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24 May 2024

Casting our 500th Hippo

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Hippo

Since 2016, Hippo has steadily grown, adding services and colleagues. In recent years, that growth has accelerated to meet the needs of our clients and a changing digital landscape.

And recently, we hit two of our biggest milestones yet.

We recently celebrated our 8th birthday and in short order we are delighted to have crossed a further landmark, hiring our 500th Hippo. We would like to introduce you to Tess Robinson.

Curtains up, meet our Leading Lady

Tess joins us as a Senior User Researcher having originally trained as an actor. A self-confessed “music and theatre gal” she went to university with dreams of directing, acting and producing shows. But, when she was on the other side of her education, she looked at the innovative digital industry and realised that it was an industry that she could thrive in.

Bringing a big personality to the team, Tess is an advocate of a positive company culture – one that she can play an active part in and one that matches her values. In Hippo, she found all of this.

For a while, she was looking for somewhere where she would feel like she could stay for a long time. Finding somewhere that matches her energy, and a workplace where she could still express herself and her interests.

Made for the part

So, why Hippo? What was it that made Tess say yes?

“At the interview I was given the chance to ask questions. I asked the interviewer “how long have you been at Hippo and what makes you stay?” It was the answer to that question that made me so excited to join. To hear that there were people who’d been at Hippo for years and stayed because of the people and because of the culture was a major green flag.”

One of our core values is “Human”. Although we work in a world often dominated by conversations about A.I and optimised workflows, we truly believe that when we bring the right people together, good things happen. We want to foster a workplace that makes people want to stay and grow.

The Second Act: Creating True Value

For Tess, she wants her work to make an impact. Hippo’s strength in the public sector was one of the reasons she was attracted to the role.

With Hippo having worked alongside organisations such as the NHS, BBC and the Department of Education it felt like a natural fit for Tess. Yet, on her first week, she noticed a clear difference in attitude toward what true value meant to her peers at Hippo.

“What I really like about Hippo that I have learnt since joining is how we add value to clients as consultants…it’s not just about delivering stuff, it’s genuinely adding value. And everyone that I have met so far has been so conscious and honest about using taxpayer money and making sure we deliver value for money when it comes to the public sector and the government client side of things”. There is something wonderfully infectious about the people and what everything stands for”

Tess reminisced on how in consultancy work, people can often get wrapped up in projects, project teams and clients. It can feel like you just work for them. And, though early in her time with Hippo, she has felt that isn’t the case. Throughout the company, she has found pockets of people with varied and keen interests.

Of which, Tess has many.

Back of House to Centre Stage – Tess’s Other Passions

Tess is a true communicator. In a role as a user researcher, you have to be. You can provide the best user research data the industry has ever seen, but if you don’t engage people and present your results in a digestible fashion, then it can feel like you might as well not have done the research in the first place.

In school, she was the first to put her hand up at presentations, eagerly swanning up to the front of her class, keen to share her findings. So, when she began to engross herself in theatre, it only added to her natural confidence. With such exercises like mimicking facial expressions and building rapport among the cast built her confidence. It developed a skillet of how to infer people’s intentions, to understand their gestures and intent.

“When you have to audition, assume a character, sing a song and do a dance – that is a skill you develop over time. Now, I’m unfazed by all kinds of interviews and that helps in my role as a researcher.”

But Tess hasn’t left the world of theatre behind. Her links to the underground scene of London is stronger than ever, where Tess still stretches her creative muscles. She is currently working as an Assistant Director on one of her favourite composer’s pieces, “Follies” by Stephen Sondheim, as well as supporting her theatre company by producing “The Color Purple” – notably the first time the company has had a completely Black cast and creative team since it was established in 1905.

In a nutshell, that is Tess. A Senior User Researcher who refuses to put passion in the wings. It’s front and centre in her work, whether that is conducting research during the day or directing at night. A personality that thrives on community and culture, admittedly championing her values in the work she does.

Encore!

As the final act in our talk with Tess concluded, it felt like a standing ovation was in order. We had just welcomed the 500th Hippo to the herd – a huge milestone for any company.

Before the curtain came down, Tess wanted to end her interview with something she said many times throughout our chat.

“I’ll just echo what I’ve been saying for the past several days. I’m so thrilled to be here. It’s been an absolute joy and I can’t wait to get stuck in and start”

It’s a joy to have Tess as part of the herd. We know she’ll do great things at Hippo. So, as they say in show business. Break a leg!