Helen Brealey is a Digital Experience Manager and Product Owner, working on creating new and exciting digital innovations for our customers.
How did you get your job?
I studied English and French at the University of Leeds but realised early on that typical languages career routes like teaching and translation weren’t for me, so started looking into internships. I was successful in my application for a ten-week summer internship here at NatWest Group and was offered a place on the two-year rotational graduate scheme at the end. I really enjoyed the scheme, particularly my placement in Digital Banking, where I helped to drive some of the main mobile app features that our customers use daily. Towards the end of the scheme, I secured a permanent role as a Journey Developer, simplifying and digitising key customer journeys. Six months later, an opportunity came up in our Digital Customer Messaging Team to work as a Digital Experience Manager. In May 2022 I took a side-step to grow my network and skillset as a Digital Innovation Product Owner in our Digital Propositions team.
What does your working day look like?
Every day is different, which I love. Ultimately my day is constantly considering and advocating for the customer, thinking carefully about what the customer journey will look like and ensuring that the customer’s needs are met by the product we’re releasing.
Each day starts with a daily stand-up with the team to call out priorities for that day, followed by meetings with stakeholders, catch-ups with our architects and developers to ensure they have everything they need to make the features a reality, and sessions with user experience designers who carry out testing of proposed new features with customers. My day also includes planning, refining the product backlog and keeping our roadmap up to date.
What’s the best bit about your job?
The variety. No two projects are ever the same so you’re constantly learning new ways of doing things as well as new insights about your customers and ways to improve their mobile banking experience. Because technology moves so fast it makes for a fast paced but super rewarding environment to work in. It’s also pretty satisfying seeing your work go live and knowing it will benefit customers.
I get to work with a great team of smart, creative people, who are equally passionate about developing great customer experiences for our mobile banking customers. Every day I log off having learnt something new.
What do you think are the top three skills someone should have if they want to get into Product Management?
Strong communication, strong decision making/prioritisation skills, and customer commitment.
What do you think the tech industry could do to attract more diverse talent and become more inclusive?
There needs to be a top-down approach to inclusivity, and senior sponsorship of Employee-Led Networks that can drive the change from within the organisation. This sets out a strategy and acknowledges that companies are not quite where they should be, with a call to action of where we need to get to and carefully considered steps for how that situation is going to improve. It’s really important that we’re listening to underrepresented groups in the industry and asking for their input on how we change things – listening to people who know it better than anyone else through lived experience.
I also think there needs to be a focus on retaining talent that already works in the sector and making sure we provide an environment where they’re able to fulfil their potential regardless of what is happening in their personal life, whether that’s having children, taking time out to travel or looking after older family members.
Finally, what advice would you give someone starting out in their career and wanting to work in the tech industry?
I’ve realised that very few people know exactly what they want to do, and many of us will have multiple different careers in our lifetimes. Remain curious, follow your interests and what excites you, and keep an eye on current industry trends. Take an interest in expanding your professional network and look for experience that will give you the opportunity to grow.
Blog originally written by Lauren Nicholson and published on How I Got My Job.