The Forties

In these dog days of my 40s I am just having a bit of a look back. They were quite a roller-coaster one way or t’other. Some really high highs and low lows. Not least my weight! I’ve been as heavy as 19+ stone/121kg and down to 14.5 stone/92kg. These days I am somewhere in between. See the selfies below for evidence!

I got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, had Covid at least twice, got hit by a car and burned out twice (badly) which left me with anxiety issues.

I also travelled more in my 40s than the rest of my life combined – despite two years of lockdown and bought a lot of trainers and art. In fact I bought my first pair of collectable Adidas for my 40th birthday and my first limited edition print from a street artist a couple of weeks later in NYC.

If you include my consultancy stints – and I will because it makes for a better list – I worked at the following during this decade –>

– Office for National Statistics
– Defra
– mySociety
– Notbinary
– [Notbinary] DVLA
– [Notbinary] BBC
– [Notbinary] UK Hydrographic Office
– [Notbinary] MHCLG
– [Notbinary] Food Standards Agency
– [Notbinary] Cancer Research UK
– Foundry4
– [Foundry4] BEIS
– [Foundry4] PGS
– [Foundry4] Essex County Council
– [Foundry4] Welsh Government
– [Foundry4] Department for Education
– [Foundry4] Livestock Information Limited
– UK Health Security Agency
– Department for International Trade
– Department for Business and Trade

Phew! I learned loads but there must have been an easier way to do it 🙂

When I turned 40 one of my ambitions was to get over my fear of public speaking and while I am not sure I ever really did that the fear stopped stopping me from doing it. I gave 30+ in person talks between 2014 and 2019 – including presentations in the US, New Zealand and Canada – and an uncounted amount of online talks during the lockdown years.

I blogged a lot – on multiple platforms it comes to almost 600 posts – and advocated for it as a practice pretty much consistently. The ONS Digital blog – originally on with a domain and account I paid for out of my own pocket (it was a simpler time) was a big part of changing the narrative about the digital and technology capabilities of the organisation – just by being open and transparent about the issues as well as the successes. It reinforced my belief in the power of working in the open – something that has never shifted.

My jobs newsletter also started in the early days of this decade – something I suspect I am primarily known for these days. Which is wild as it was a barely considered side hustle in the early days. It hasn’t got any easier to recruit for digital roles into the Civil Service though.

Do I have another decade in me professionally? Honestly I doubt it. It has been more than 10 years of the GDS era and honestly it still feels like we are fighting so many of the same battles and it is exhausting. I do love the work still and the people though currently I’m embroiled in something that reminds me of the less enjoyable elements of the working environment.

Anyway I am lucky to have the career I have these last 10 years – I’ve worked alongside so many brilliant people and on some difficult, high profile projects that taught me loads and opened up so many doors – including those to Buckingham Palace if you were wondering about the suit!


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