Pauline Crellin


  • Job: Director, Universal Credit Programme
  • Organisation: Department for Work and Pensions
  • Years in public service: 14

My grandmother was a…

My grandmother on my maternal side worked nights as a cleaner in a paper factory, and on my paternal side my grandmother was (was then called) a barmaid! My mother was a teaching assistant for children with special educations needs in a primary school. They all worked extraordinarily hard whilst juggling large families, and delighted in the progress of all of their daughters and sons, which was just a lovely environment to be part of. They definitely shaped my view that I could do anything I wanted: their jobs may not have been spectacular but they were the heads, hearts and souls of the whole family.

Me in a paragraph

I come to find myself here in the senior Civil Service through a somewhat convoluted career in both the private and public sectors, characterised by a hugely varied series of roles with one common and extremely strong thread: I don’t remember ever looking at something and thinking that I couldn’t do it. I remember thinking “I don’t want to do that” but I never once thought I couldn’t. The women and men in my family are strong, and bright, and funny, and kind, and everything you’d really want to be. I am so lucky that we were all, girls, boys, women, men, equally nurtured, and cherished, and ribbed, and made fun of, and valued, and loved. I spend quite a bit of time telling my colleagues and the people around me not ever to fall victim to self-exclusive thinking: that you shouldn’t say something because it might be wrong; that you shouldn’t apply for something because you might not be able to do it. It’s nonsense! And if you go to the edge, and step off, I promise that you’ll fly. And if you want my help to do it, then just reach out.

My role

I am the Director of External Affairs, Strategic Design and Planning for Universal Credit. That means I spend a lot of time at work talking to people and organisations and really caring about the impact of Universal Credit on people every day, and working adjustments into the design to make sure that it is the best it can be. It can be overwhelming: the programme is huge, and impacts so many people, and sometimes the few loud voices of dissent can be disheartening. But the good that I see that we do, every single day, and the brilliance shining from all of our people right across the organisation is just amazing, and I know that we’re all working this hard every day from a place of goodness, and from a place where we really care about getting this right.  We make a difference to thousands of people every day: whether we are supporting them after a horrible life event, or providing training, or some much needed financial assistance, or helping people of all ages to get jobs, or progress in the job they are in.  I’m incredibly proud to work in such a fantastic place with such wonderful people, and to know that we do make a real difference.

If I had a magic wand, what I would do to accelerate gender equality?

I would give everyone a magic burst of confidence to go for whatever it is that they want to do, and a gag for that little voice telling you that you shouldn’t or you can’t. Because you should, and you can.

Anything else you’d like to say

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high!
And they came,
and he pushed,
And they flew.

Christopher Logue

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  1. Comment by sparle posted on

    Hello, You mentioned magic word there I agreed 100% about the confidence and stuff but I would say sometimes there is society who stopped you from doing something which you really want to do and yes you are right that if you have confidence then that's the magic that you can do whatever you want. Thanks for the great information and that's great to know about you.

    • Replies to sparle>

      Comment by Pauline Crellin posted on

      Thank you for your response! I agree that it’s not always easy, especially if for whatever reason you’ve been told “you can’t” - and that’s why it’s so important that I can reach out and support others on similar journeys. I am always delighted to do so!


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