Sheile Thipe commenced her professional career in the banking sector before moving to South Africa’s National Statistic Service, ‘Statistics South Africa in 2001. There, she gained hands on experience in producing economic statistics and knowledge on international standards within the field. In seeking out a more challenging position, Sheila joined the National Treasury in 2003 and has acquired valuable experience in linking statistics to planning and policy evaluation and decision making relating to the national budget. Today, Sheila serves as the Chief Director, Public Finance Statistics at the National Treasury.
As a senior official in the unit mandated with producing credible fiscal data and public finance statistics, Sheila and her colleagues often faced the challenge of missing data whilst conducting analytical work. Therefore, with a team mobilised, they sought to challenge the status quo and embarked on a change process reinforced by the problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) approach. It was a powerful learning process for the team which discovered that leadership isn’t embodied in a single individual, that the freedom to engage others and injecting flexibility in how one works is key to effective problem resolution.
Today problem of data gaps has reduced from to under 0.2% of the data. However, Sheila measures the success of their reform through the relationships that have been forged within Treasury, but particularly with the Departments which no longer seem so far removed and have become real partners.