Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spotlight on...... Georgina Goode


We continue our series of inspirational interviews with Georgina Goode.

Georgina is Group Head of Engagement and Social Media at the Government Digital Service (GDS) – the team within Cabinet Office tasked with transforming government services. Her responsibilities cover digital communications strategy, content, risk management, channel operations and building digital capability across UK government. She is a spokesperson for best practice digital engagement strategy as part of wider business transformation, including advising a number of international governments; plus is author of HM Government’s Social Media Playbook.  

Prior to joining the Government, Georgina worked at marketing agency Kindred as Associate Director and Head of Social; establishing the agency's award-winning social media division for clients including The National Lottery, IKEA and ‘make mine Milk’. She has over 10 years experience in digital marketing in both the public and private sectors covering all aspects of paid, earned and owned media.

You can find her on Twitter here and LinkedIn here
  
       1.    Who are you, what is you current role?

I lead the strategic direction for digital engagement across social media; providing a public service to citizens via @GOVUK and corporate engagement for GDS. I also oversee all the communications activities for the Digital Group at GDS. This encompasses GOV.UK – the single website for government, designed to make information and services clear and accessible; Government as a Platform – GDS’s work in the building of shared digital platforms and components designed to make the assembly of digital services easier; and GOV.UK Verify - a new way for citizens to prove who they are when they use government services online and the first of its kind in the world.

2.       What’s the most exciting part of your role?

Being given the autonomy to set the vision on how we do things in social. I strongly believe social media has an important part to play in wider business transformation (in short: saving money, streamlining processes, improving lines of communication, providing data and insight) and by being given the opportunity to shape how we do things, I get to work with some incredible digital talent including content designers, data scientists, developers and user researchers. It’s hugely motivating to get to work with such brilliant people because you learn so much! Plus, without sounding too worthy, the digital transformation work taking place within GDS and across wider government is genuinely improving people’s lives – it’s great to be a part of that.

3.       What personal and professional strengths do you think have been crucial to your success?

Understanding that being good at what you do is only half the job. Lots of people do a good job. You need to differentiate yourself and that means going above and beyond. Having ambition is great but you need to be clear on what you are going to deliver (and some) to demonstrate you’re worth it. I’ve never felt afraid or embarrassed to talk about my career aspirations – after all you need your employer to be as invested in your career as you are.

I’ve also understood that I’m a ‘work in progress’ – that the only way I can improve and add value is by continuing to learn and gain experience from others. This has meant that I have actively involved myself with networking initiatives outside of work throughout my career. I was part of Bloom, a women’s networking, mentoring and fundraising group for a number of years; I attend and speak at industry events on digital marketing and female leadership. Plus mentoring. I have gained so much insight from mentoring a number of young women, who I know will be the next tranche of female leaders. Getting an insight into their concerns and how they perceive the sector/industry changing has certainly given me valuable understanding to take back into the workplace.

4.       What is the most challenging thing you’ve done in your career to date? 
          
    It has to be balancing starting a family with my career. The concept of ‘having it all’ sets unrealistic expectations for new mums in the work place and can put women under unnecessary pressure – particularly if your career has had a fast trajectory. The truth is it’s hard work and you do need to make compromises. That said, I’m lucky to be working in an industry where remote working is possible  - everything we do at GDS cloud based. Plus, GDS is massively supportive of working parents with options such as regular working from home days, flexitime and job shares available - options which I know aren’t necessarily available for working parents elsewhere. They absolutely should be! expectations for new mums in the work place and can put women under unnecessary pressure – particularly if your career has had a fast trajectory. The truth is it’s hard work and you do need to make compromises. That said, I’m lucky to be working in an industry where remote working is possible  - everything we do at GDS cloud based. Plus, GDS is massively supportive of working parents with options such as regular working from home days, flexitime and job shares available - options which I know aren’t necessarily available for working parents elsewhere. They absolutely should be!


   
       5.       If you were mentoring your younger self knowing what you now know what advice would you give?

Don’t fear change. It’s how you move forwards and gain experience.  And if you’ve made the wrong choice, learn from it. It’s these experiences that make you a more interesting person.
 
6.      Have you got any role models? Who are they and why are they your role models?

I couldn’t single anyone out in particular as I am surrounded by positive female role models at GDS – from young developers who are helping build digital capability across government to Programme Directors who are leading the government’s transformation agenda from the front.

I would add though, that having role models, be it line managers or mentors, is an important part of any career development – in particular those individuals who challenge you and encourage you to think differently. I’ve been fortunate that I have great managers and mentors throughout my career – both men and women.

7.       What are your top 3 interests outside of work?

I have two children under three so interests outside of work are currently few and far between. On a Saturday, instead of the morning run, you’ll find me in the local soft play – in fact – I’m here right now answering these questions!

8.       What kind of career would you have in an alternative universe? 

TV presenter (I’d love to take over Spencer Kelly’s job on BBC Click – he’s had that gig for years now!)…or an actress in some really trashy soap opera.

9.       What are the major barriers facing women in tech today

I struggle with the word barriers – it’s a perceived concept and I truly believe if you want something enough, you will get it. However, I do think there is still more work to do at a grass roots level – to encourage more girls into tech-related professions. The truth is men still heavily dominate the industry. I actually don’t see this as a employer diversity issue (it’s certainly not been in my experience), it’s just we need more women to jump on board!
I would also add that employers need to up the ante when it comes to flexible working patterns for parents. Too many women feel like they need to give up their careers or take extended time out when ultimately we have the technology to do the same job, remotely. I work full time with two of those days from home, so a lot of my time is spent collaborating with my team using Google Docs, Hangouts, Basecamp and Trello. There is no reason why we all need to be sitting in the same room all of the time.

10.   What’s the one piece of advice that has always stuck with you

Never sell yourself short. If you don’t believe in yourself – no one else will.



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