Today’s “60 Seconds With …” interview features Gareth Edwards,
Digital Manager and Strategist at the University of Greenwich.
1. How do you describe to your friends/parents/next door neighbour what you do for a living?
This is a weird one for me because I effectively have two ‘lives’! Digital Strategy and management and as a journalist and satirist.
Mostly I just tell people I do ‘digital stuff’ and they vaguely nod.
2. Tell us something really cool about your job at the moment
We have honest to God, universal, functioning, taxonomies and content types in place here. This means we’re starting to do some really, really cool things with procedural content generation and groupings which I probably shouldn’t talk about here (but almost certainly will over a pint).
3. What’s the most exciting thing about web and digital in the HE sector right now?
We increasingly live in a world where a good chunk of our ‘prospects’ don’t really browse the web, or indeed see much of it outside of social media. That’s both terrifying and exciting, because it means we have to completely rethink the way we both design for them and engage with them – both as prospect and as students.
4. What’s your proudest moment in your career so far?
Clichéd as it sounds: Crossing from the private sector into HE and overhauling how Greenwich approaches digital. Using data or good design to help companies sell more things is fun. It turns out using the same techniques to help people get a degree, and often from that a better future, is even better.
5. If you weren’t doing this career what would your dream job be?
Owner and Chairman of Leyton Orient football club!
6. What will delegates take away from your session at IWMW this year?
That we can – and should – be braver about protecting our university websites from ‘we just need a page for…’ syndrome. As a sector, our sub-divisions have a tendency to see having a place on the website as a goal in itself. It isn’t. It’s part of a user journey and – in many cases – no longer as relevant a part of it as it once was. Indeed it can even do more harm than good.
7. Any fond/embarrassing memories of previous IWMW events (if attended previously)?
Late night whisky sessions outside of the accommodation with the Scottish crew in the early hours, setting the digital world to right, have always been a personal highlight. Although I tend not to feel that way about them the next morning…
8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
As mentioned, I’m also a journalist and a political satirist. This always confuses people who know me only through my digital strategy work when they see me pop up in that capacity online, on the radio or on TV! I’ve also got a book coming out next year called The Brexit Tapes, which is a sort of satirical future-history of Brexit, told through Nixon-tape-esque recordings from within the British Government.
Beyond that, I’m also an avid gamer – of both the video and pen-and-paper variety!
9. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Booking rainy afternoons off work and then sitting in a pub on Tottenham Court Road, watching the world go by. Add in beer and a book and it’s the most relaxing thing ever.
10. Sum up IWMW in one word
I don’t think I can do it in one. Best I can do is four: ‘You are not alone’.
Gareth Edwards is a Digital Manager and Strategist at the University of Greenwich. In 2015 he was recruited to lead a complete rebuild of the University’s digital properties and to help embed a digital-first culture within the institution. Still a relative newcomer to the Higher Education sector, Gareth has spent most of his career in the publishing industry. There he was responsible for helping a number of major publishers in Britain and the US build successful websites and the cultures and teams required for them to prosper.
Gareth has spoken extensively on the subject of digital change to a variety of technical and non-technical audiences at conferences and events. He is also Editor of London Reconnections, one of the UK’s leading transport magazines. In this capacity he has made appearances on both radio and TV talking about design, change and user management on the railways.
Gareth is giving a plenary talk on “No, you don’t need a website!” at IWMW 2019. Gareth is also a member of the IWMW 2019 Advisory Group.