Meet the Local Digital team: Tom Lowndes, Collaboration and Engagement Manager

Local Digital
Local Digital
Published in
4 min readMay 30


In our Meet the Team blog series, we’re shining a spotlight on different members of the Local Digital team to showcase just some of the incredible expertise and hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

In our latest issue, Collaboration and Engagement Manager, Tom Lowndes, explains how a career in the creative industry helped him find his calling in digital and why listening is a key part of his role.

From the creative arts to central government

I like to think I was always destined to join either local or central government, as both my older brother and sister have worked in Planning and Social Services respectively, but I’ve taken a slightly different journey to get here.

I actually started out working in local theatre and moved to London to work on West End shows as a fly-man, which involves lifting scenery and lighting by balanced mechanisms. After theatre, I worked in film, TV and music video production, making content for the giant screens for rock and pop acts. This took me into interactive retail experience (screens that allow in-store customers to find tailored information) where I discovered user-centred design and was hooked!

Since then I’ve held a variety of different roles, including a scrum master, delivery and creative lead. Through my work for Future Cities Catapult (now Connected Places Catapult), I supported projects within the Scottish Government and Belfast City Council.

My initial role within DLUHC was as a Product Manager in the Digital Land team. Getting to work with familiar faces from my previous roles helped me immediately feel at home in central government. My first project was the pathfinder programme, prototyping what local plans could look like. I was able to work closely with councils, and that’s been my inspiration ever since.

Tom presenting at a Local Digital Fund Round 6 welcome event.

My role at Local Digital

The ‘Collaboration and Engagement Manager’ job title covers a wide range of skill sets and experiences, although I feel it can leave some people scratching their heads.

Each Collaboration and Engagement Manager brings something different to the role — part Product Owner, Agile Coach, Business Analyst, Delivery Manager and Product Manager. We work directly with councils to support them to develop digital products and services that meet a common need across councils.

It is vital we regularly listen to voices within local government to help inform the support we offer, so whenever I can I visit councils or sector partners across the country for some face-to-face time.

Representatives from the Japan Local Government Centre (left), Tom (centre) and colleagues from Teignbridge and Sedgemoor Councils (right) discussed the challenges of delivering digital services for residents.

Coming together to nurture modern and resilient councils

Since December, my time has been focused on the Future Councils pilot. Through the pilot, we’re exploring what it takes to support councils to become more modern and resilient. We have 8 councils taking part in the pilot and I try to act as a friendly, key point of contact between the councils and the wider Local Digital team.

One of the best bits of this job is creating opportunities for councils to talk to each other and collaborate on specific themes or challenges. These sessions could take the form of workshops or just a good Show and Tell with a chance to chat about the content after.

Working with local government trying to address their problems is an absolute pleasure and really does motivate me. I also have the privilege of working alongside an exceptional collection of Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) professionals with a huge range of experience and skills. The Local Digital team is going to hate me for being so gushing but it’s true!

Members of the Local Digital team (with Tom top left) at a DDaT away day.

My proudest achievements

Choosing my proudest achievement is a tough one, so I’ve chosen two! I was part of the London 2012 Olympics Ceremony team and worked on the closing ceremony as a producer. I was thrilled to be part of such a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle and it was fantastic to see it come together at the end.

The second achievement I am really proud of was a project for Future Cities Catapult and Birmingham’s Southside business development districts. They wanted to capture data on anti-social behaviour by illegally queuing unlicensed minicabs, which impacted residents’ sleep. I helped design, fabricate and install a prototype for a pop up parklet which provided real evidence for the city planners to try and change behaviours. It was probably the best discovery I have ever worked on.

My advice for anyone interested in becoming a Collaboration and Engagement Manager

This is quite an unusual DDaT role, which is probably closest to that of a Service Owner. If you’re interested in going down this path then I would say experience is slightly more important than skills or qualifications, and that experience really needs to take the form of listening to and supporting local authorities. My colleague, Leon Ackie, has also written a blog post about the role and what a ‘typical’ day looks like.



Local Digital
Local Digital

The Local Digital team is part of the UK Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. Read more about our work: