Natalie Taylor’s 20-year career in digital transformation has seen her work for politicians and on high profile projects. She now helps global organizations adapt to our fast-changing world as a leader in PA Consulting’s team of digital experts. And she’s encouraging more women to consider a career in digital so they can help shape the future.
“The world is now digital. We need more women in digital to make sure digital products are built with women in mind,” says Natalie.
Yet digital wasn’t Natalie’s original career plan – film directing was. But when she fell pregnant at 23, she needed to re-write the plan and find a stable career that would support her as a single mum. She got into PR and marketing.
A couple of years in different agency roles, Natalie worked on a whitepaper for the Department of Health, which led to the business case being developed for the National Health Service website (nhs.uk). This would be the catalyst that would propel her into a career in digital.
“In the health sector, I could see the power of digital technology and how it could change people’s lives for the better,” she recalls.
Politics, the public sector and high profile projects
Once the nhs.uk business case was approved, Natalie went and worked supplier-side on its delivery – a transformative project she’s proud to have been a part of.
“Being able to provide prevention information and deliver the Department of Health’s policy using a digital format back in 2007, that was completely new. It had never been done before.”
Natalie stayed at nhs.uk for six years in various digital roles, and then moved onto the Government Digital Service.
“I always believed that services and products should be designed by talking to users and understanding what they need, and designing and iterating based on that. But up until that point, I’d struggled to make that case.”
“When the Government Digital Service came along, they made that the norm. I was so thrilled by that, I wanted to help embed those ways of working in government.”
Come 2014, Natalie took a maternity cover job at London City Hall. At the time, Boris Johnson was mayor, and she would later work for Sadiq Khan too.
“I was responsible for brand, marketing and digital, so it was quite a big portfolio, with a big team, lots of responsibility and the work was very high profile.”
When the maternity cover ended, Natalie stayed on to create and deliver a digital transformation agenda for City Hall – a highlight of her career to date.
“I’m really proud of what we launched in london.gov.uk. When I first joined City Hall, it was a horrible website – the search was broken, the user experience was terrible and the design awful. We launched a really great product.”
Supporting women and finding balance
Wanting to encourage and support more women into senior roles at PA, Natalie is Vice-Chair of the firm’s Women’s Network.
“Our mission is to make PA a better place to work for women. It’s about challenging the status quo, providing networking opportunities and professional development, and looking out for anything that might cause problems for women.”
“For example, last year, PA’s flexible working and parental leave policies were reviewed and are being improved as a result of our input.”
Helping women succeed while balancing life is an issue close to Natalie’s heart, having spent her career trying to find jobs where she could work flexibly and spend quality time with her two boys, now aged nine and 17.
“I think I’ve had quite a good balance for the majority of my career,” she says.
To help achieve this equilibrium, she makes a point of turning her phone and laptop off after hours, works from home one day a week, and buys five extra days of holiday each year.
“I also do practical things like block out parent evenings and sports days in my diary. And I’ve recently joined a spa to make sure I’m getting some ‘me’ time.”
Natalie has also been the lead singer of two bands, and has just started a PA band, hoping to have a good enough set to play at the summer party.
Her advice to the 23-year-old starting out her career 20 years ago: “Follow your dreams and do what you love. Don’t settle for anything less because you spend so much time working. It’s really important you care about what you do.”