Interview: Lynn Roberts, Head of Digital & Innovation at Action for Children
Welcome to the first in our new charity #lifechangers interview series where we’ll be talking to shining stars in the sector about what they do and who they admire. We want to turn the spotlight on the wonderful people who work in the charity sector and celebrate the life-changing work people at charities do every day.
Think there’s a question we should add to the interview? Anyone you’d really like us to interview? Tweet us @JGcauses or post a comment below.
First up, we have Lynn Roberts, Head of Digital and Innovation at Action for Children.
Hi Lynn! Tell me, what does a Head of Digital and Innovation actually do?
Difficult question! My job has two parts. In the Head of Digital part, I try to answer user needs and solve business problems through online communication and technology.
The Innovation side is similar, but there’s a focus on using tech industry processes to design, test and roll out products for Action for Children’s supporters and beneficiaries.
What was your journey to the charity sector? Give us your potted career history.
I studied Maths at Bath, then did a post grad in Journalism at Cardiff. Went from there to work for a magazine publisher called Haymarket as a sub editor. While I was there I started a music website, with some low key success (as long as success doesn’t mean ‘generating revenue’).
I used the experience I got from that to move to digital and had roles in the alumni fundraising department at King’s College London and at Scouts before joining Action for Children.
What does a typical working day look like? If there is such a thing…
It depends a lot. Tomorrow, I’m going to be part of a design sprint team for a new fundraising product we’re working on.
Other days will be looking at our how well our content is engaging supporters or working on digital comms for a campaign.
Or it could be working with one of our digital services product managers on getting their Beta out to users for testing.
Which other charities do you think are doing digital well?
I find Julie Dodd and her team’s work at Parkinson’s UK really inspiring.
The innovation in service delivery is really wonderful, but also simple things like showing the forum queries live on screens in the office to connect the staff to beneficiaries. It’s such a great idea.
What do you love most about your job? And what’s your number one challenge?
I love the variety of work that we get involved with, the awesome people I get to work with and the fast pace of digital. Expanding the team’s remit to include innovation and new product development in the past year or so has been really exciting and energising.
The biggest challenge is definitely the volume of stuff that comes our way, and getting the balance right between driving projects forward vs BAU.
What digital tools could you simply not live without and why?
Trello and Basecamp for work. Instagram and Apple Music for life.
What brands or people from outside the sector inspire you?
I won’t be the first or last to say this, but Humans of New York. It’s so important to amplify the stories of the children, young people and families we work with and I think HONY sets the bar for putting people front and centre, and giving them the platform to tell their own stories in their own words.
What one Twitter account / blog / email newsletter do you think everyone should follow?
If you’re interested in social technology, @techforgoodtv shares loads of great case studies, blogs and events.
Lynn Roberts is the Head of Digital and Innovation at Action for Children. Follow her on Twitter at @digitalyn
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