Phil Young is the head of online at Transport for London (TfL). In this role he leads the team responsible for digital services, serving over eight million regular customers and 25,000 staff, including websites, intranets, extranets and mobile services.
He previously worked at Capita as a product manager for local government products. He then joined Cable & Wireless before joining TfL’s New Media division in 2005.
He became head of online in January 2012 and was instrumental in helping move the TfL website to HTML5 earlier this year.
V3: What does your day to day role involve?
Young: Working with people across TfL to plan digital services that are more efficient and better for customers. Meeting with colleagues, stakeholders, suppliers and industry contacts to work out how to do things better and show them what we’re doing.
I have an obsession with the detail of the propositions and services we’re developing, which can be annoying to my team. Much of my time is spent with them trying to encourage what’s good and challenge them to make things even better.
What would be your dream job?
An astronaut – preferably Apollo (NASA if you’re reading this I await your call!)
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I use an iPhone 5S and a MacBook Air, I don't have a tablet. Both are incredible devices.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
Jakob Nielsen for championing the needs of the user and for offering practical solutions to usability needs.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
The internet, of course, loads of useful stuff comes from it. Wireless has also had a big impact as it means we no longer need to be plugged in to do anything – it’s liberating and convenient.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
This is it! Leading a fantastic digital team at TfL, making real improvements for customers.
What was your first job?
I did a paper round. It ran seven days a week and involved early mornings.
What’s your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?
Turning technology, which most people are not interested in, into experiences, which most people are interested in. I like the IT industry as we get to invent things that people love to use.
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
Cloud, cloud and more cloud – it’s happening already, but it will mature and be the default for most things soon.
What do you enjoy doing when you finish work?
I like walking in the countryside, running a church youth group, going to restaurants, watching TV.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys by Michael Collins, it's a great space book.
Where’s your favourite holiday destination?
The Cotswolds, we frequently go there in the caravan for great walks and pubs. It is a great antidote to London.
E-readers or real books?
I like proper books – I have enough screen time at work.
Twitter, Facebook or Google+?
A little bit of everything, but I keep a low digital footprint.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
I prefer The Beatles.
Jerry Maguire. “Show me the money."
Windows or Mac OS?
I use Mac, as it works with no fuss.
On-premise or cloud?
Cloud where it’s best, on-premise for the rest.
What’s holding women back from entering the IT profession?
I don’t have the answer to that – we have many talented women in our team, but there are few women seeking the more technical roles and I’d like to see more.
How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?
By getting kids excited, not just about the application of technology (social media, gaming, messaging), but about how they can create things that others will love. I love the idea that kids can create apps and get into programming with tools like Raspberry Pi.
Curiosity is really important too. To encourage kids (and adults) to think, “How does that work,” and to be able to find out.
Working in technology can be great fun, sometimes not like a job at all! If we can get that across we’ll be halfway there to getting kids excited about it.
Did you grow up wanting to work in IT?
I always played with my dad’s computers, on one occasion completely wiping his brand new work laptop. He never complained and continued to let me use his stuff. I never imagined I’d work in this industry though. Growing up I wanted to be a postman or prime minister.
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