My career story: James Allen

Job title and department or organisation

James is an Energy Tax Analyst at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). His role matches the role of Assistant Economist on the Analysis Function Career Framework.


James works at Higher Executive Officer (HEO) grade.

Profession and entry route

James is a member of the Government Economic Service (GES).

James joined the Civil Service at Executive Officer (EO) grade as part of a departmental recruitment round. He then joined the GES Fast Stream programme.

James’ career path

I achieved my undergraduate economics degree but after I graduated, I was unsure what I wanted to do for a career. I liked economics but I knew I did not want to work in finance, which was the main path you were directed to go down after university. So, I started working in the private sector for the AQA exam board working in social media and giving advice in a customer service role.

I joined HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in March 2019 as I liked the idea of working in the Civil Service. I joined as a Compliance Case Worker at Executive Officer (EO) grade, which was an analytical role but not badged to an analytical profession. I enjoyed the job and the culture of the Civil Service (CS) so I decided to look at opportunities to advance my career through the Fast Stream. After a few attempts, I got a place on the Economics Fast Stream in August 2021 as an Assistant Economist at Higher Executive Officer (HEO) grade.

My first Fast Stream post was as a Score Card Analyst. This involved looking at tax changes in budgets and making a list of changes to provide to ministers. My second post was in the Central Co-ordination Team. In this role I worked to analyse energy taxes, which involved forecasting revenues and producing estimates for tax energy changes. Both posts have been within HMRC. In September I am moving to another department for my final placement within the Fast Stream.

Where I work you do not need a specific degree in economics. You can come from any analytical background to work in my role.

The flowchart shows James’ career progression from achieving his university degree to his current role. It shows the step-by-step journey James has taken to achieve his current grade and experience within the Civil Service Fast Stream. Enlarge the flowchart.

I’m working on forecasting energy tax revenues and producing cost estimates for potential tax policy changes.

I want to get to a point where I feel like I am an expert in my field, but I do not know what that topic area is yet. My previous manager was so knowledgeable and would be asked loads of questions, and I aspire to be like that.

I am proud of the work I do day-to-day and that I can reference specific things that have been recognised. For example, the Chancellor used analysis I had produced within his budget speech. It was great to watch the speech live on TV and know I had contributed to that work. As a Civil Servant, I am most proud of producing good analysis that ministers are interested in.

My biggest challenge was working out what I wanted to do as a job in the first place. Now I am in an analytical role, I know this is what I want to do for my career, but it was difficult finding the right role or opportunity to start with.

James’ advice

Do not just look at analytical roles to apply for. Consider working in other non-analytical areas of the Civil Service to gain experience. I started working in the Civil Service as a non-badged analyst and then found the economics Fast Stream. I have gained a lot from working in more operational roles before joining an analytical role.

And do not give up. By the time I got on Fast Stream I had failed three times, so keep persevering with what you want to do.

This career story was published on Tuesday 1 August 2023.