Rachel W.

Product Owner
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Rachel W.
United Kingdom

My employment

Product Owner
United Kingdom
Medium-size business (50-249 employees)

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

What I do

My unit look after developing the software behind the collection system, and making changes and improvements to it each year. I also work at improving and refining the records that HESA collect and making the changes year on year. Data is collected on students, staff, institutions etc. so there's a lot to take into account when making changes. We liaise with funding councils and institutions to agree these changes, organise consultations and review meetings when required, which means a lot of writing up papers and running meetings.

Skills I use and how I developed them

My maths degree was not a requirement for my job, though it was obvious I had experience with numbers! My job did require a 2:1 which I got. It was the problem solving skills and the logical thinking that my degree developed which prepared me most for my interview (and in my job now); the way I approach challenges.

Extracurricular skills:
During my time at the Ron Cooke Hub I really gained my confidence in talking to new people (say at a conference or just meeting a new client). I also developed my writing skills which prepared me for all the minutes and papers I am writing now.

What I like most

I love the fact I can be facing different challenges every day. Higher Education is a constantly changing sector and there's always something new to get stuck into!

How I found out about the job

Already worked there

The recruitment process

After filling in my application form there was an interview in Cheltenham a few weeks later and they let me know the next day that I had got the job. I was able to delay starting for a couple of months as I was travelling to New Zealand and then relocating from York to Cheltenham.
Since I've been working at HESA I have moved around into a couple of different areas at the company, which has meant an internal interview panel. This meant being interviewed by people who knew me already!

My career goals when I graduated

I simply wanted to do something that interested me.

My career history

After graduating in 2010 I worked at the Conference Office over summer and then on the new Heslington East campus doing security. I then got a job in the Hub Business Office at the Ron Cooke Hub for just over a year (January 2011 - May 2012). I really enjoyed working there, and I learned a lot about working in a business environment, organising events and general office procedures. I then got the job at HESA as a Business Development Analyst and have since become a Product Owner.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

I am really enjoying working in the higher education sector, and would like to continue doing so in the near future. It is a fascinating sector.

My advice to students considering work

It's not just about the degree you study and what grade you come out with, but also about the other things you do whilst at uni - so my advice would be to join one or more societies and see what you can get involved in.

My advice about working in my industry

This is a fast moving sector so a lot could change in future years!

Contacting me

I'm happy to answer any questions to York graduates. I don't think my career is typical of a Maths graduate, but I am happy to help if you're also one of those people!

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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