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A day in the life of...Kim R, Head of Engineering

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A day in the life, Recruitment

In this series we offer an insight into the working lives of people within digital and technology roles across Ministry of Justice Digital & Technology.

In this post Kim, Head of Engineering, talks us through her day...

What is your role at MoJ?

I am responsible for ensuring the MoJ’s software developers, testers, webops and Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) have the right skills, support and environment to do their best work. I’m also responsible for leading these professions, which means defining a strategy, documenting and maintaining professional standards, setting out career progression pathways, providing access to learning and development, and overseeing recruitment.

What did you do before you worked for MoJ?

I spent a couple of years working at a digital agency in West London as their Technology and Development Director. Prior to that I led the formation and launch of digital development at The Francis Crick Institute.

What does a typical day look like for you?

So far I’m having lots of meetings to get to know the people in my professions. I joined MoJ in April 2018, so at the time of writing I’m approaching 3 months in post. I expect to regain control of my calendar in the next few weeks as I start moving past that initial burst of discovery and meeting everyone.

Tell us about any new or interesting projects you’re working on right now.

Very soon after joining I got involved in the Legal Aid Agency’s (LAA) strategic hosting programme, which involves migrating all their existing systems to the cloud. I also took a leading role in defining the LAA’s future technical direction for software development, which included putting together a comprehensive program of training and support to help their software developers begin learning the new technologies we plan to start using.

More broadly, I am working on forming a diverse talent pipeline within the software development profession, which means I am looking at ways we can encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to consider a career in software development.

I’m looking at ways we can take these budding software developers on in the earliest stages of their technical career and, through effective line management and clear career progression pathways, support them in moving up through the ranks from apprentice to junior then mid level to senior and beyond.

Most recently I've set up the Just Tech technical blog, talking about solutions to some of the problems our technical communities are solving on a daily basis.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned while working here?

Making time to meet each of MoJ’s 100+ software developers individually has been the most valuable and enjoyable thing I have done so far.

In a new role it’s all too easy to focus on the burning issues and dive straight into new initiatives or solving problems. However, if you want to work effectively with people, especially large numbers of people as I am here at MoJ, you need to make the time and effort to slow down and introduce yourself, ask questions and listen to what people have to say. It’s important to be open and share a bit about yourself and in turn learn a bit about other people and what they enjoy doing.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to apply for a role at MoJ?

DO IT! If you want a flexible, safe and respectful working environment that encourages different perspectives, supports professional development and provides everyone an equal opportunity to succeed, where people care about the work they are doing and want to make a real difference, come and join us!

If you’re a software developer, webops or Site Reliability Engineer(SRE) looking for a fresh problem space, please don’t be dissuaded by misconceptions that government is behind the times, stuck in the past using only old technologies.

Here at MoJ we’re working hard in properly agile cross-functional teams, solving difficult problems using modern techniques and technologies. Developers can even meet the real users of the services they’re developing, which can mean visiting prisons, meeting legal professionals and members of the public, etc.

If you weren’t Head of Engineering, what would you be?

I’m not sure... I naturally gravitated towards teaching myself how to use technology creatively to solve problems and I really enjoy working with and supporting people, so all paths probably lead me back here! If I had to choose, perhaps working with the RSPCA to rescue and rehabilitate mistreated animals....

Can you tell us your favourite film?

Back to the Future I, II and III.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I’m not sure it’s a talent, but a few years ago I was lucky enough to be taught by a friend how to crochet.

It’s not hidden either because I recently started an informal craft club at MoJ where interested folks gather fortnightly during a lunch break to chat and work on their craft projects. I’m happy to teach anyone how to crochet, but I'm hoping someone will teach me how to knit!

Interested in joining us? Check out our latest vacancies at Digital & Technology careers

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