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Why I still love working in Parliament 8 years on

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care, Digital strategy, Focus on core work

Dan Cook

Having spent the last eight years helping with Parliament’s digital transformation, I’m hugely excited to start my new role as Digital Portfolio Director. This job means that I get to play a more instrumental role in PDS’ future.

My career in Parliament so far

I joined Parliament back in 2010, having spent the previous few years working for Hackney Council on a very challenging document and records management project. I’ll never forget walking out of the tube for my interview and being utterly blown away by Westminster: by the buildings, the buzz, and the depth of history and heritage.

Despite being a nervous wreck at my interview, I was offered an entry level project manager role on another challenging document and records management project, something called SPIRE.

What really struck me on my first day in Parliament (despite the English Defence League march that rattled past on my lunch hour), was how friendly and helpful everyone was. And that hasn’t changed in these past eight years. It’s what makes us stand out as an employer and makes me stay.

SPIRE was a fascinating induction into Parliament and I learnt so much in such a short space of time. The technology itself was/is pretty clunky but I remain proud of the way that we engaged with people and supported them in the transition to different technology. It was also my first experience of what a supportive, transparent, and collaborative delivery team can achieve.

Moving over to digital

After working on SPIRE, I moved across to the Digital Service (then called PICT) where I worked on some challenging projects. Having worked outside of the Digital Service, it was fascinating to see inside. I also felt that I had to work doubly hard to build credibility and trust, given lingering suspicions about my SPIRE connections (which was like being a cold war double agent).

The highlight of my time so far was being the programme manager for the 2015 general election. There’s nothing quite like an election in Parliament. Despite making a mess of the Apple Mac service offering (which continues to haunt me), we did a great job overall, especially as PICT was becoming PDS at the same time.

What’s important to me

My main priority is keeping the Portfolio team on track and completing what we started. Many critical programmes are coming to a close in the next 12 months so moving these programmes into sustainable and integrated services will be critical to our future success.

Looking to the future, the restoration and renewal work means the Parliamentary buildings we’ll be using will be the greatest challenge for us in PDS. We need to make sure that we’re equipped to meet these demands and to build on our ability to support the future of Parliament.

I’ll also be doing my best to focus on team health across the portfolio staff. Looking after people and making sure they’re supported and developed is really important to me. People are our greatest asset so I’m a massive fan of the values work that Tori Baker led on for PDS and we need to do more to instill these across the department.

I’ll be trying to do my bit by volunteering as a mentor, helping people develop their careers and prepare for new opportunities, building strong networks, and hosting more thank you parties.

Read more about the cultural values in PDS

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