A Restorative Return

Okay that last post was a bit of a Debbie Downer (popular though – people love a sob story!). So here is the flip-side, positive follow-up.

In the end I stopped work with Notbinary/Foundry4/TPX late August 2021 and then spent six months recharging – longer than I’d planned but that was not a bad thing.

I returned to work in mid-March at UKHSA but this proved to be a false start due to reasons outside of my (or the folks who hired me) control.

While short-lived it was a useful little Alpha experiment on what I wanted to do and also reminded me that for all its flaws and issues I do feel comfortable in the Civil Service and I understand its rhythms and eccentricities. 

I’d previously been pretty sure that I didn’t want to return to the Civil Service – I’m sure you can guess some of the big picture reasons but on a more personal level I was sure I didn’t want to become a Senior Civil Servant (not that I was sure anyone would have me) and had got it into my head that a return to the level I was at when I left ONS would be a backward step.

On the other hand I had become clear about the things I wanted from a role;

I wanted to focus on the product people not the delivery of products – in particular I was/am interested in building product capability in organisations through coaching, recruiting and learning & development.

I was interested in taking on a longer term project – thinking in years rather than months – where I could nurture a sustainable, supportive community with shared principles that contributed to a wider culture that people sought out so they could do their best work.

I wanted to be able to break out of a Product silo and encourage an approach that embraced the whole team mentality – with professions bleeding into each other where it makes sense and everyone sharing a sense of that positive culture.

I wanted to be a part of something bigger – to be able to lean into the network I’ve spent all these years growing for the benefit of other people locally and internationally. 

Oh and I wanted to be able to spend some time back in an office with people. In the end I got to quite appreciate remote working but it was clear I needed a bit more structure and human contact.

..and of course I wanted to be able to work in the open and blog to my hearts content without panicking a Press Office. 

The more i thought about what this meant the more I also realise that – for now at least – I also had zero ambition left. I wanted to do all of this at a level where I was comfortable, empowered and trusted but without a great deal of other responsibilities where I could concentrate on supporting the ambitions of others.

So when I came across the Head of Product Profession at DIT job ad I was excited. On paper it seemed exactly what I was looking for. I also knew some of the folk there already and liked and respected them and – I’ll be honest – DIT was a Department where I had no baggage when it came to their (our) policies.

So I applied and was interviewed. I was also interviewed at the same time by GDS (I tanked the interview), BT (was offered the role) and the BBC (withdrew after the first interview) and was talking to a couple of other places but after the first interview I had decided that if offered DIT was where I was going to go. The financial package was the worst of all of them (and so much less than what one consultancy offered me to put myself through that hell again) but I had come away from both interviews with them believing it was where I belonged – and that had only really happened at Jisc and ONS before.

Anyway I got the job and now here I am a couple of months later and I remain convinced it was the right decision. It is far from an easy role – there is a lot to do and a lot to get my head around but it just feels like a good fit. The people are great – smart, committed and open. Though some of them are so blooming young. I know I play on the Village `Elder bit but that really is part of my role here.

Like I said earlier I understand the rhythm of the Civil Service – even if the beat of it all has been a bit more Gabber pace these last couple of months!

Anyway – hopefully this balances the other post out. I’m in a good place mentally, doing the work I love, with people I like, in an organisation that I can understand. Not sure you can ask for much more than that.

2 responses to “A Restorative Return”

  1. This is a really illuminating pair of posts, and I’m glad to have read them. I admire the candour and the clarity. Here’s hoping you continue to thrive.

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