Case Studies

Volunteer case study – Inspiring the Future

  • Name:  Isla Kennedy
  • Job title: Senior Product Manager (Acting Head of Product)
  • Organisation: Funding Circle (but only until 30 Nov 2020)
  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your role? (e.g. What is a typical day like, what do you enjoy/find most challenging about your job, and how did you get to where you are today?) 

Did Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university and didn’t really have an idea what I wanted to do, so applied for lots of Consultancy jobs as they would give variety and a chance to try out different things. I got a job at Accenture and was part of their Technology division, then moving into Accenture Digital when that was created. As my career progressed, I specialised in Product Management roles and decided this was what I wanted to do and so left Accenture to do this as an ‘in-house’ product manager. I also took the chance to move from big corprate businesses to a small start-up, and then after some time in a start-up, I moved to Funding Circle which is somewhere in the middle.

I take what the user wants, what the business wants and what is technically possible and determine what new features/products to build to solve user problems and meet business goals, using technology. So at Funding Circle I look after our website and online loan application form, as well as the internal software used by our sales teams, underwriters, risk analysts and operations teams, and make sure they all work as they should and constantly improve them.

On a typical day I will check-in with the engineers to see what they are up to and if they have any questions to help them with their work. I will discuss new features/improvements with head of sales/head of marketing/head of operations/etc. And the engineering team to get their thoughts and ideas, then I will write the requirements for the engineers to work on. I will also review things the engineers have built and make sure it does what it should, and make sure it then has the impact we expected.

2. When did you begin volunteering with Inspiring the Future, and why did you decide to start? 

Earlier this year through the Livery Schools Link, as I am a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. It is easy to give up a bit of time to inspire young people to get into technology, especially as lots of roles in technology are fairly new and not understood by many people. I want to show people there are many exciting jobs in tech and you do not need to be a programmer to be successful in tech.

3. Which Inspiring the Future activity have you participated in so far? (How did you find it? Were there any standout moments?) 

I did a talk to primary school children about my job. There was also a museum archivist and a TV director. The kids asked lots of interesting and thoughtful questions. The session was interesting and I hope useful to expand the horizons of those kids. It’s especially easy to volunteer at the moment, when I am working from home and volunteering online, which is much more flexible.

4. How do you think you have benefitted / could benefit from volunteering with Inspiring the Future? (e.g. skills, personal development)

Personal satisfaction from volunteering. Having to think about how to put my job simply and not use jargon! Learning about other people’s jobs from other volunteers.

5. What would you say to those thinking of joining our volunteer community? Do you have any tips or advice? 

Easy to get involved and supportive staff. Don’t be scared by the kids – they are more aware than you think and ask some great questions!