Made Tech Team Interviews: Heather Venter, Delivery Manager

This month we had our third interview in our Made Tech team interview series with our Delivery Manager Heather Venter to better understand her role and to feature the great work she has been doing.

Our Delivery Manager roles are accountable for the effective delivery of complex, high-risk products and services. They have strong communication skills and are comfortable engaging with senior stakeholders. They typically manage one or two agile projects as part of a highly skilled, multidisciplinary team.

If you would like to watch the full interview, it is available here.

Q: Outside of Made Tech, what hobbies do you have?

A: Really important for me is to move and get out. I live near Wimbledon and our favourite thing to do at the weekend is to walk around Wimbledon and walk around the common. I try to keep going to yoga classes, pilates classes and try to keep flexible. Mostly for mental health to try and keep moving.

Q: Before you joined Made Tech, had you ever worked in the public sector before?

A: Yes, a long time ago, probably over ten years ago now. I worked for a busy police media room in a Marketing Assistant role, which was kind of scary as the news rooms would phone. I wouldn’t pick up the line unless there was no one else in the room. But that was quite a short role. Since then I haven’t, no. It has all been in the private sector until Made Tech at the start of this year.

Q: How long have you been at Made Tech?

A: I started the first working day of January this year. You think to yourself ‘oh, it’s not been that long.’ But then it is already September. Where has the time gone?

Q: How did you find out about the company?

A: Just through Linkedin. On a particular day I did a quick job search to look at what was around and I think Made Tech was one of the first listings. I hadn’t come across them before, but as soon as you get to the website there’s lots of great info on there and the Handbook. It was really easy to feel like you’ve got the gist of what the company is about with just a few minutes of taking a look. It was great.

Q: What was the interview process like?

A: It was great. I had a fairly short telephone interview. Then I was able to come into the lovely Made Tech offices in London. Lovely lighting, lovely flooring, there’s a certain smell. I got to meet a couple of people. There was also a dog that day walking around. I remember being part way through an answer and being like ‘there’s a dog!’ and then ‘what was I talking about?’

Q: What does your role here involve?

A: I sit at the account level at the moment alongside a Technical Principal. I sit on the Ministry of Justice account and we have a few streams of work there. So I’m offering delivery assurance across those streams and I’m also a point of contact for our customers. Providing hopefully high-level support for my teams.

Q: What do you like most about being a Delivery Manager?

A: I like the challenge of bringing together a group of people who have maybe never worked together before and then evolving our ways of working and going through a bonding process over time. But I also enjoy getting to know our customers and their unique challenges. How do we get the best from their Made Tech experience? Going on a journey with them and getting to know them. I really enjoy that as well.

Q: What are some of the most challenging things about this role?

A: Delivery is really subjective so everyone, engineers, delivery managers, tech leads, account leads, we’ve all had different experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t. So we’ve all probably got different opinions on delivery. As a Delivery Manager you are trying to pull all of that together and share your own experience and your own training. 

You are also trying to nurture the opinions and open up the opinions of everyone else. At the beginning of a project that can be quite challenging because you need to try something and then you need to adapt and iterate on that. It’s doable but I think in remote times when you are trying to take everyone’s opinions on a video call, there is certainly a challenge there.

Q: What has been one of your favourite projects you have worked on?

A: Not necessarily just a project, but we work on a programme for the Ministry of Justice as the moment. So we work on the Prison Technology Transformation Programme, which gets shortened to PTTP. Made Tech are a big part of that. We have multiple work-streams and we work really closely with our Ministry of Justice colleagues. They work on our teams and we collaborate together. I’m really enjoying plugging into that big programme with big outcomes they’ve got over a two year period and working closely with our colleagues.

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be a Delivery Manager?

A: Yeah, so I often say that the role I have probably didn’t exist ten years ago. I sort of started in Marketing and evolved into a Product Owner and a Scrum Master and kind of gone from there. I would say if you are early in your career, maybe don’t panic too much about where your career is going. Just keep building on what you enjoy doing and a new job might open up and you can go that way. Maybe you’ve got a rough goal, but I would say be open minded. 

For me, the path I took through getting trained in agile and scrum, also being a Product Owner then a Scrum Master, that gave me a really great foundation to then move on to be a Delivery Manager. But I understand everyone’s got their own path. I’d say stick to what you are good at and be open minded.

Q: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face since lockdown started in this position and how did you overcome it?

A: I guess firstly from a personal point, when we first went into lockdown, like many people, I got scared of going outside for a few weeks and then I ended up stopping exercise, eating more, drinking more. Just becoming really lethargic and didn’t really notice that was happening for a while. And you start feeling sad in yourself. Obviously there’s a pandemic going on, but for me as soon as I started getting out there and moving again, I instantly felt the rewards of that. 

Work-wise, I think the biggest challenge has been sensing the morale of our teams. I see people on calls all day long, great, but I’m really missing observing the body language of our team members when they are not on a work call. Actually, when they are going to grab a coffee. Not that I sit and stare at everyone, of course, but you do get a sense of how someone’s doing. 

A big part of the Delivery Manager role is to check in on the teams and make sure they are okay and that they are not just joining a call saying ‘I’m fine’ but actually they are not. So there are ways to get around that, and 1-2-1s I think are a big part of that. But it is certainly a challenge in lockdown.

Q: What do you like most about working at Made Tech?

A: What a lovely company Made Tech is! I don’t want to discredit where I’ve worked before, but this is possibly my favourite place I’ve ever worked. There’s just such a genuine focus on diversity, equality, learning, career development, it’s people-focused. Where do people want to go? A genuine interest in that. 

It’s the first role for a while where I’ve worked with females daily and with multiple females. Not that I have anything against men, but it’s nice to have a mixture. I’ve never really worked in such a safe-feeling, blameless environment with such a focus on people. I’ve just got wonderful things to say about Made Tech.

Q: Do you have any books or resources you would recommend for someone interested in this position?

A: Yeah, absolutely. If you are at the start of your agile journey, you want to learn about scrum. I always recommend scrum.org. They have some great mock exams on there if you want to start training and getting your accreditations. I would think about getting certified as a Scrum Master or Product Owner. Look into things like scaled agile, safe. 

I’m reading a book at the moment which was recommended by one of my colleagues. It’s called Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and Devop. Particularly, if you want to get into tech, which is what Made Tech focuses on. 

As well as being a Delivery Manager and focusing on agile, you’re going to want to learn the more technical ways of working: continuous integration, continuous development. Since working at Made Tech, I’ve improved my knowledge of those areas through reading and online courses. So I recommend maybe doing the same.

If you have any more questions for Heather about her role, you can get in touch by reaching out here. Additionally, if you are interested in joining our team, you can view our current open positions here. Be sure to stay tuned for our next Made Tech Team Interview coming next month.

About the Author

Karsyn Robb

Digital Marketing Executive at Made Tech

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