Making a fresh start in data

Jude smiling at the camera in front of a green wallJude Dennis started her career with a global IT consultancy company, and over 16 years worked with some very talented people on projects for many different clients all over the UK.

“I loved the job as no two days were ever the same,” she says. “But unfortunately just before Christmas 2016 I found myself facing redundancy.”

Her key skills were in Extract, Transform and Load of data (ETL) as a team leader, designer and developer.

“I thought I’d be able to get a new job reasonably easily,” she says. “But there were no ETL jobs in the North East, and now I had a young family.”

She wasn’t willing to go back to consulting and living in hotels all week. Eventually, she found a job with an accountancy software company.

At first it went well, but within a few months it became apparent that it was not the job for her. Then she saw an ETL role with DWP Digital.

“I wanted to get back into a technical role, and the role covered all of my existing skills, and had opportunities to gain new skills in big data,” she says.  “And the salary wasn’t too far off what I used to earn in consulting.”

“I was lucky enough to interview for 3 roles,” she says. “DWP Digital made me a very good offer, so in July 2018 I found myself walking through the doors of the Newcastle hub, both excited and anxious in equal measure.”

Getting stuck into tech

Jude was excited she was going back to a ‘techie’ job.

“It’s something I had wanted since leaving the world of IT consultancy, but I was probably more nervous because I really wanted the role to work out this time,” she says. “My biggest fear was whether I could remember my technical skills. It had been 18 months since I had ‘got my hands dirty’ writing code.”

She needn’t have worried. She had a talented, friendly and supportive team – something she had been desperate for in her previous role.

“There’s a lot to get your head around working for government,” she says. “I discovered I had some wonderful colleagues who were more than happy to sit with me and provide support when I needed help.”

Jude has been in her role a year now, and is thoroughly enjoying it, even though it’s been a steep learning curve.

“My initial fears quickly dissipated and I feel I’m a valuable member, contributing positively to the team,” she says. “I was thrown in at the deep end, coding ETL routines in Informatica and PL/SQL.

“The project I’m currently working on ingests data from Universal Credit to the data warehouse. Where data proves to be tricky, I also hand code PL/SQL scripts.”

Many initiatives, for example Fuel Poverty, require data from the Universal Credit system.

“This validates claimants benefits,” she says. “Getting the data out of Universal Credit and into the data warehouse so that it can be correctly analysed is an important part of the process.”

Refreshing skills and expanding knowledge

Jude has discovered how talented and supportive her colleagues are, managers included.

“They make every effort to answer my endless stream of questions,” she says. “Have I made silly mistakes along the way? Yes, absolutely, but I hope I have learned from each one.”

Since joining DWP Digital, Jude has also taken advantage of the learning and development on offer.

“I’ve refreshed and expanded my knowledge in Informatica, as it had been almost 10 years since I last used it,” she says. “I’ve also been on recruitment interviewer training and will be taking my first interviews shortly.”

And Jude’s team are looking to move to Informatica Big Data Manager in the near future. “I’m excited to learn more about this tool’s capabilities and how we intend to use it,” she says.

Happiness at work

“I’ve only been here a year, so haven’t really given much thought to progressing my career, but then I’m not sure I would want to either,” Jude says. “Having been incredibly unhappy in a purely managerial role at another company, I’m, very happy back in a technical role here at DWP Digital. Happiness at work is far more important to me than anything else.

“I have 2 young children, so for me the flexible working hours and the ability to work remotely are enormously beneficial,” Jude says. “I was pleased with the salary I negotiated, and it’s at the upper end for this type of role in the North East of England.”

So what puts a smile on Jude’s face?

“Interesting and challenging work, and genuinely friendly, supportive and knowledgeable colleagues,” she says. “We have social events where everyone is welcome, and regular well-supported charity events in the office.”

There are also plenty of opportunities to work, share knowledge and best practice, and do ‘show and tell’ presentations with colleagues in other DWP Digital hubs and practice communities.

“So far, the job has given me the technical challenges that I crave, combined with talented and supportive colleagues, and flexible working,” Jude says. “I’m looking forward to seeing where this role will take me in my career.”