Career stories: Jo Stevens, Client Practice Lead

July 19th, 2022 Written by Infinity Works

Jo Stevens has found Infinity Works a dynamic and inclusive environment where everyone is encouraged to fulfil their career ambitions, and life outside the office is respected and supported.

Jo Stevens joined Infinity Works in 2020 with a business computing degree and a wealth of experience from 15 years’ of working in software engineering, product, and customer facing roles. She joined as a senior consultant and delivery lead on the NHS Digital account, managing a team developing APIs for an electronic prescribing service. Not long after she was made an Account Lead on the project, helping to define the strategy and oversee operations for this major account. 

A year later, she moved up to Principal Consultant. “I took on more responsibility for areas like the profitability of the account, the personal development and well-being of the team members, and making sure we were providing quality services for the client,” she explains. 

Those responsibilities expanded significantly early in 2022 when Jo was promoted to Client Practice Lead (CPL) for Leeds, a newly created role that reports to the Technical Services Lead. As CPL she manages a team of Account Leads, while being responsible for implementing strategies and services within those accounts, and ultimately accountable for the success of client engagements.

I’m most excited about being able to support others in the way I’ve been supported in my career at Infinity Works. A lot of the job satisfaction comes from helping my teams and clients – and that reflects who I am in my personal life too.

With Infinity Works starting a new chapter as part of Accenture, she’s also looking forward to helping shape that future: “I understand how important culture and identity are to our team at Infinity Works, and I want to be part of supporting that, particularly here in Leeds where we started out.”

A career that began with a passion for video games and people 

Although she loved playing video games as a child, Jo didn’t initially consider a career in tech. She only considered IT seriously while discussing what to study at university with her now husband, who was focused on tech. “IT sounded like a good career option with transferable, in-demand skills,” she says. “I combined it with psychology which still interests me and has definitely helped with my work over the years.”

It was in a previous job at Jewson, the builders merchants, that Jo first started flexing her consultancy muscles. Alongside her software engineering role, she began to take on non-technical tasks such as business analysis and team leadership. On returning to work after the birth of her first child, she switched from software engineering to leading the Business Analysis function and  stakeholder management. 

After Jewson, Jo joined a small start-up specialising in vehicle telematics where she progressed to be Head of Product and Customer Management. Although she enjoyed the job enormously, it came to an abrupt end when the company went into administration. To help the people who were being made redundant secure new roles, Infinity Works hosted a day at the office. “We were able to talk to the team from Infinity Works and see what roles were available. Everyone was incredibly open and welcoming.”

Jo was offered a job, but with the office in Leeds she was unsure about the long commute. She was briefly tempted by a rival offer to work in a location closer to home, but Infinity Works proved the stronger draw. 

I just got a better impression of Infinity Works. They were a forward-thinking company, and I could see how they invested in their people and really supported consultants to develop their own careers.

Work that’s family friendly

As a mother of two children aged six and nine, Jo values the company’s flexible working options. Even before Covid, her family commitments could be factored into her schedule and even her choice of client. That freedom is particularly evident in senior consultancy roles, she adds. 

During lockdowns, Infinity Works showed great understanding towards parents who had to juggle work and home-schooling. Jo tag-teamed with her husband, usually working in two or three-hour sessions every day, with teaching and childcare in between. 

Infinity Works even provided extra days of family leave for employees who needed them.

Having a supportive work environment was hugely important during the pandemic. Jo found it helpful having colleagues she could talk to, including her advocate, a designated person outside her team who is available to advise on personal or career matters as needed. “As well as my advocate, my line manager was also really supportive,” Jo recalls. “If I ever needed to speak to anyone, they were always there.” In turn, she was always on hand to help her team members cope with their challenges.

The company’s Slack channels also helped Jo maintain a sense of togetherness during lockdown, in particular the parents support group where people share ideas and funny stories. 

It wasn’t all work though. “Last Christmas Infinity Works showed just what a caring company they are,” she explains. “They sent out presents and put on a Christmas show for the children. I was especially touched when they used a piano performance that I had recorded for a company video in the background of an online reading of a children’s story.” Jo continues: “I was absolutely taken aback because I’m not very confident when it comes to performing music for an audience, but it was a really thoughtful gesture and I loved that my kids were watching it.”

Jo, with her family

Running free

Running has been an intrinsic part of Jo’s life for a long time. As an experienced fell runner, she’s used to dealing with whatever nature throws her way. “You can be stuck on a mountain by yourself in bad weather, with nothing but emergency food, a map and a compass,” she explains. “It’s up to you to find your way and not panic.” She always helps fellow runners in need – an attribute she also brings to her role as a CPL, mentoring, supporting and developing her team. 

A member of Calder Valley Fell Runners, Jo has competed in races around the world and taken on Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Borneo and Malaysia. She says fell running has made her more resilient, as well as helping her to relax and gather her thoughts.

She adds: “The challenges of fell running mirror those that I face in other areas of my life. Achieving in one area gives me the confidence to know I can cope elsewhere, and it helps to motivate me when times are tough.” 

An inclusive culture

Jo was glad to return to the office after two years of remote working. She’s a sociable person who’s delighted to see colleagues face to face again, albeit only one day a week so far, and she tries to make her office time as interactive as possible. “Many aspects of my role are much easier to do in person – and everything about software engineering is collaborative,” she says. Jo expects some of the new behaviours adopted during lockdown to be retained, including an increased awareness of how work schedules can accommodate family and personal life. 

Jo is keen to protect the inclusive culture of Infinity Works for anyone who continues working remotely. She explains: “If we are having meetings with some people in the office and some at home, then it requires an effort to make those remote workers still feel included in the conversation. We need to be mindful of this.” 

Infinity Works embraces inclusivity and is committed to fostering a sense of belonging for all its employees. There is a strong and supportive diversity and inclusion community, and this includes  networks for Women in Tech and Women’s Wellness. The company as a whole is a nurturing environment for working parents. “I’m quite ambitious and I’ve never thought that having children should get in the way of that,” Jo says. 

The more we can do to reduce any barriers to women pursuing their careers just because they've got children, the better. Infinity Works is definitely a place where that’s happening.

As a senior woman in tech, Jo wants to share her experiences with other women who might otherwise not consider a career in the industry. At a recent event organised by the Leeds office of Infinity Works for its digital talent programme, she was able to assure the young women in the audience that tech was relevant to them too. 

Fresh challenges and opportunities whenever you want them

Jo’s rapid career progression is testament to the myriad of options available at Infinity Works. In fact, she says, that’s one of the best things about working here: “You get the chance to work on a variety of projects, with different people, to experience different industries and domains. You learn so much in such a short space of time that it keeps things interesting.”

There’s plenty of room to grow, whatever your background, and everyone is in charge of their own career development. Jo greatly values the company’s communities of practice which meet regularly to share knowledge and ideas. She’s also taking advantage of the learning development budget, a recent innovation that gives every employee a certain number of days to spend on their choice of training courses. Jo is currently studying for the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification and has recently attended the Erskin Nash Leading Self Leading Others course.

As for the future, the sky’s the limit. “Infinity Works trusts people to define how they work and to be responsible for the success of their projects. You have the autonomy to do what you think is best for the client and for your delivery. That’s definitely what keeps me happy and I’m sure it would appeal to a lot of other people,” Jo concludes.

A career at Infinity Works

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Written by Infinity Works