Hi, I'm Natalie the Product Owner for Bereavement Support Payments. I recently joined DWP and the Product Owner profession following my decision to change career.
A new digital career
In my previous role I was a map maker! Specifically I was a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) expert. This basically involved creating maps, working with spatial and environmental data and developing digital services, including some Python coding.
I've always worked in an agile way, but when a new digital service was needed within my previous organisation, I took my first steps into the ‘Product Owner’ profession. In an organisation that knew little of agile and favoured a waterfall approach, especially in governance, being one of the first to break through was a challenge.
Writing on the walls
On a visit to DWP’s digital delivery centre last year I realised this was the type of environment I wanted to work in. One where people can be creative, write on walls, listen to users and work with a range of people to deliver great products.
So when DWP advertised Digital Product Owner roles at Christmas time, I was straight in. I even applied on holiday!
Ceremonies, scrum and all things agile
At the end of March I joined DWP and the Bereavement Support Payment team.
Our vision is to ‘Empower people to get the bereavement payment they're entitled to quickly, easily and via the channel that suits them best’. We have a strong user-centred design for our service which was highly praised when we passed our recent Alpha assessment. My team is full of fantastic people who are experts in their fields, fun, passionate and were totally supportive while I learnt the ropes.
I'm excited to work in a digital environment where the words ceremonies, scrum and agile don't result in blank faces. Since joining the team I’ve led a review to refine the scope of our minimal viable product and looked at how we can achieve what we need to. I’m learning a lot from my team (even the technical stuff) and I'm keen to get involved in all things digital.
So many people think that a career change isn’t possible for them as they haven’t got the right experience. But my advice is that as long as your skills are transferrable then you should just go for it. Take a look at the Product Owner job descriptions on our DWP Digital Careers website; even if you’re doing some different right now, you might find that you have exactly the right skills for the role.