My name is Jacob and I just started working at TeachPitch as a product manager. I’m on a six-month secondment from the Civil Service’s Digital, Data and Technology Fast Stream. This is a graduate scheme operated by the British government aimed at creating future leaders with digital skills and awareness which they can utilise when trying to solve some of the challenges faced by government in the 21st Century.
When I first found out I was being seconded to TeachPitch, I was really excited for a variety of reasons:
- I think there is so much that we can learn as Civil Servants from how start-ups approach problem solving and delivery. Whilst (or perhaps because of) the problems a government department might face are usually extremely complex and multifaceted, there can be the tendency to spend a long time analysing and researching a problem and even longer designing and implementing a solution to it. However, start ups don’t have this luxury, to a certain extent, they sink or they swim. If they don’t create working products someone else will do. How to work effectively within this environment, delivering at pace whilst ensuring that everything that needs to be taken account of is taken account of is really exciting and a great learning opportunity.
- The responsibility that a start up gives to the people who work for it tends to be more extensive than the Civil Service. In most Civil Service digital teams there are a variety of roles (at least on paper) to support a product manager, such as business analyst, content designer, user researcher etc. TeachPitch does its best to provide these as well, but understandably there isn’t a massive team supporting my work. As Aldo, the founder of TeachPitch is fond of telling me ‘there are almost no bad ideas, but what is important is what you do with them’. It is a great place to take a feature from an initial idea, to designing the details of what it means in practice right through to implementation and being personally responsible for each and every stage.
- TeachPitch has colleagues based in Albania who I talk to and work with every day. Whilst remote teams are very normal in the Civil Service, ones based in other countries are less so, and getting to know the different working styles and best ways to digitally interact with people in other countries has been great.
- The start up is based a seven minute walk from my flat and I get to use a Macbook Air!
Before this posting I worked at the Government Digital Service as a policy advisor on GOV.UK Verify, at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs as a delivery manager and at the Department of Work and Pensions as a product manager on Universal Jobmatch. I can safely say this is a very different place to work, which I’m enjoying enormously so far. I can’t wait to get stuck in and help TeachPitch organise the world’s online teaching resources to help teachers learn better and teach more. It has been fast paced at times, especially working on the new certified online tutoring programme that we are now offering, but never dull and always worthwhile!
My desk after a hard day of managing products