As some of you may have heard, the metaphysical bell has rung on my time at Tech City. From the 1st of August I will be actively pursuing a collection of new projects and activities. Some of you may be wondering what this means, and maybe even why it’s happened. I wish I could tell you a tale so epic in proportions that it would make Tolkien cry, but the simple fact is my contract was, and always had been, a 12-month contract. Those 12 months are now up.
When I first stepped in to Number 10 Downing Street to meet Rohan Silva to discuss my joining, it was at a time where the previous CEO was departing, and another being recruited. My role was to ensure continuity and to engage with community to ensure we addressed any structural issues that may have arisen. With the arrival of Joanna Shields, the stewardship of the organisation is in fantastic hands, and there is no real need for a Deputy CEO.
I am fantastically proud of what the team has achieved in the last 12 months and I passionately believe that we’ve managed to create an organisation that is radically different from what it was, without losing any of its core functionality of attracting foreign and direct investment in to the area. We’ve managed to add a new, more understandable messaging strategy, a greater sense of purpose and increased the agility of the organisation. Most importantly we’ve been able to do this with an increased sense of transparency via our direct relationships with those we serve: The company owners and employees, the hackers and hustlers, the strivers, the doers and the world changers.
One of my core activities was to ensure the organisation was fully plugged in to the connective tissue of the area, to really understand what this area was actually about, not what it thought it was, not what it wanted it to be, but to rewire the circuit board, to create a bottom up organisation that responded to the needs of the community. I believe with all my heart that we achieved that; we’ve built a great team, who fully comprehend what makes this area of London unique, and who understand what is necessary for it to reach its potential.
To all of you whom I met, from the smallest startup hustling on barely a penny, to the profitable, to the vast, to the creative, to the agile, to all of you – I want to say a massive thank you; you kept me inspired and alive.
Those who know me best will know how challenging I found the last 12 months. I will admit at times I found certain areas of the job beyond my limited skill set, and some of the procedural requirements of public sector certainly brought out the worst in me. To those within government who steered me, guided me, chided me, assisted and educated me – a huge thank you. You brought sunshine to those grey days.
I believe we have a responsibility to ensure we are making the best of what Government can do, and I am honoured to have been so privileged to work with some of the brightest and best public servants, from Policy wonks to Civil Servants, to those who work tirelessly to make change – I take off my hat to you. Your tireless, selfless sacrifices to democracy are not celebrated enough.
I have been honoured to be afforded an opportunity to ensure that we, the makers and creators, were represented at the table of those who make decisions that impact us the most. In the world I come from, “Yes!” was the most powerful word, however sometimes the smartest thing I could do over the last 12 months was to say “No”. I will admit that I am looking forward to being able to say “Yes!” a lot more than “No”.
I promised myself I wouldn’t get emotional, but it seems to have all gotten a bit Oscar-ceremony-breakdown-on-camera. I do want to make one small point. We, as participants, as tax payers, as stakeholders of a brighter future, have a responsibility to ensure we are represented and understood by those who are employed to represent us, and I urge the community to continue to come together, to connect, collaborate and discuss this future we are creating and to ensure that our voice remains loud, proud and powerful. The government is more open than ever to panoply of voices of the community, please do not let this opportunity to speak freely go to waste.
So what’s next for me? Well, I went in to this job as one person, and I’ve come out another. My “national service” has changed me, I think for the better, in more ways than any other project. I am going to spend some time thinking, relaxing, and getting my coding chops back up to speed. I’ve several projects and ideas I want to explore. One is looking in to the idea of a Harkness method inspired free school in the area to address the digital skill shortage, ensuring that rising tides floats all ships. The other is a far larger project around democracy in the 21st century and what that means. I’ve also got a few web apps I want to knock up to help triage a few personal itches that have developed.
To all of you I’ve met, to those who supported me, to those who were nice to me: Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.
Here’s to the future, it’s a very exciting time.