My personal development journey at dxw

Everybody does a little for everybody else, and this helped me to learn a broad range of skills

Where it all began

I joined dxw in June 2017, about a year after graduating from university with a degree in Physiology. During that year I had a part time job in hospitality, did some travelling, and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do career wise. 

I came across dxw by chance when they were advertising work experience. After doing some research I became really interested in the digital and technology sector, something I had never thought about getting into, and applied.

I didn’t hear back.

A better first impression

A couple of months later, dxw did contact me about coming to interview for an internship with their commercial operations team. Something that could eventually become permanent.

I had a really nice interview with Poss, then Head of Commercial Ops now COO, and Vanessa, the People Manager, in Bills on Hoxton Square (RIP). I left feeling really positive about the company.

The interview was friendly and casual and the thought that had gone into making it as comfortable as possible was clear. 

Starting small

Back then, the operations team was pretty small; just me, Leanne, Vee and Poss. The company was probably at around 28 people altogether. I was the first, for lack of a better word, “junior” person at dxw in a non-technical role.

Because everybody here is super nice and friendly, from the start, I’ve always had people looking out for me; answering my questions, and encouraging me to think outside the box and invest in my development. 

The dynamic is busy, but flexible and relaxed. Everybody does a little for everybody else, and this helped me to learn a broad range of fundamental business skills – facilities, HR, recruitment, finance and commercial. 

Investing in me

It’s always been made clear to me that if I wanted to develop into one of our specialist delivery roles, dxw would support that.

I remember a conversation with Dave, our MD, at my very first company retreat. It was just my second week at dxw, and he suggested thinking about going into user research because of my research background at uni.

Over the next 2 or 3 of months I joined a couple of user interviews, including going to a school to interview a headteacher for the now live Teaching Vacancies service, and sat in on some usability testing. Everybody, but especially Hilary, one of our Senior User Researchers, was really generous with their time. 

I have so appreciated always being given this kind of opportunity to help me learn about the company and suss out what I want to do next! 

Farrah in one of our dxw team meetings

Taking time to decide what to do

After about a year in the role, and still not being too sure what I wanted to do next, the opportunity to work with Dave and the rest of the directors in an Executive Assistant shaped role came up.

This was something that hadn’t existed in dxw before. I have to give a mention to Poss and Dave here, who saw the need for an EA and have advocated for my development from day 1. This felt like a logical next step as it would allow me to learn more about dxw in general, building on what I had done so far within commercial operations. 

I filled my diary with meetings with the directors to work out how I could best help them. They were all happy to meet with me. At dxw, everybody, however busy, always makes time for each other; to catch up, have coffees and casual chats. This is where the best conversations happen!

Shaping my opportunities

I started doing more facilitation in this role; business planning sessions, director meetings, retros. Being trusted to do this from the beginning was empowering, and I always felt I could ask for advice and would receive constructive feedback to keep getting better.

Working with Dave has been a dream. Because dxw is dxw and Dave is Dave, I’ve been able to help shape the role and focus on a number of different things including special projects like our Returners’ Programme. 

Becoming a Delivery Lead

So, I’ve finally decided what I’d like to do! In September, I’ll be joining the delivery team here as an associate delivery lead. Becoming a delivery lead has always been an option for me, and it builds well on the skills I have developed over the last 2 years.

I’ve had lots of good chats with Clare, our Director of Delivery, have been welcomed into delivery meetings to understand how everything works, and visited show and tells which have given me a solid understanding of the client/stakeholder side of delivery. 

I’ve also visited and shadowed client teams, including accompanying Ert, one of our Product Managers. I joined stand-ups, listened in on calls and Ert explained product management 101 to me.

Looking ahead

I’m excited to get started and begin working with our public sector clients. I feel really proud of everything I have done over the last 2 years, but dxw should be proud too. We have such a great team of experts in their fields and I am really grateful that I’ve always been able to steal their time.

As dxw keeps growing, there are new colleagues who are now in a similar position to the one I was when I started. I hope that sharing my experience will help them to seek out and receive the same opportunities and support I’ve been given.

I know they will.