Case study

Innovation manager — Paul Boden

Paul started out on a graduate training scheme, discovered the role that appealed to him most and was proactive in seeking out a position in this area

How did you get your job as an innovation manager?

I joined Lloyds Banking Group on their Business and IT Management graduate scheme, which consisted of three eight-month rotations, and discovered the innovation manager position. I consulted with a graduate in this role and their line manager to learn more, and it was decided that I'd be well-suited to the role and a good cultural fit within the team.

What's a typical day like in your role?

I work on different projects for varying lengths of time and, as such, my daily activities vary, depending on the needs of the project. This might be focused around research, stakeholder management, ideation or something entirely different. Depending on the type of project and where I am in the lifecycle, I might be working independently or collaboratively.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have just completed work on a strategic hedge, looking at some of the challenges facing Lloyds and developing propositions to address these. I will be working on a new proposition, looking at 'ways of working' and driving innovation across the group.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the diversity of challenges and the fast pace. I also enjoy the multitude of learning opportunities, the freedom to drive my own development and the culture of openness and collaboration that exists within the Innovation Labs.

What are the challenges?

I am constantly challenged. I regularly work with highly-experienced and talented professionals and I'm often the least experienced member of the team. This is a very fast-paced environment and at times it can be stressful, particularly when joining a new project. However, for those who are willing to work hard and are eager to learn it's a fantastic environment. The teams are very supportive, eager to share their knowledge and give new colleagues the opportunity to shine.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My degree has been hugely relevant. The logical skills I developed from learning to program have been applicable for solving problems in many different situations. Most of my work projects utilise some variety of Agile (project management) methodology, which I studied.

Compared to my colleagues, who are from different backgrounds such as business, I'm more able to understand technical documentation and source code. I occasionally write a short piece of code. Working in development teams has prepared me to liaise effectively with technical specialists.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

When I first joined it was common practice to operate a number of small Proof of Concepts (PoCs). Now the focus has shifted to taking on fewer, larger, more impactful projects. I led a PoC, then worked on a number of larger initiatives in a supporting role. As I learnt more and demonstrated my capabilities over time, I was able to work with senior stakeholders. My ambition over the next few years is to continue working within the team.

What advice can you give to anyone hoping to become an innovation manager?

  • The work culture fit is as important, if not more important, than technical capabilities. Demonstrate the ability to collaborate, listen to others and work in an open environment.
  • Be enthusiastic about learning and maintain curiosity. As the requirements of this role are diverse, building a diverse skillset would be beneficial. Some of the key skills required are collaboration, communication, creativity and self-motivation.
  • Try and keep up-to-date with cutting-edge concepts in tech.

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