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My first impressions of DWP

My name's Pippa and I've recently joined DWP Digital as a senior product owner in the new Manchester hub.  

Pippa Peasland
Pippa Peasland

A bit about me and product management

I started my career at an advertising agency and worked my way through digital communications into product management. I think having a communications background is really helpful for product managers because we handle a lot of stakeholder engagement and need a deep understanding of our users. I love being a product manager in government now because I’m part of a huge community of people all working together to solve important problems.

Why I joined DWP

I joined DWP in January to work across 3 product teams in the Digital Working Age directorate. They are working on the ‘Prove You Can Apply’ and ‘Apply for a Direct Payment of Rent’ services and a discovery around decommissioning one of our legacy systems. These services are critical to helping people get the support they need from DWP and it was the opportunity to work on such important products that made me want to apply for the job.

I’d previously met some members of the team at the cross-government Product People conference in Leeds last autumn and had the opportunity to visit the team before I joined. I was really impressed by the way they were working and how friendly and welcoming they were. Knowing I was going to be joining an established, multi-disciplinary, agile team was another motivating factor for me.

My first impressions of the team

On my third day we moved from Stockport into our new offices in central Manchester. The team have been busy decorating the space with our team canvas, Kudos wall and Kanban boards. We’ve also put up the requisite ‘It’s OK to…’ and ‘Show the Thing’ GDS posters. These help it feel more like home but are also integral to the way we work – collaboratively and in the open, so everyone has an opportunity to input.

My first couple of weeks were spent just getting to know everyone and familiarising myself with the products we look after. DWP is a huge organisation, so there’s loads to learn, but everyone has been happy to answer my questions and eager to hear my perspective as a new joiner. This eagerness to learn and try new ways of working is one of the things I’m already learning to love about my team. Everybody feels comfortable contributing, which is critical to high performing teams and makes for a fun vibe in the office.

Last week I ran an inception workshop to kick off the discovery for our new project. I also joined an interesting show and tell by another team about how they are adopting hypothesis driven design. Tomorrow I’m heading out of the office to observe some usability testing on a prototype we’ve built to see whether it’s working for our users. I love how varied my days are here!

What I hope to achieve in the role

As a product manager, obviously my priority will be to help my teams build the right thing in the right way. But now that we’ve got a new central Manchester location I’d also like to get involved with the local agile community and raise awareness of the opportunities at DWP Digital. I don’t think government is top of mind for technologists looking for jobs at the moment, but if they knew more about the way we work and the important problems we’re solving I think that would change.

I’ve only been a civil servant for the last 2 years and it’s been completely different to what I was expecting. The Civil Service is full of highly skilled digital professionals who want to make a difference. If you’re a technologist who hasn’t considered a job in the Civil Service before, check out the One Team Government website for a flavour of the way we want to work.

If you’d like to talk about career opportunities at DWP Digital in Manchester you can find me on Twitter. You can also subscribe to this blog, follow @DWPDigital on Twitter, visit our DWP Digital Careers website and have a look at our LinkedIn page.

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