Rachel F.

Product Owner
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Rachel F.
United Kingdom

My employment

Product Owner
Higher Education Statistics Agency
United Kingdom
Education / Government and civil service
Medium-size business (50-249 employees)

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A day in the life of a Product Owner in the United Kingdom

Product Owner at HESA, the company who collect data on students

What I do

I am a Product Owner for a small team at HESA. This means I am responsible for prioritizing the work for my team, which involves lots of negotiation with our stakeholders. The products we focus on are the Student record and the Alternative Provider Student record.

Skills I use and how I developed them

I do a lot of negotiating in my job - I always feel like the middle man! I have to use my judgement and come to rational and often quick decisions every day - the analysis skills required for this I definitely learnt during my degree. It does require you to have a level head and keep calm under pressure.

What I like most

I love the variety of what I end up doing each day. And how I have the freedom to take the team in whatever direction I like if I'm willing to put the effort in to get them there.

What I like least

There are days where it can be quite stressful - either lots of things going wrong, or having to have difficult conversations with our stakeholders, telling them things they don't want to hear.

What surprised me most

How people have reacted to me. I'm younger than a lot of the people in my team, and yet they respect the decisions I make, as they know I always take their opinions into account when reaching my decisions.

How I looked for work

This job came up as HESA wanted to move to scrum methodology with the development teams - I knew straight away it was right for me, so I just applied.

How I found out about the job

Already worked there

The recruitment process

I had to go through an interview process with management who I already knew well at HESA. It was a strange interview as there was no need to ask me questions about how I worked and whether I'd fit in, as I was already there! Instead they really questioned me on what I wanted from this new role and my expectations of what I was going to need to do.

My career goals when I graduated

I just wanted to work in something Maths related, that wasn't finance.

My career history

I worked at the University of York for a couple of years after graduating - as a porter, then in the Ron Cooke Hub. I moved out of York and I got my first job at HESA as a Business Development Analyst. Then the Product Owner job came up and I haven't looked back since.

What has helped my career to progress

My desire to learn new skills and to try new things out. I'm always joining extra groups at work who are looking to develop the next new thing for us.

Courses taken since graduation

Product Owner training course, and the Scrum Master course too. I am now qualified in both with the Scrum Alliance.

How my studies have helped my career

My rational thinking skills and ability not to stress when a difficult problem is laid at my desk, have definitely steamed from my learning during my degree. Occasionally I get to do something I learnt directly from my degree too.

What surprised me about my career so far

I really didn't know where I'd end up with my career, but I've been really surprised just how much I enjoy everything I've done so far.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

Probably keeping within the Higher Education sector, and maybe still at HESA!

My advice to students considering work

Really think about what you enjoy doing most and try to focus finding work around that, if you can. You're going to spend a lot of time doing a job, so you might as well enjoy doing it!

Next steps...

If you like the look of Rachel’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Rachel a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Rachel to be your mentor.

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