Programming to product management

Louise is a product manager within Shared Channel Experience. In her role she is responsible for working cross organisationally to ensure the best possible services for citizens and customers.  

I started programming when I was about 10 years old, helped along by my dad. I got a degree in computer science twenty years ago and have worked in digital roles ever since. Having worked in developer roles for ten years, I found myself moving into product management roles. 

I joined DWP Digital two years ago, moving around teams, and learning a lot along the way. I’ve now settled in my current department in a product lead role within shared channels. 

Cultivating collaboration 

I work with product managers and development teams to bring our vision for our products to life. 

I bring the team together across the country to work with other teams and achieve our product goals. We’re developing cross-cutting services to work with our different benefit systems. That means working with operations and people in digital who work on different products and services. Each day we get to work with someone new.  

Key skills for product managers include understanding the problems that we need to solve, how we can best deliver value, what work needs to be prioritised, and making sure the teams are achieving the right outcomes. 

There’s also a need for good communication. You are the voice of the product, so it’s important to bring people on the journey with you and help them understand the vision for the product. 

Are there enough women working in tech?

In DWP Digital, we’re pretty good on gender balance, but my experience is that it’s not like that everywhere. For the fourth consecutive year, DWP has been listed as one of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women, which recognises those employers that are leading the way on workplace gender equality. 

I’d love more to happen to get women into IT. I see the divide happening from an early stage in education. Coding’s is sometimes still typically a boy thing in school. 

I took my son to coding club, and I was shocked that there weren’t any girls there. There weren’t any mums either, just dads and their sons. 

Until those 9 or 10-year-old girls are realising that it’s an option for them, they’re not going to go into it later in life. 

You can have a fantastic career in digital. There are so many different jobs and roles that you can do. More women need to need to be aware of the opportunities for career development within government. 

Moving from private sector to government digital

I was in a very commercial role in a social housing organisation, working with a product aimed at reducing arrears.  

Ultimately, I was in a job to make that private company money. I wanted to be somewhere where I could help real people. And for lots of us, that’s why we’re here. 

We’re here to help some of the most vulnerable people in society, whether it’s to claim pension or benefits. 

Everything we do is about helping those people. And it can be challenging because you can’t do everything at once. 

The most important career lesson

I’ve learned one really important thing in my career: be ambitious, and don’t limit yourself. If I limit myself, I’ve already failed.  

Always aim high, think about where you really want to go, then get the support that you need to get there.  

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