In the last century I went to Leeds University to study communications and philosophy. I was expected to study physics but I was contrary and communications seemed more interesting at the time. When I graduated I thought about going into IT like my both parents had but the milkround employers were perturbed by my lack of an IT degree. I liked books so libraries also seemed a reasonable possibility. I applied for a job in the Guardian library which seemed like a good option as I also liked the Guardian.
I worked in the Guardian library for a year and then went to City University to study Information Science. The rather stern library manager at the Guardian suggested all sorts of mysterious consequences for trainees who didn’t continue their library studies. I got a scholarship to cover my studies but living in London required more money and around the same time the Guardian webteam were looking for night shift workers to put the daily newspaper up on the website.
So I studied information science by day and learnt web production by night, and then combined the two for my dissertation. As with many other IAs, I was delighted to discover the information architecture concept. It seemed like the perfect thing.
All this turned out to be exactly the right combination to get me a job at the BBC working in their search and metadata team. I was surprised to find that the stuff we’d studied for my MSc was actually useful. Later the BBC hired an information architect and she set about building a team. I manoeuvred my way into her team and stayed there for the next five years until finally I found myself leading the team (there was a bit more to it than that).
By 2008 I was ready to move on. I’d enjoyed working for a public service organisation. It helps with getting up in the morning if you know you are actually trying to do something useful and not merely line the shareholders pockets. Public service employers also tend to be more humane employers; generous leave, flexible working, long hours are rare. I wanted to hang onto that.
My sister was working for the RNIB and she got in touch to tell me about the IA job. She was really just asking if this was an example of my crazy job and was a bit surprised when I applied.