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Living by Thatcher’s old adage

THE END OF THE WEEK and Friday night seems to be the evening of choice for civic receptions. The main topic of conversation last week was no surprise……The legacy of the Iron lady. It was pertinent given most of the guests were public servants in one form or another. Whatever your opinion of her politics, you can’t argue that Margaret Thatcher had more courage in her convictions (aka balls) than most men who’ve been in her position since.

I had just turned 15 when Baroness Thatcher left Downing Street and the country was very different in 1990 to when she took office in 1979 but two of her guiding principles hold true even today; ‘live within your means’ and ‘pay your bills on time’. The public sector more than ever is required to live by that adage. Public investment must generate an RoI for the economy and the question is always: “how many jobs will we create and is it sustainable?” Thatcher, whatever your personal political view, opened up the public sector to the world of efficiency and commerce .

Commerciality in the public sector is driven by strong leadership. There is now a greater number of female finance directors and CFO’s than ever before. Baroness Thatcher not only broke the preconception that women could not succeed in positions of power, but shattered it into millions of pieces. She remains the only woman to make it to the top job, and she stayed there for eleven and a half years. It is shown that many companies with better gender equality often produce stronger financial results. Is there a lesson here?

This is my first blog and I look forward to contributing further to the public sector perspective on finance and how I believe it is inextricably linked into the future of our country. And in the words of the Iron Lady herself in her last address at the despatch box…”I’m enjoying this”.

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor is finance director at Hadlow College

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