Digital by Default Discussions: Ben Matthews

BenA bit of a departure in this weeks Discussions. For a start it is a couple of days later than usual (but I am thinking this is a test to see what day is best rather than a scheduling failure!) and also todays ‘victim’ is not someone I have met in person – just via Twitter.

I have followed Futuregov, the company Ben works for, since they were a gleam in their founder Dominic‘s eye. I have watched them grow from basically a one man band giving social media advice to a couple of London councils to a sizeable company doing incredibly interesting projects like Casserole Club and the new Public Service Launchpad.

Ben was a founder of the Twestival organisation that sprung up a couple of years ago – I have hugely fond memories of the first one in Bristol – it is where I met a great many of my Twitter friends for the first time. I have no memories of the second one that I apparently also attended but was ruinously drunk by the time I arrived. So thanks for that Ben 🙂


Looking out the window of my top floor flat in East London, with courtesy view of The Shard.

Current job?

I’m Head of Comms at FutureGov. I’m responsible for the PR and Marketing of all of FutureGov’s products, from Patchwork to Casserole Club, as well as the FutureGov as a company.

Current mobile device?

I’ve got an iPhone 4S, which I upgraded from a iPhone 3G a few months ago. I’m normally one or two models behind the latest releases, which suits my needs.

Current computer?

I’m using a Macbook Air, which I love. I’m often travelling around London quite a lot, so being able to have all my work on me and not be weighed down by a heavy computer is invaluable.  It does run out of space occasionally, so when that happens I have a 64GB USB thumb drive which is about the size of, err, my thumb.

One word that describes how you work?


What is your favourite thing about your job?

I’ve never worked in a place where there’s such a healthy mix of product people, project managers, designers and developers. It’s exciting to talk about a design project in one meeting then go on to hear about the next sprint cycle of a new product.

The other aspect is that everything I’m working on has some kind of social good or public service angle, which means I believe more in the work I’m doing – and (hopefully) means I do my work better too.

What is the biggest challenge that you face in your role?

We have a combination of a flexible working environment and lots happening across the company, so making sure I’m up to speed on all developments that I need to know about can be a challenge. I find that just saying hello to people on the office or making them a cuppa means I get a chance to find out what’s going on, so communicating often and regularly with my colleagues is key.

What’s the access to the internet like in your office?

We have two wifi connections in the office, so if one goes down or is too busy with connections, we always have a back up!

If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?

We’re working across multiple projects so my attention is divided across them all. I’d like to get to know one project really well and put some sustained energy into it over time. But I realise I’m in a privileged position as I get to work on lots of amazing projects!

Besides your phone and your computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

I have lived without my phone and computer for about 6 months in the last year, as I went travelling to South America, so that’s not that much of a big deal for me. I would say my Kindle, but I still love picking up a physical book, so I could live without that too. I guess the Router that sits quietly in the corner of my flat is essential – access to the internet is vital for me.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. I’ve read it before, but it’s a fantastic read, a healthy reminder and a brilliant guide of how to work well with customers and colleagues.

What do you listen to while you work?

I listen to Radio 4 in the morning, then BBC 6Music in the afternoon. I also have a Spotify subscription, so when I fancy a change or to discover new music, I switch over to that.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

No one piece of advice sticks out, but when I’m procrastinating I find this advice prods me back into action: “J.F.D.I.” (Just F*cking Do It!)

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