A typically busy week that flew by. There’s a growing pressure to be in the office for the majority of the week. It’s not a new policy, so I resolved to park any debate and to just start doing it, upping my typical attendance from two days to three. I’ve been enjoying a mixture of office and home working over the past couple of years. The office environment is great, but every day I come in is a day that I don’t get the time to exercise. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel after a few months.
This was a week in which I:
- Spent all of my available time between meetings to try to put some shape and structure around our office fit-out/refit programme. This is quickly becoming the most prominent initiative in our portfolio. Most of my thinking is done through creating something, in this case some simple Excel-based dashboards for each of the things we need to consider in each place. It seems so simple, but there’s a massive amount of utility that comes from having artefacts like this.
- Had a number of meetings and debates about the vendor product that we are considering. We broadened the exposure by floating the idea with one of our front office teams, as well as having a separate demo and discussion with the vendor.
- Attended the steering committee for a cybersecurity programme that we are running with a sister organisation.
- Joined a kick-off meeting between our digital development team and the data team of another department to agree how we will work together.
- Attended a half-day training session on Information Risk Management, run by a colleague from South Africa that I have been bumping into and working with over the past few months.
- Joined our fortnightly Generative AI working group.
- Took part in a cybersecurity ‘tabletop simulation’.
- Caught up with our Account Manager at our primary technology partner, briefing each other on what’s been happening at our respective organisations.
- Met with some technical contacts to unpack how two companies would be able to effectively share Teams Meeting Rooms. There doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to the problem, with every potential solution compromosing on either the technical/security aspects, the end-user experience, or both.
- Wrestled with getting my head around the practical details of how we employ contractors now that they must be inside IR35. It’s complicated.
- Enjoyed dinner with our new next-door neighbours who moved in a few weeks ago. It was lovely to get to know them a bit better.
- Finished watching Barry. We ploughed through all four seasons in quick succession after hearing about the show. It’s a skilful balance between comedy and drama, with a big pivot halfway through the final season.
- Started watching the Beckham documentary on Netflix. There’s something jarring about seeing footage from what feels like very recent events and realising how long ago they took place. The lack of mobile phones is striking in the footage of people collectively watching football matches at pubs and bars. I remember watching the 1998 England vs Argentina match in a pub and feeling the sense of disappointment and menace when we lost. Someone in the pub walked up to the TV and ripped the plug out of the wall by the cable. The public shaming and abuse that Beckham received afterwards was completely disproportionate to what had happened; as Rio Ferdinand points out in the documentary, mental wellbeing was not a topic that people openly talked about at the time.
- Spoke to a friend who referees for the Hertfordshire Football Association. He told me that reports of referee abuse has tripled since the pandemic. It does seem that there’s some kind of collective PTSD that is driving people’s bad behaviour; COVID-19, Brexit, dreadful governments, the cost of living crisis and a sense that the country is falling apart probably all play a part.
- Wondered whether we really do have a cat that thinks he is a dog. He craves attention, flopping himself next to me with his paws across my lap. A few years back, he demolished a whole jam doughnut that had been left on the kitchen worktop. This week he attacked a packet of mince pies. And I thought my sugar addiction was bad.
- Wondered at the unbelievable power of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data when I received this incredible phone notification:
Next week: Symposium.