Where's my Parachute? Life as an Intelligence Manager (Joining Essex during lockdown!)

Never content with an easy life, I made the decision that my next career move would be in a different sector, having spent many years in the Health Sector, I thought moving to Local Government was the choice for me! Little did I know at the time that my move would be made under the most bizarre set of circumstances……

At the time of making my decision – “PC” (Pre-COVID), the decision was an easy one, to work with a Team with an amazing reputation, at the cutting edge of data science, delivering work which was making a difference to the residents of Essex – a truly exciting prospect for me. So, in February my notice period was agreed with a start date set at the beginning of May. But, within a matter of weeks, the Country was in lock-down and I was checking to make sure my job was still moving forward (all was fine). At the same time I was battling COVID Health returns and getting my then Team working away from the Hospital site (using rapidly obtained laptops!), before I made a leap of faith into the on-line world of Essex County Council.

Starting was a bit like landing from Mars – a bit lonely at times, unsure of who to go to, not wanting to bother people who were still dealing with the initial response to the pandemic etc.. But, over the course of a few weeks I found out who led on the main areas within the Team, and SIE. I met a lot of people (all virtually) within Analytics & Data Science, SIE and Place, and began to feel part of the Team. The Team have fully embraced remote/ virtual working, and using Teams, Zoom, virtual whiteboards and other tools has helped us work together, and keep in touch – whilst meeting business needs.

Working with the Place Function I’ve been able to get involved in some projects around economic recovery, Essex Climate Action Change, Category A Residents & volunteer response to needs. My direct reports are working through objectives we set together, based on Team objectives and some personal ones – in the short time I’ve been here its been good to see them learn and develop. From a matrix management point of view its been great to work with other analysts in the Team who focus on Place projects, meeting weekly in our Place huddle has enabled me to track progress on projects and assign resource effectively. The whole Team are working on some amazing data science techniques, this can be seen in two recent blogs from the Team one on NLP (Louis Yong Yang Yen) and one on different data science techniques (Stephen Simpkins)

Moving to ECC has created more variety in the work I am involved in, compared to my previous health role (more datasets, and different types of data – I feel like a kid in a sweet shop at times!), however both roles involved making the best use of data, and seeking one version of the truth. I’ve already had the opportunity to work with some of our District partners – through the volunteering work, and an upcoming project through ECDA around the concept of a super district. So am sure my experience in healthcare analytics will be useful as we move forward.

Some lessons learnt along the way - #1 - Meeting a Team, through a screen – you don’t know how tall they are – not normally an issue until I ask someone to work with Matt, and the question in response is, “is he the tall one?” - I have absolutely no idea!! #2 - Humour – not always easy to gauge at first through Teams very easy to laugh at the wrong point, or not at all…. #3 – Netflix is good! – why did I not use this prior to joining phat flicks? (a way the team dealt with the boredom of lockdown!).

I think I’ve truly found my pixels (well, no one can see my feet!), and am very fortunate to work with some amazing, supportive people.
…..and I never did like a quiet life!

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