By Stephan Williams, Product Lead
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Faces of FuturU is a story series about our incredible team. We explore their motivations for joining, delve into the experiences they bring with them and understand a little more about what brings them joy at work.
Stephan Williams is Product Lead at FuturU, one of the key members of the Product and Tech team responsible for developing the learning platform.
What initially attracted you to FuturU?
Michael – our CEO – contacted me via LinkedIn and laid out FuturU’s vision to me in a way that was admirable and meant I really wanted to find out more. I think a lot of us working here, especially in the UK, have family who work in care – for me, it was my mum who works in community care. It seemed like such an immediate problem to be solved, and I could really see myself as an asset to the team that could help build towards such an important target. So I was in from the beginning.
You mentioned your mum works in community care, tell us about her journey.
My mum is a carer and has been for the past 15 years. so I have some understanding. After my parents divorced, she was looking after me and my little brother full time on top of working and trying to study a nursing course at university. It wasn’t working for her because she simply didn’t have enough time between cooking food for us, looking after the house, her care job, and studies. So, eventually she dropped the course and leaned into care but she’s always lamented the fact she didn’t get that official qualification and training. Because of her experiences, she talks a lot about the way in which the healthcare education sector could be improved. I think it’s important we keep people like my mum at the centre of our thinking in terms of product, so it’s valuable having that reference point and thinking about the car park conversations that happen between carers.
What about FuturU brings you joy?
For me right now, it’s the culture. In my team especially, we have such an enjoyable way of working together and we’re all very in sync. There’s no need for a thousand meetings to realign and all that stuff, because everybody has a clear picture of what we’re trying to do and everybody is very motivated around that. We all have a lot of ownership over the individual pieces that we’re working on, meaning that everybody has a lot of buy-in and really cares about what they’re doing and how it affects the company.
What’s been your biggest learning moment since joining FuturU?
It has been the power of collaboration – and that sounds really obvious when you say it like that. But I think, especially in tech, there can be a superiority complex that occurs where we feel as if ‘we’re the tech people, we know what we’re doing, and other people are getting in our way’. I think the moment I realised that it’s about those group collaboration efforts across functions, not just engineering, not just product, not just marketing, it’s everybody together. That’s where I’ve always found that I’ve had the most to gain – the most value and knowledge. For example, at FuturU we’ve done a couple of cross-department workshops, where people from every department are contributing, even if you’ve never once thought about writing any code. We found that people in our assessments team – for example – had ideas that were incredibly valuable, as they have a perspective that we don’t necessarily have in product or engineering. So, it’s been really important for me to find those people within the business, who might be several departments away, who have the knowledge and ideas that we need. So I think moving into more of a collaborative space and really breaking down the compartmentalisation between departments has been a massive thing for me, and something that I’ve enjoyed taking part in here at FuturU.
What particularly excites you about the future of FuturU?
I would say the fact that we’re starting when we are starting. I’ve worked at start ups before and you’re either a little bit behind or you’re really in the dark. And I think for us, we are starting at exactly the right time where there’s a lot of innovation going on in the tech scene, but also the healthcare industry is ready for disruption. There are lots of traditional practices and standards that are used in learning that don’t really mean much to the user, and we’ve got a real opportunity to make our product about the learners; about the people who are working in care and really tailor it to them. This means learners will have better experiences as the quality of our platform will be better, leading to a better workforce.