My second Fast Stream posting was up in Newcastle working on the Single Tier Pension project as a part of what was then called the State Pension Programme. Single Tier’s intention is to simplify the state pension by introducing a flat-rate payment to replace basic and additional pensions. This is a project that will have a massive impact on the UK population, transforming the way that many people will save for their futures.
The job was fascinating. Alongside getting a crash course in Agile project delivery, attending stand-ups, scrums, show-and-tells, and workshops looking at a variety of aspects of the state pension programme, I was tasked with establishing and managing a new change and risk management process for the design team, and trialling and setting up the project and its sites across the UK on an agile project management tool called JIRA.
The work was interesting, especially in a time of change within the programme, and the end goal of what we were all working on obvious: improving people’s livelihoods following reaching state pension age in the UK by reducing inequality and simplifying the process.
I was given the opportunity to manage a small team which I hadn’t done before and the freedom to develop a new process linking in to stakeholders from all over DWP, HMRC and connecting back with contacts from my first posting in the Cabinet Office. I also got the chance to undertake the week-long Prince2 project management qualification back down in London and to achieve Practitioner status (this is really useful when it comes to understanding the basic tenets of project management including, and intrinsic to the role I did, the importance and structure of change and risk management strategies). I also had the pleasure of meeting and befriending a team of great people whom I am otherwise unlikely to have met.
To take up this posting I had to relocate from where I live in London. The process of finding a place to stay for six months was a little difficult and the bulk of flats and shared houses I visited when I went up there (for the two days I gave myself to meet my new colleagues and find a place to live) were absolute no-goes due to wild animals, exceptionally dirty kitchens, or noisy main roads.
After viewing and rejecting four in quick succession, along came a shared house in Jesmond, which I quickly and without much thought snapped up, and vastly enjoyed living in for the ensuing six months, with my seven house-mates who worked in a variety of places and occupations (none of which were the Civil Service).
It was tough getting used to living in a new place, a place which I hadn’t even visited prior to my two day excursion to find digs and meet my new boss, but seriously worthwhile when it came to experiencing a programme and project which were of such significance to the Government and the UK’s population. The change was difficult, but both enlightening and valuable to my long-term career progression.
Project delivery is integral to the Civil Service, and to the UK and even the global jobs market as a whole. There will always be projects, and there will always be a need for people to manage their planning, design, build and delivery. Project delivery in the Civil Service is not just a great opportunity to add value to society by working on and impacting broad sweeping changes affecting the lives of millions, but it is also a fast-paced, interesting, and most importantly fun role which brings different challenges each and every day.