July 2020

I recently applied for an interesting community management job which is detailed on a separate page. The application was a bit rushed (ie could have been better) but below is my personal statement. Each bullet point is an essential criteria from the person specification:


• Demonstrable expertise in community management and engagement in a digital, data or technology field

I was the first person in the Government Digital Service (GDS) and possibly government to do the job of Community Development Management in the DDaT profession. I worked with a consultant to build the fledgling Service Manager community. It was a hard slog and gave me a real understanding of the energy and commitment required to build a community from scratch. Nowadays I'm involved in many communities and understand the need to help community members find their voice and step up to help run things. I'm particularly involved in the Delivery Management community where I co-run a monthly meetup and have helped organise and run both of the DeliverCon events.


• Experience in building an active, supportive community that helps its members learn.

I was asked to help out at the first One Team Gov unconference in 2017 which as one off event was reasonably successfully. But I saw the possibility of the movement so started running a weekly breakfast to build momentum and have done so continously for 3 years with help from dedicated volunteers. The breakfast's success spawned lunchtime and teatime meetups which I've also been involved in and eventually spread around the UK and beyond to Canada, Australia, Finland and other countries. We are continously sharing and learning from each other at ever meetup and event we run, and have gone virtual since the coronavirus lockdown hit.


• Ability to energise interest and engage with an audience for example by means of public speaking, running workshops and events.

I was asked to work on a world first open data project to publish 10,000 brand new datasets in 12 months. This meant going round the various parts of the organisation and convincing people why this was the right thing to do. I also led monthly meetings of a user group of senior data professionals, including workshops on various aspects of the project. I built a real community spirit in the user group and always made the workshops useful and fun. I also organised and ran several conferences using the open space technology format, notably hosting the end of project conference and successfully introducing the Secretary of State to the audience even thou I'd forgotten their name (-:


• A commitment to providing great digital services.

The years I spent in GDS ingrained into me the importance of user research, design and the iterative approach agile brings. This has stuck with me in all the jobs I've done since and I've continuously used this knowledge to improve all of the services I've come into contact with. I've recently joined the Civil Service Reform team and are currently working to improve the digital engagement platform at shapingourfuture.civilservice.gov.uk focusing first on going from a PDF as our main product to an HTML based version on GOV.UK


• A track record of successful performance management and building capability.

I ran a team of 6 relationship managers in Cabinet Office who helped government organisations understand and publish transparency data, and built a very strong relationship with the open data community, even helping to establish the open data camp community and events. I line manager, mentor and coach junior delivery managers and have received good feedback. I've successful dealt with performance management issues in the UKGovCamp core organisers team which I led for several years, and changed the diversity and capabilities of that team before retiring in 2019.


• Strong organisational skills, preferably managing teams across organisational boundaries

I helped organised the United Kingdom Governent Camp (UKGovCamp.com) 7 years in a row with different teams of public, private and charity sector volunteers. As lead organiser for 4 of those year, I ran a core team of 8 organisers and a wider team of 30 volunteers drawn from across the GovCamp community. I successfully introduced a lottery for tickets which had always oversubscribed which also increased diversit, increased the sponsorship levels to record levels and oversaw procurement of the first creche for GovCamp attendees. I've also recently done some initial work for GovCampNorth which is currently in the planning stages.


• An ability to work at a fast pace and deliver

I joined GDS 1 month before GOV.UK went live (or to be more accurate 1 month before DirectGov and Business Link were switched off) as a Support Lead in the GOV.UK User Support team. I had that time to figure out how to build from scratch the support model for the Contracts Finder service and how to transition existing Business Link users. Post switch over I reduced the resulting 500 user support requests by 90% in the 1st week.


• Strong writing skills and with an understanding of governance structures

I edited the original community development handbook for GOV.UK which you can read at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-development-handbook/community-development-handbook and worked within the GOV.UK governance structures to gain content designer time and approval to publish.