Q&A with Anu Hautalampi, CARE International UK

Q&A with Anu Hautalampi, CARE International UK

Written by Lauren Howells on Mon 13 Nov 2017

Introducing...

Name: Anu Hautalampi
Title: Digital Manager
Organisation: CARE International UK
Twitter: @anuhautalampi

How do you see your role at CARE International UK?

As Digital Manager I provide both strategic direction and technical advice. I prepare CARE and its people for the future by building digital skills and confidence across the organisation. I help turn ideas into action and encourage looking at past experience and data for learnings. 

How did you get into working in digital?

Like many others, I was drawn to computers through gaming. My first love was Commodore64, which has now made an exciting comeback. C64s travelled all the way to our small village in Lapland. My brother had to go sleep in another room so I could play West Bank and Frankie all night!

The Finnish society provides equal and forward-looking opportunities. The University of Lapland started a free degree programme in digital media already in the 1990s. That's where I got a useful foundation with lots of skills.

Finns are big on critical thinking and life-long learning, which fosters innovation - and makes it easy to always find areas for improvement! Think that mentality makes a good fit for working in digital.

What do you find exciting about working in digital?

There's always exciting new technology and innovations to study and adopt. 

There's a huge demand for digital expertise. London appointed its first Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell this autumn!

It's great that more specific areas of digital expertise are emerging from under the broad digital rainbow. The size of teams and number of leadership roles in areas like digital fundraising, digital strategy and digital capability is growing rapidly. 

A career in digital is like a pot of play dough - you have a lot of freedom and choice in how you shape it!

What are your tactics for coping in a busy, ever-changing role?

  • Make peace with the overwhelm and remember to breathe
  • Stay curious and look after your learning and growth
  • Clarify priorities with your manager. I'm lucky to work with Hannah Richards
  • Nurture other interests for balance and perspective - I play the fiddle, listen to Robin Sharma's leadership podcasts and write about my past adventures as a correspondent in Delhi

Do you have any tips for where and how do you  broaden your knowledge?

  • Get user insights from how non-digital colleagues use digital, including the creative workarounds they come up with! 
  • Youtube livestreams: Social Media Examiner and Measureschool have really helpful ones 
  • I love the #BrightonSEO conference - and it's affordable for third sector folks
  • Blogs by Simply Measured and experts like digital analytics guru and fellow Finn Simo Ahava 
  • Clever tweeters like @scott_kerr

What are the biggest challenges facing small digital teams?

Being buried in the hierarchy. How high up digital sits in the org chart has direct implications for budget, decision-making and influence. 

Moving from broadcasting and SOS (“sending out stuff”) to genuine engagement, strategic content streams and quality over quantity. The @UKgovcomms and departments like DFID are taking a critical look at how to do digital communications with engagement and impact. That sort of healthy questioning has inspired and influenced my thinking since I worked as Head of Digital for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Developing and maintaining expertise across so many areas and technologies. Obama's former digital manager @calebgardner has made the point that each social media platform really needs its own specialist to use it well.

Finding the time and headspace to create and implement innovative ideas. A tip from researcher @helenaahman who specialises in work psychology: spend 30 seconds daily to generate ideas ahead of an upcoming meeting or project. 

What are your top tips for charities with small digital teams?

  1. Ask what can we best do in house (what should we have oversight and control over) and where can we best draw on the resources of agencies? Need to look at skills & expertise, priorities, work flows, dependencies. Importantly, consider what these decisions will mean in the future - avoid limiting your choice and room to operate.
  2. Build digital capability across the organisation.
  3. Invite the digital team to join work planning early on so you can make informed decisions together.
  4. Document processes and write guidelines.
  5. Settle for good to get the job done - even if it's hard to curb your perfectionist ambitions!

What are the biggest challenges charities face in building digital skills?

  • It's often unclear who should lead on digital capability. 
  • Digital skills are not seen as a priority (Danger!)
  • Many digital systems and processes have lots of detail, many steps and lack of integration. How do we make digital tools easier to use?
  • Needs to create value to be enticing 

How can we continue to grow and improve leadership and ways of working?

Leadership: create the right environment for high performance and creativity. 

Implementing mini-projects and new ideas (e.g. How Sam Auchterlonie at Skyscanner uses lean) to bring agile into non-agile workplaces 

By asking better questions. Motivational speakers are right!

What does the future hold for the charity sector?

International development is moving to the global south. Growing tech hubs like Nairobi provide exciting opportunities paired with local knowledge. Oxfam HQ is relocating and others will follow.

Shifts in technology and customer expectations. The challenge of personalisation encompasses everything from technology to tone to fostering a community of supporters. Another big one is the move to voice search and control. 

What will these changes mean for our services and how users find them and access them? Even late digital migrants are adopting these new ways - when I visit my Dad in Lapland he's talking not typing to Google.

More diverse leadership - future blog posts like this will name drop fewer white men!