I’m a senior change and communications manager in PDS. It’s my job to manage and communicate about change which affects our staff in the digital portfolio team, as well as supporting our users through change.
Some of my work involves creating standards and toolkits for people in the team, arranging peer networking, and supporting others to show the benefits of their work. I recently blogged about our praise wall and how portfolio team members supports each other.
I did a film and cultural studies degree and started my career in HR (not the most natural of fits, perhaps). You might be wondering how I ended up doing this job, so I’ve written this post to talk about my career so far.
A little bit of magic (vs reality)
I grew up with a passion for film, TV, and theatre (but mainly film). Give me an 80s movie marathon weekend and I’m happy. For a long time, I thought I wanted a career behind the scenes working in theatrical make-up, but I quickly realised that seeing what goes into making big screen dreams a reality was actually a bit of a drawback for me.
I love the magic and escapism of cinema and the ability to be transported to another world. I didn’t want to lose that magic so I did a theory based degree instead of a practical film-making course.
When I finished my degree, I began temping in admin roles while I worked out where I wanted to go. I started as a temp in the NHS and from there moved to recruitment and HR roles. I stayed there for a couple of years, taking the opportunity to study for a Masters in HR, which I continued during a short contract at the Treasury before coming to Parliament.
By this point, I was starting to realise that HR wasn’t for me. I missed being creative and outward facing and felt too far removed from staff. I really like speaking to people, working collaboratively to solve a problem, and helping people show the value of their work, so moving into a communications role was a good fit for me.
Navigating change and challenges
I’ve worked in a number of communication roles round Parliament over the last ten years or so. My last role was as a senior change and communications manager for a major technology programme, where I worked on defining the strategic change and engagement approach for moving staff over to Office 365.
This was a challenging change programme as it affected staff and MPs and Lords (and their staff) with a wide range of preferred ways of working and varying levels of comfort with new digital tools. I loved the challenge of this programme and working with such a supportive, delivery focused team. It makes such a difference to people’s perceptions and experience of change when you support them through the process and I find this aspect of my work really fulfilling.
In my current role I’m taking my experience gained from other programmes and broadening it out to support behavioural change and adoption of new tools and technologies. This includes leading the work of our Change and Engagement Guild (our professional change and engagement community) to deliver better, more cohesive experiences of change for Parliament, as well as supporting people’s ongoing professional development.
Getting involved in a workplace equality network
One of the best parts of working in Parliament has been getting involved in the workplace equality networks. I was co-chair of ParliOUT, the group that supports LGBTIQ+ people in Parliament, for four years. Its main aim is to make LGBTIQ+ role models from a range of identities and perspectives, more visible and accessible. I also helped develop a Parliamentary role models campaign showcasing supportive and inclusive behaviours.
My time in ParliOUT was incredibly rewarding and the current committee continues to do great work. I stepped down as co-chair a couple of years ago to help give others the opportunity to step up and to continue generating new ideas and enthusiasm for the network. I’d encourage everyone in Parliament to get involved with the equality networks as you get to meet so many new people who are interested in the same causes as you.
I’m really glad that I work somewhere that’s allowed me to have such a varied career, to get involved with networks like ParliOUT, and that is so committed to people’s personal and professional development.
Interested in working at PDS? Find out more about working here.