Head of Profession: Rachel Skentelbery

Rachel Skentelbery is the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Deputy Head of Profession for Statistics at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

My biggest work-related accomplishment

I was fortunate to be able to contribute to lots of the work that ONS did at the start of the pandemic. While it was a difficult time for all of us, from a work point of view it was a very exciting and fast-paced environment to be in. I worked with lots of people across government and the wider public sector who were setting up surveys to answer important questions. I offered advice on statistical methodology to help them with their work. I also helped set up the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS), which offered very important data to inform decision making.

How I started my career in statistics

I loved statistics at University, it was the subject that made the most sense to me. I travelled a bit after University and then saw an advert for Methodologists at ONS. It seemed to fit with what I was interested in, so I applied and was fortunate to get the job. I have worked at ONS for a lot of my career but have also worked in other government departments, which has been a really good experience.

The best skills I bring to the job

I’m good at working at pace, and getting things done quickly certainly helps in my current role! I also love learning and problem solving. I think one of the skills that has helped in my career is breaking problems down and looking at different ways to make progress.

One thing I wish I knew before I joined the Civil Service

I wish I had known about the amazing support you can get from the cross-GSS network. I wish that I had used this opportunity sooner. There are such knowledgeable people across the GSS, who can help you with problems by sharing their experiences, act as brilliant sounding boards, and also give advice on career moves.

The biggest influence on my approach to work

Frank Nolan, was one of my bosses when I first worked in Methodology at ONS and he was definitely an influence. He was an amazing statistician, had brilliant ideas, and also really cared about inclusivity.

My dream career as a child

I wanted to become a doctor, until I realised I didn’t like the sight of blood!