Government Case Study - Natasha Hale

"The public sector has the opportunity to makes Wales great, but only if we take responsibility to drive change from within."

That’s the staunch view of a Natasha Hale who has fought to make the public sector work harder for the creative industries in Wales. It was back in the nineties when Natasha worked in the music industry that she recognised Wales wasn’t reaching its full potential. At a chance meeting with politician Peter Hain, she took it upon herself to explain why, resulting in a 30-year career of sparking innovation throughout the public sector.

We were celebrating Welsh music but not retaining the copyright which meant we were losing out economically”, she explains. “Creativity wasn’t being recognised as a driver for business.

Recognising an opportunity to think innovatively, Natasha’s proposal led to her forming the Welsh Government’s first Welsh Music Foundation, driving a respect for the economic value of music and supporting the retention of copyright and intellectual property. She went on to co-write Wales’ first creative strategy and later became Head of Creative Industries and Deputy Director of Sectors and Business at Welsh Government. Throughout these roles, she’s helped to bring £100m of new spend into Wales by tackling what she saw were stumbling blocks to real achievement and innovation. In one example, she helped freelancers become recognised as an asset in the creative industries and attracted television companies from Hollywood and London to film in Wales through grants which delivered a minimum £12 return spend on Welsh SMEs for every £1 invested.

Strategies are great but success is all about delivery,” declares Natasha. “Engrained public sector processes aren’t always set up to deliver to the ever-changing real needs of new and innovative business. You’re never going to deliver innovation if you don’t get down into the system and change things from the bottom up.

This is a challenge that Natasha believes every single person in the public sector is responsible for. “People have to lead the way for change,” she says. “Innovation is in all of us and is driven by the fact we’re all different. The first thing we need to do is embrace differences and diversity. It’s the different experiences of people inside the public sector that will show us how to better deliver for the people outside. If you’re linear and just listen to the same people or mirrors of yourself, you’ll never find anything new. We have change systems and processes to allow more diversity in government which will lead to more innovation and innovative thinking. And leaders need to create space and listen to ideas from everyone. When you realise innovation is everywhere, you can start listening to people’s ideas and experiences and this will bring innovation into the wider organisation.”

And what makes Welsh public sector organisations different? According to Natasha, it’s the potential we’re sitting on.

She adds: “Wales is a small, clever country and it should be easier for us to come together and do exciting, innovative things. We’ve got to try new things, go for new ideas and we can’t be afraid of failure. Sometimes we will fail. But if we are all as innovative as we can be, we can change Wales for good in a fundamental and ambitious way.”