Jeni Tennison

Jeni Tennison

Jeni Tennison

Catching up from the last few weeks…

Recruitment, recruitment, recruitment

The last few weeks have seen me deep in recruitment processes for our new Head of Delivery and Operations and Field Building Associate. These have both been really tough because of the high quality of the candidates. I’m delighted to be able to share that we’ve selected Emily Macaulay as our new Head of Delivery and Operations, and she’ll be starting later in April.

It’s been really lovely, and validating, as we’ve been interviewing, to hear candidates reflect on their desire to join us not only because of what we’re working towards but also because of our values and approach. Our focus on openness, and particularly having weeknotes, means that candidates can get a view of what we’re doing and what we’re like (one said “I feel like I really know you”). Candidates have also really appreciated receiving interview questions in advance, helping them to prepare and be their best selves during what’s obviously a stressful process.

I’m really committed to ensuring that people who spend the time to go through writing covering letters, completing questionnaires, interviews and written tasks get something out of the experience even if they don’t get a job. So I’ve also been writing feedback for people who ask for it. Of course this all takes time, but it’s both the right thing to do and you never know how paths might cross with these people in the future.

Workshops, workshops, workshops

During the week of 6th March, we ran three in-person workshops in London.

The first was with Justice Lab, building off the evaluation we completed on the Justice Data Matters public attitudes research and deliberation exercise, and looking at what to do next. It’s been really interesting getting into the challenges in the justice sector, but also reflecting on how these same challenges apply across other sectors. For example, what concerns do stakeholders have about involving the public in data governance? And how do you get them on side? These are things I’d love to explore more as we aim to build experience around public participation.

The second was with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Tim’s written it up. The thing I really took away from it was that while there are gaps around data discovery and availability, there are also real gaps around the kind of social intelligence that’s needed to understand what others are working on, to avoid overlaps and find opportunities for collaboration. Organisations communicating about what they’re up to is one of those things that everyone wants others to do, but is always a low priority for any given organisation. Doing some of the legwork to make it happen (including badgering for updates, or organising events and making connections) is a gap that can be usefully filled. But it’s a very human process, not one that’s necessarily going to be supported by a technical platform.

The third workshop was one we organised with a set of experts from across civil society, to explore what a progressive manifesto around data, digital and technology might include. It was really interesting both to see the support for the role of participation and to explore some of the many things that need to be done outside our particular area of interest.

Other things:

  • I was on a panel at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference Fringe, organised by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, and alongside Martha Dark from Foxglove and Silkie Carlo from Big Brother Watch. It made me reflect on how I need to do more of those kinds of events, to help polish my lines and messages, as well as to understand how they might land differently with different audiences.
  • I’ve finally sorted out the non-executive directors for our governing board! Karin Christiansen will be our chair, and Hera Hussain and Louise Crow both join Karien Bezuidenhout on the board. Our first meeting is just a couple of weeks away, so I have to get organising (as well as getting them all on the website)…
  • I’ve been called for jury service for the first two weeks of April. I’m just crossing my fingers it doesn’t last longer than that…

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