To say that we’ve had a lot going on here in the UK over the past few days would be an understatement. At the start of the week a new prime minister took office. The Queen passed away a couple of days later. We now have a new King. I’m a republican, but I have been fascinated by all of the pomp and procedure over the past few days, in a similar way to how I am interested in the processes and workings of our parliament. Although I disagree with the concept of having a monarch as our head of state, I still feel the sadness of someone passing away. It was moving to see the King shaking hands with people outside Buckingham Palace; although he has been preparing for this moment all of his life, I can’t imagine what it must be like to have your mother die and it be required of you to put your work first. The Queen had been our head of state since before my parents were born, and almost a third of our population say that they have seen or met her in real life. Most of us have never seen this process in action.
After a wasted summer where the Conservative Party spent time choosing our new Prime Minister while our previous government went on holiday, it’s a worry that things will again be on hold, particularly as the cost of living crisis will reach new heights as we go into autumn.
A week in which I:
- Loved having one of my close colleagues over in London from Johannesburg for the week. As he was here, I had planned to be in the office every day, but scaled this back when I realised that he was visiting a supplier on Tuesday. Sadly, one of my other colleagues has been stuck in limbo waiting for her visa to be processed and didn’t make it. Hopefully it won’t be too long before she can join us in person for a long-planned workshop.
- Attended the weekly cross-functional project meeting for the closure of one of our regional offices. I need to put together a more detailed timeline for the technology work.
- Kicked off a project to implement a password manager for staff. Met with two of the leading vendors and chased up a third via their Marketing Director on LinkedIn.
- Started a review of our current device and network security posture and agreed a way forward for completing the work.
- Reviewed the details of a complex risk within our environment and agreed next steps to tackle it.
- Spent time whiteboarding ideas on the digital literacy initiative that I am running. There is a lot of value in the Digital Workplace Skills Framework put together by Elizabeth Marsh that I think will be useful to leverage.
- Discussed the digital literacy work with colleagues in People and Culture and Marketing and Communications, recognising that we need to work together on the implementation.
- Had a couple of long discussions about some internal products that we are developing, and the ethics of using data in particular ways. Talked about how the role of the sponsor doesn’t need to sit outside of the technology team.
- Met with colleagues to take stock of where we are with our main Engineering strategy work and agree next steps.
- Took part in a management team workshop. Realised that it had been a very long time since we had done anything like this. Agreed next steps ahead of a more formal, structured session that will take place in a few weeks.
- Had a demo of Team Today, a tool to help staff to know where people will be each day as we continue with hybrid working.
- Ran our bi-weekly management meeting.
- Met with Internal Audit to assist them with their work.
- Had a call with a new member of my team that will be joining us soon. I can’t wait to get him on board.
- Met a colleague who is helping to get an internal SharePoint Online site established to host an internal technical blog. Despite having Teams and Yammer available, it still feels more appropriate to house these posts on their own site.
- Was grateful to the Stratechery newsletter for introducing me to The Standards Innovation Paradox.
- Joined an online session aimed at CTOs on how to develop a technical vision. I didn’t stay long; I hadn’t realised that it was a round table and not a presentation, and the conversation felt very stilted.
- Had a conversation with a colleague on country-level restrictions on the use of cloud services across Africa.
- Enjoyed an excellent dinner with our London Engineering team, the first one in years. It was strange learning about the Queen’s death from a waiter an hour or so into the meal. Had fun showing some colleagues the Colorize web app that uses AI to add colour to black and white photos.
- Agreed to take another business trip in a few weeks. I can’t believe how expensive travel is right now.
- Attended a ‘Learning Hour’ session on the topic of psychics. One of the reasons that we run the weekly session is so that people can get practice at giving presentations. This was a tricky and controversial topic, explained and handled well.
- Felt nauseous as we watched the announcement of the new Prime Minister on the television at work, and even worse as some of the cabinet ministers were announced.
- Released some more books into the wild via our book drop at work. It’s been a while since I’ve used the Bookcrossing website.
- Met with the rest of the school Full Governing Board for the first time this year.
- Interviewed a prospective new school governor.
- Went to the ‘Meet The Teacher’ evening at the school where I am a governor. It was brilliant to see all of the staff together with so many parents. Events like these are so important to build the social bonds between parents and the school, and I’m so glad that we’re back to doing them again after the years of COVID-19.
- Enjoyed dinner with friends at the opening of a local restaurant’s new Sicilian dining room. Ate far too much.
- Got lots of work done on the indoor bike trainer. It was fun to take on a couple of rides where I doubted myself mid-ride whether I could finish them or not. It was very satisfying to get them under my belt.
Next week: Trying to keep my head above water, and a 50th birthday party.