1) Give a quick intro to you, your team and what you’re working on?
Manisha Singh (MS): Hi, I’m Manisha and I work on the MAIN (Monetisation, Access & Identity at News) Programme. It’s a busy time for us as we’re migrating our existing platform over to the new platform, whilst delivering new features for our friends on Times, Sun and Wireless — so there are exciting times ahead!
Adeyinka Somoye (AS): I am Yinka. My journey as a Junior Agile PM started about two and a half months ago. I am currently working across two teams in Content Platforms: (1) the Editorial Tooling team which leads digital transformation for The Times and The Sunday Times newsrooms through developing and maintaining curation tools; and (2) the Platforms Team, which drives technical optimisation of computing resources across various titles.
Josie Eve (JE): I am Josie Eve, I started as a Junior PM only a week ago on The Times content team. Our team is currently working on a very large project looking to launch content verticals with editorial curation. This will help to provide more visible content across the website, in turn creating more advertising revenue and hopefully retain more of our subscribers. I am the Scrum Master for the team.
2) What were you doing before you joined News UK?
MS: Before I joined News UK, my experience was a mixture of working in Project management, I.T and coaching. I became highly interested in Agile and Scrum practices as I saw the difference they made in empowering teams to produce results, encourage open communication and deliver high quality products.
AS: Before joining News UK, I was working with an MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) start-up to develop a new product-to-market aimed at the single-aisle fleet of low-cost carriers.
JE: I have been at News UK for nearly 5 years, I first started in The Times & Sunday Times managing editors office working as Office Assistant. I then moved to Technology as a Personal Assistant looking after the Senior Leadership Team.
3) How did you find your way to News UK and/or the Junior PM role?
MS: I found my way into News UK by reaching out to the PPM Discipline Lead on LinkedIn, in order to gain some more understanding about Agile practices. During a month-long work experience, I shadowed different teams in News UK Tech, working on the Times, Sun and Wireless product teams. It was genuinely amazing to see how each team worked and had their unique own style too. All the Scrum masters were really encouraging and supportive and I was also able to get Agile practice in, facilitate agile ceremonies and learn the ropes a little before applying for a full time role.
AS: I spent a week shadowing the wonderful Catherine Liggins on The Sun Web team. Interacting with the whole team, getting a feel for the pace of things and the spectra of knowledge on offer in this environment was all the pull I needed. Additionally being given the opportunity to assume a Scrum Master’s role for the team Retro was the icing. Loved every moment.
“When an opportunity came up to join News UK Tech, I grabbed it with ALL fours.”
JE: Being a PA has very similar characteristics of Project Managers as you are always planning a number of weeks ahead, checking and chasing on issues and being the key point of contact for the team. Over the last few months, I have been learning from other project managers by shadowing a number of teams to see how each area operates. This has been such a valuable experience as I have been able to pick and choose ideas from my experienced colleagues to use within my own team.
4) What has been your experience so far as a Junior PM?
MS: Everyone in the delivery community and my team has been nothing but supportive and encouraging towards my journey so far. I’ve met some incredible and inspiring people along the way that have guided me and I’ve managed to achieve things that I didn’t think were possible. Since coming on board, I’ve tried to say “YES” to things that I’m scared of and I’ve found that sometimes that’s the best way of learning new things and facing some of your fears.
AS: Straight off the bat, I would say I am most pleased with the people. Absolutely delightful, engaging and genuine. There is a lot of support and this is invaluable for anyone starting out in a new role and a new industry. Ten weeks in (mostly in the lock-down), there is still loads to learn but I understand more where I can add value to the team (as this wasn’t immediately obvious).
JE: I am spending a big chunk of my time trying to do some technical learning, getting to know my colleagues and trying to work out the processes within Tech. I am really happy with the team I work with as everyone has been very understanding and patient with me which really helps! Starting a career change while we are remote has been challenging, so I have had to adapt this by noting down things I am not sure of and booking time in with people for explanation.
5) What do you like most about working for News UK Tech so far?
MS: The thing I like most about my role is helping teams to evolve and grow. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of that journey and process. We have a great sense of community here too and tend to do a lot of knowledge sharing. The Communities of Practice (COPs) are a great platform for us to come together, collaborate and share new ideas amongst other PMs. We are also quite proud of our slack channels! Anything you need… there’s always a slack channel for it!
“The thing I like most about my role is helping teams to evolve and grow. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of that journey and process.”
AS: I like walking into the building! On a serious note, the people I have had the pleasure of interacting with across the various disciplines have been stellar. The willingness to collaborate and offer a helping hand is to be commended. The role offers a platform to learn in a supportive environment where one is encouraged and empowered to take bold action. The perfect mix in my opinion.
“The role offers a platform to learn in a supportive environment where one is encouraged and empowered to take bold action.”
JE: News UK, and Technology in particular, is an amazing place to work. Everyone here is really keen for you to excel and without everyone’s support this career change would have been a lot harder. There is a real sense of community especially within the delivery community, which makes my role a lot easier as there is always someone around to ask advice from.
6) What have you been doing to make the most of lockdown?
MS: Going for walks in Epping Forest and building dens. I’ve also managed to surprise myself and have taken up gardening, planting new herbs and making things out of crates. I’ve also decided to challenge myself recently and learn a little Greek. “Gia Legome, Manisha — Herw Poly.” This was actually inspired by playing far too much Assassin’s Creed during lockdown, so I’m glad something good came out of it!
AS: Snacking! Explored the local river-walks and woodland in my area, watched My Family from the beginning, got to know the neighbour a bit more (while social distancing of course) and also done a fair bit of reading and research into Agile methods. Spending time with my partner is a great plus.
JE: Those odd jobs around the house you have said you will do for years (sorting the garage, organising the spare rooms, cleaning the windows!). We have been making the most of the woods near our house, taking long evening walks really helps to relax after being sat in your chair all day. This has also been the ideal time to commit to watching a number of TV series, currently we are on series 3 of Killing Eve.. epic!
7) What’s your go-to recipe for satisfying a craving during lockdown?
MS: I’ve been making the absolute most out of Dominos deliveries in lockdown — Shout out to Dominos, our pizza heroes!
AS: A short journey to the chocolate aisle of my local supermarket!!
JE: My boyfriend and I have become keen bread and pizza makers, we brought an Ooni pizza oven which revolutionized take away Saturdays. Pizza makes everything better!
8) What are you missing most about being in the office? And what are you loving most about remote working?
MS: I get a lot of energy from being around people, social gatherings and having fun, so I do miss everyone in the office very much. But I also now love having that extra quiet time to really sit down, focus and come up with new ideas — classic ambivert!
AS: What I miss the most about the office is being able to resolve questions/issues by desk-walking or leaning over the monitor for a quick clarification and Team lunches. Oh yes, my back definitely misses the chair and desk! Working from home allows me to tune everything out and focus on tasks with little effort.
JE: I most miss being able to hear what’s going on around me, having general office banter and a comfy chair & desk! However, I love how much money I am saving from not commuting (£250pm!). My commute from Leigh on Sea is about 1h40m each way so I have a lot more time before and after work to be more productive. I am also loving living in active wear, ultimate comfort!