Lead Technologist

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Key facts

Salary
£74,748 FTE, based on a 35 hour full-time working week
Contract
Permanent
Location
UK, remote or hybrid in London or Leeds if desired, with potential for some national travel at times

We’re hiring a number of technology roles right now, so if this one isn’t a good fit for you, take a look at our careers page for our other openings.

About the role

This is a technical leadership role. As a senior member of the dxw technology team, you’ll be bringing technical and non-technical parts of our delivery teams together and making sure our public and third sector clients and stakeholders have a clear understanding of what we’re building and why. You’ll help teams set their strategy for projects, making sure work aligns with technical principles.

You’ll work with other technologists, but also designers, user researchers, delivery managers, and many other specialisms from dxw, our partners, and our clients. Sometimes you’ll work on teams with as few as two technologists, building prototypes and exploring solutions. Other times you’ll work on large projects with four or five developers and up to ten others from a wide range of other disciplines delivering production-ready software to members of the public.

You’ll also work internally on shaping and directing the team. You’ll join the team leading the technologists at dxw and by extension the team leading the wider delivery practice. You’ll take part in weekly meetings and other discussions about how we should work and why. You’ll be involved in making decisions about the technical direction of the team, our growth, and how to make sure the business meets its goals.

At dxw, we have three threads of work for technical leaders: Leading Development, Technical Architecture, and Engineering Management. These represent three of the main aspects of our work and most Lead Technologists work across a blend of them depending on the project and situation.

Leading Development is about being hands on in a project team, usually as the technical lead but sometimes as an experienced practitioner. You’ll write software and support your team to do the best work. It’s about shaping the direction of the project in collaboration with other disciplines and the client, and helping the team deliver it by leading technical planning sessions, setting standards, making technical decisions, and writing software. When you’re hands on with the code, you’ll usually work on parts of the project outside the critical path or by pairing with other members of the team so you can be interrupted by other demands on your time as needed.

Technical Architecture is a little more removed from the software. Rather than getting hands on with the code, you’ll tend to work across a couple of projects at once, helping design high level systems, review documents and designs created by other people, and generally help teams work out what the right thing to do is and when to do it. With some of our clients, a large part of this thread is about working through governance – the processes put in place to make sure what we deliver meets the organisation’s standards and requirements – and that frequently involves creating documents and having conversations with technical and non-technical stakeholders.

Engineering Management is the furthest from the code and focuses more internally. You’ll be involved in setting strategy for dxw’s technology, supporting the technology team as a whole, shaping work and scheduling the right people to it, recruiting new members of the team, and selling our work to our clients. You’ll support teams through regular catch-ups with project and technical leads, attend show and tells, and generally get involved as needed to support them to do the right things. You’ll tend to also lead internal projects and initiatives, identifying opportunities, getting the right groups of people together, and setting them in a direction they understand and believe in.

You’ll probably find yourself gravitating towards one of these threads more than the others, but during your time at dxw, you’ll have the flexibility to adapt and shift as needed. Sometimes you’ll be asked to work on one thread more than the others as needed by the shape of our work at the time and your strengths, but usually you’ll get to decide where you want to focus for yourself.

We work in an agile way (but we don’t follow agile methodologies too strictly) and hope to inspire our clients with our practices. You and your teams will work alongside our clients to define and prioritise work. You’ll take part in sprint retrospective meetings and you’ll present your work at show and tell sessions including wider stakeholders.

Usually, we work on projects for only a small part of their lifecycle and, in those cases, you’ll take part in building a shared understanding of any work done on a service before us and when we reach the end, you’ll work with your team to hand what we’ve done over to our client or other suppliers.

We try to use the right technology for the problem at hand. Here are some of the things our delivery teams have worked with recently:

  • Ruby and Ruby on Rails
  • TypeScript and Express
  • React
  • Python and Wagtail
  • Kotlin
  • C# and .NET
  • PostgreSQL
  • Elasticsearch
  • Git and GitHub
  • AWS, Docker, and Terraform

You won’t be hands on with everything, but you’ll need to be able to pick up missing knowledge on the fly as needed by a project or team.

You’ll make and guide effective decisions, clearly explaining and documenting how that decision was reached. You’ll look beyond the immediate technical problem and identify wider implications of the work we’re doing.

You’ll often work on multiple projects at once and will need to balance your time between them to deliver the best value to our clients. You’ll need to identify the highest value thing for you to work on with input from your teams and carry out that work without much direction.

As a Lead Technologist, you’ll also usually be a line manager. It might be your first time supporting another person in this way, and you’ll have the support to learn how to do a good job of it. As a line manager, you’ll have regular 1:1 meetings with the people you support as well as meetings with other line managers and project leads to make sure everyone’s well supported and delivering good work. Depending on where you generally focus, you might line manage anywhere from one person all the way up to six or eight, but we’ll only give you responsibility for people when you feel ready and you have the capacity to realistically support them.

At dxw, we have a culture of sharing our skills and knowledge, and you’ll advocate for that behaviour by leading by example.

We publish our progression framework openly. Take a look if you’re interested in what the other roles in the technology discipline look like.

About you

You want to deliver public digital services that improve the lives of the people who need them.

You’ve worked on at least one software project that has had contact with the public and understand many of the challenges involved in the development of live services.

You enjoy variety in your work, like the idea of working on a series of different projects in different domains, and are comfortable working through fuzzy problems.

You have demonstrated aspects of leadership in the past, perhaps as a line manager or a technical lead.

You’re open to learning from the people you manage. You recognise that management is a support role that isn’t “above” individual contributor roles and that the people you manage might know more than you. You work in a supportive way, helping others solve problems through curiosity, but also offer your experience when appropriate.

You have a solid understanding of how to write production software, a working knowledge of Git or similar version control software, and know or are willing to learn some of the technologies we use as you come across them on the job. You write tests as a normal part of your software development work and document and share the things you learn with others.

You understand the importance of secure coding practices. Everyone receives security training when they join the team.

Our public sector work means that appointments will be made subject to a background check and you must be living in and eligible to work in the UK.

About us

dxw has been around since 2008, working with the public and third sectors to create services and products that improve lives – things like helping to track aid spending and looking at how to improve digital collaboration between local authorities.

As well as making life better for the people who use public services and the teams that run them, we care a lot about being a great place to work and grow. Last year we became employee-owned, which means that a trust owns 90% of our shares on behalf of all current and future dxw staff, and staff get to influence the direction of the company and share in its profits. We’ve incorporated our mission and values into the trust deeds too, so dxw must also be run in the interests of the people who use the services we build.

We work remotely with people based all around the UK. We keep in touch all the time for work and for social things, and some of us get together in person in our Leeds HQ and coworking spaces in London when we can.

If you care about making public services better then dxw is the place for you!

Join us!

We’re committed to making our teams as diverse as we can and to creating an environment where everyone feels included and can be themselves. We welcome non-traditional paths into technology and aim to hire the right person for the role, not some combination of keywords. We especially encourage candidates historically excluded from technology to apply, including but not limited to people of colour, women and people whose gender doesn’t always align neatly with “man” or “woman”, parents and carers, people with visible and invisible disabilities and atypical neurotypes, people who didn’t go to university, and people from underprivileged backgrounds.

For more information about dxw, visit our website or our Playbook where we document the ways we work, our values, and our commitments to sustainable pace and openness.

How will the hiring process work?

We use a system called Applied for hiring to try and remove as much bias from selecting someone as we can.

You don’t need a CV or cover letter. Instead, we’ll ask you to provide written answers to a few short questions related to the work you’d do on the job (an approach backed up by research). Hopefully, this gives you some idea of the sorts of things you’ll be doing and helps us understand how you’d approach these aspects of work.

Your answers are then anonymised and shuffled up with other candidates’ and reviewed by some of our team, including staff with a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. We then create a shortlist based on their scoring. Up until we’ve picked the shortlist, the people making the decisions won’t know anything about you other than how you answered the questions and how your reviewers scored you, so we can’t be influenced by anything else; we won’t even know your name!

We then invite shortlisted candidates to a structured interview with 3 members of the team, who score your answers independently before any discussion with each other. We send everyone invited to interview an overview of the topics we’ll cover in advance so you can come prepared. We don’t want to catch you out; we want to find out what you know and what and how you think.

Depending on the number of applicants, we sometimes then ask promising candidates to do a 2-3 hour work simulation with a member of the team. This is a little like a code test, but is more focused on how you approach a problem than what answers you give. Our work simulations also include some one-on-one time with a different member of the team. They won’t have any part in deciding if we hire you or not, and anything you talk about would stay between you both, so please feel free to ask about whatever you’d like to know!

We send all unsuccessful candidates feedback on applications, based on the scores given in the review stages.

This process is designed to have less focus on your background and what you’ve done before than on what you know and can do now. But please let us know if you think we’ve missed the mark or can make it better by emailing Ellie, our HR Administrator, at recruitment@dxw.com. We will keep your comments anonymous.

Benefits include

  • Annual £1000 personal learning and development allowance
  • Interest-free season ticket loans, electronic vehicle and cycle to work schemes
  • Up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave depending on your situation
  • 25 days holiday plus bank holidays
  • Pension with up to 5% matching contribution from dxw
  • Flexible working to support your wellbeing and personal commitments
  • Macbook and home office setup budget

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