17 May 2023
I accepted the role of Head of Programmes at Oxford Insights four months into a mid-career gap year. Although my gap year was briefer than planned, the role at OI appealed as a unique opportunity to draw on my civil service leadership experience while working in a genuinely flexible place of work.
The Head of Programmes role involves making sure that OI can deliver its operational commitments. In a small organisation like OI, in reality this job description involves responding to whatever needs my attention most on a given day. I spend a lot of time catching up with my team and being available to fix any problems that might arise with their work, and I play a similar role with our client and partner relationships. As a member of the senior leadership team I am constantly seeking to improve company performance, so I might block out time to investigate better ways to track project progress, or implement new personal development plans, or plan a recruitment round. I also share in project delivery so I’ll be on hand to proof-read draft reports or attend client update meetings as required.
While this list of responsibilities seems daunting when I try to commit it to paper, I can say with hand on heart that the flexibility promised in the job advertisement has been borne out in practice. I work part time and I can plan my working commitments around the demands of family life. Most of my work is remote which means I generally find time to walk the dogs along the beach during the day. And while every day is different, there are elements common to every day: autonomy, the sense of making a difference, and working with smart, dedicated people.