culture and what it’s like to be a commercial manager at the MoJ.
Shauna, tell me about your team and the work you do
I’m one of two commercial managers working alongside an assistant commercial manager in the financial services team in our Leeds office. Between us, we look after 30 contracts covering travel and motor insurance, pensions, surety bonds, investments and payment solutions.
We’re part of the Ministry of Justice’s Commercial and Contract Management Directorate (CCMD) whose work is crucial to the successful delivery of the £1.3bn prison reform and £700m court reform programmes. The team is responsible for unique justice contracts such as prisoner escort services, electronic tagging and probation, as well as services such as IT, prison food and uniforms.
Being part of a larger commercial team means we get great opportunities for sharing best practice and exciting career prospects. We also get the opportunity to have a good work-life balance, with the chance to work flexibly.
Can you tell me more about the culture?
We moved to our current Leeds office in August 2018 - it’s a bright and modern building and everyone’s so lovely. People are at the heart of the MoJ and there’s a really nice community feel to the area we’re in, which is just a five minute walk from Leeds train station.
In our office complex there’s a choir which meets on a Friday lunchtime and there are food stalls in the area where we can go and grab some reasonably priced street food. We also have a group called the ‘Core’ographers’ that manages our social activities and makes sure we’re aware of any training opportunities on offer.
Our flexible working culture means we can work from home two days a week, and we’re generally responsible for managing our own time and workload, taking into account meetings we need to attend face-to-face of course. We tend to opt for conference calls and Skype to reduce travel time and costs. Some colleagues work compressed hours and take time off in lieu of hours worked. For example, this enables a member of my team - who is in full-time employment - to take a day off every other week.
What exciting projects are you working on?
At the moment I’m working on payment acceptance contracts - for example if someone has been issued a fine and needs to pay us, I look after the contracts that facilitate the payments. My colleagues and I have been looking at alternative ways we can recover fines, taking into account how much things have changed in terms of digital payments in our increasingly contactless and cashless culture. I’m conducting research into people’s behaviour, in terms of changes around money and payments, to help inform our decision on whether we should change our processes. I’m also liaising with our colleagues at the DVLA and HMRC to get an understanding of how they process their transactions, which will ultimately help us to make the required improvements to our systems.
What roles are you currently recruiting for?
We’re recruiting for 20 commercial managers to work in different commercial category management teams in CCMD, including tech & digital, rehabilitation services, estates and HM Courts & Tribunals Service. Our main headquarters are based in London and Leeds and we also have offices in Burton-upon-Trent and Manchester.
- Find out more and apply for a permanent commercial manager position at the Ministry of Justice
- Find out more and apply for a two-year fixed term contract commercial manager role at the Ministry of Justice
What kind of people are you looking for?
Public sector procurement knowledge is essential at commercial manager level, along with solid experience of working on important, high-value contracts with complex financial and legal aspects. In my team, we have so many projects going on so we need people who can hit the ground running without too much hand-holding.
Qualifications can be picked up on the job, although a relevant degree or membership of a professional body such as MCIPS or IACCM would be ideal, or at least a willingness to work toward this.
Strong communication skills are key as you need to be able to communicate with all stakeholders across different seniority levels, with the confidence to present your strategies to board level and persuade them about why you’re doing a project you're doing in the way you’re doing it. You need to grasp complex concepts, simplify them and explain them to others in an easy to understand way, both written and verbally.
Why would someone want to work for the Ministry of Justice?
I personally came from a public sector charitable background, and my preference has always been to work in the public sector. What attracted me to the MoJ is the friendly people and nice working environment - I felt I’d be welcomed and supported with a variety of development opportunities.
What training and development opportunities are there?
There’s a whole suite of training and development opportunities on offer, from one-day workshops led by external trainers, to formal courses and online training. We also get professional membership paid for by the company so we can continue our CPD. I was mentored by a member of the senior team in CCMD earlier this year, which I found very useful. It’s up to you how much you want to take advantage of these opportunities and if there’s something specific you want to do that isn’t already being offered you can put forward a business case for it.
What tips would you offer applicants?
Be enthusiastic about the MoJ as well as about the commercial activities we do. Be specific about the experience you’ve got, the types and scale of projects you’ve worked on, and their impact on delivering outcomes.
Experience is key so demonstrate experience and confidence in running your own projects. In my financial services team we’re expected to take full ownership and responsibility for the end-to-end procurement of a contract. This may vary with other teams and you may be stronger in one area than another which is fine but in your application and interview you need to be clear and transparent about what you’ve achieved and what you can do.
Sum up what it’s like to work for the Ministry of Justice
Our people are everything. We deal with multiple stakeholders simultaneously which is both rewarding and challenging at times, but it’s such a nice environment to work in, and everyone is helpful, approachable and willing to support you.