Moving on from W+K

Today is my last day at W+K London.

Starting next week, I join the Government Digital Service. You might already have heard of GDS and the single government domain (GOV.UK beta) project, which is rather exciting. If not, here’s Danny O’Brien writing about poacher turned gamekeeper, Tom Loosemore, which should set the scene nicely.

I’m joining a brilliant department. They’ve been bringing in some seriously good developers and building an exciting multi-disciplinary team. Most recently, Ben Terrett (also ex W+K) joined as Head of Design, and Russell Davies is now lending a hand too. Exciting times.

How is it that *The Government* is one I the most exciting start-ups in Britain right now? #govuk

What will I be doing? Well, I’ll be product manager for the Innovation team. Last year they launched the e-petitions site, which in its first 100 days received an impressive 18 signatures per minute. I hope to work on some similarly interesting problems and make some interesting and useful things. There’s a lot to do, and having fun with government services is an opportunity too good to miss.

Leaving W+K was a difficult decision though. Especially because I know that I’ll miss it, and the people there, very much. Leaving after 14 months, just when things are finally falling in to place and I feel at home, feels like a very strange thing to do. On the other hand, it’s good to be leaving on a high. Things have never been better. It’s been a privilege to work with such amazing people on such a wide range of projects, from the Kaiser Chiefs album launch to Cravendale’s ‘cats with thumbs’ and everything in between. There are some seriously good things coming up later this year too.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year-and-a-bit, and I learned more from my mistakes than the things I got right. Perhaps the thing that stuck with me most was some  advice for new joiners that I read on my first day, which said, if you are wondering whose job it is, it’s probably yours.

When Ben left W+K, he wrote about what makes W+K great. Like the BBC and IBM before that, it’s a place I’ll remember fondly, full of people I’ll miss seeing around.

Goodbye, W+K. Hello, GDS.

Moving on from the BBC

I’m excited to announce that I’ve accepted the position of Head of Emerging Platforms at Wieden+Kennedy London, where I start on the 1st of December.

Wieden+Kennedy are an advertising agency with an amazing track record. You’ll know them for Honda ‘Cog’, Nokia ‘Dot’, Nike ‘Write the Future’ and (of course) lots more. Recently, you might have noticed them doing some rather interesting work with things like Nike Grid and ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ for Old Spice. Clearly a company with big ideas and, I was happy to learn, a desire to get even deeper into helping their clients explore what’s next.

Joining Wieden + Kennedy is an incredibly exciting opportunity. I’ll be building on my experience of heading up social media at BBC Vision, and am looking forward to helping W+K continue their journey of learning how to communicate in new and inventive ways which reach and excite people. Joining the London office and getting to work with the amazing talents in both the planning and creative teams is going to be an awful lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get started.

While in many ways the decision to leave the BBC was a relatively easy one, I’m still going to miss it greatly. It’s been two-and-a-bit years since I joined, and in that time I’ve been fortunate to have worked on some brilliant projects with an amazing range of clever and creative people.

The small but perfectly formed social media team in Vision which I built from scratch probably represents my biggest achievement. They’re all amazing, and the way they support BBC Vision (both the multiplatform teams and increasingly the TV types themselves in Vision Productions) is fantastic. The nice things people say about me these days are usually because of them. They de-mystify and de-risk the strange world of ‘social media’ for the BBC every day, making sure it’s more than just a scary unknowable concept or a meaningless buzzword, and they do this with and for the people who work on some of the most well known TV brands in the UK. Rowan, Fiona, Dan and Gary (and Kat, who recently moved in to a new role in BBC R&D) you are my heroes and I’ll miss having you around to make me look good.

I won’t list all of the (literally hundreds) of projects I’ve been involved with since I joined, but Buzz, the BBC TV Blog and Games Grid deserve a special mention. Though in all three cases the credit is due to others, I’m more delighted than I can express to have had responsibility for them. Thanks everyone, and good luck with the future.

What are those dots anyway?

It’s been my privilege to have worked with and for some amazing people at the BBC. As you’ll know, it’s an organisation in the middle of some difficult times at the moment, not least in defining the scope of its mission online. I hope its leadership will be able to act bravely and set a clear direction that matches the breadth of the BBC’s charter in delivering its public purposes as well as the ambition and creativity of its staff.

By the way, I should be clear: this isn’t redundancy and my role at the BBC isn’t going away when I leave. Next month, someone else will get to have all the fun – and of course the frustrations – that I do now. And no doubt they’ll have their own ways of doing things. Probably better ones. :-)

Goodbye, BBC. Hello, W+K.

Moving on from IBM

Having been an IBMer for more than 10 years, I’m moving on.

I’ve accepted the position of Portfolio Executive, Social Media at BBC Vision. What that means is that I’ll be helping to define, develop and execute BBC Vision’s strategy in relation to social media. Simon Nelson gave a speech in September 2007 about some of the progress made (and challenges faced) by the BBC in regard to multiplatform (more discussion about that here). That’s the backdrop to what I’m going there to help with. No doubt I’ll talk more about the specifics in the coming weeks and months. Oh, and I get to work with such cool people as Dan Taylor and Jo Twist.

Hursley House
IBM, Hursley, Hampshire
BBC Television Centre
BBC, Wood Lane, London

10 years is a long time (I got my pen last year) so although I’m very excited about the new role I always knew that I’d be sad when the day finally came to leave IBM. Hursley is a great place to work, but more than anything I’ll miss spending time with some very good friends who work there.

Things I’ll miss about IBM:

  • Friends. Lots of friends. So many very good friends. The good thing is that we don’t have to lose touch, but not seeing you all around on the intranet and in person is going to be sad. (Which leads us on to…)
  • Regular tea runs. The Hursley Cha Bar is a sort of second home. 66p for a small PG Tips. The Starbucks in White City just might not be the same.
  • Hursley itself. The site is a big gorgeous leafy campus with a nice walk around the site, a library, a reading room, 2 pubs in walking distance as well as an onsite bar/clubhouse and a couple of thousand geniuses. It’s beautiful.
  • A short drive to work, with a lift-share. (A train + tube journey from Southampton to Wood Lane is probably going to hurt a little bit, even factoring in some working on the train. I haven’t started yet and I’m already looking forward to the London Overground line opening. Southampton – Clapham Junction – Shepherd’s Bush has to be better than Southampton -> Waterloo – Bond St – White City)

Incredibly, I’ve been an IBMer ever since I finished school and started my degree as a sponsored student, way back in 1997. I was initially based in North Harbour before relocating to Hursley because that was where the interesting technical work seemed to be. I had roles in middleware development teams including spells in test, service and development. I’m glad to say that each role was more interesting and fun than the last. I have never had a master plan. I’ve never had long term goal, other than to say yes to everything I physically can, and have as much fun as possible.

In more recent times, that attitude has meant helping develop Business Integration for Games (before IBM, or the world, really took games seriously). I went on to be the the lead developer for a small messaging product called Microbroker before joining the Emerging Technology Services team making proof of concept and first of a kind prototypes for clients. Most recently, I was pleased to see that it really is possible to carve out a new role when I joined Ian in calling myself a Metaverse Evangelist and we were both picked up by the CIO office’s Innovate Quick team on a virtual remote assignment.

I got to meet a lot of clients and business partners in this role, so I know very well that IBM continues to impress people as being surprisingly advanced and interesting for a company of its age and size. Not only that, but IBMers are treated as grown ups; we get to use our common sense. If it was not for the freedom and trust which IBMers enjoy, I’d have left a very long time ago.

The thing that has made IBM such a great place to spend a third of my life (!) is the people I’ve worked with. Don’t lose touch – I’ll still be on LinkedIn, blogging, Twittering, etc.

I’ve worked with some great people and on some great projects, and it’s good to be leaving on a high. I don’t regret anything about my time at IBM, and I’m only going because it’s time for me to have even more fun elsewhere.

Goodbye, IBM. Hello, BBC.

Update: I’m overwhelmed by your lovely comments, compliments and travel tips. Thank you, everyone.

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