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13 March 2023

In the Spotlight | Mike Tattersall

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Hippo

What led to you becoming a Hippo?

My journey into the tech industry wasn’t planned, but sometimes the best opportunities present themselves unexpectedly. 

I was working in Frontline Operations on a benefit called Carers Allowance at DWP when the benefit was picked as one of the GDS exemplars and was going through digital transformation. They needed someone who understood the benefit intricately to explain how it worked to the digital team, and this led to me sticking around and providing insights and support to that team.

I didn’t have any formal training, but I had a knack for understanding the way systems work and finding ways to work around and improve them. Despite the challenges of working with outdated existing systems, I managed to become a subject matter expert and progressed into user research and product ownership thanks to the help and support I received from people in DWP.

It was during my time at DWP that I met Adam Lewis. This was his first role since founding Hippo. Liz Whitefield, a DWP colleague, introduced us, and having spoken to him and listening to his product experience, I asked if he minded coming along to sprint planning, stand-ups and ‘show and tells’ to see how I went about doing product and if he could offer any suggestions and tips. Adam, being Adam, said yes and supported and helped me.

It wasn’t long before Liz left DWP to join Hippo, and soon after, I was lucky enough to follow. I was drawn to continue working with and learning from Adam and also Liz and Rob Coop, who was the other founder of Hippo. I joined when the company was just 12 months old, and now, nearly six years later, I’m proud to have been employee number six and to have played a part in Hippo’s incredible journey.

What does your day-to-day involve?

My day-to-day changes quite a lot

I’m fortunate enough to have two incredible roles at Hippo, both of which I’m extremely passionate about. The first is my nearly six years as a consultant on client projects, where I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients and hone my skills as a product person. I absolutely love the work I do in this capacity – it’s about setting a vision and rallying people around that vision. It’s about persuading and influencing people to buy into what we’re trying to achieve. Ultimately for me, it’s about delivering great products.

The second role is that of a Hippo board member, where I’m responsible for ensuring that our projects are running on time and to the quality we expect. This involves addressing any issues that may arise and making sure that everything is on track as we planned it. Additionally, I’m here to ensure that our consultants have everything they need to be happy and successful, whether that’s a clear development pathway or other resources to support them in their work.

At Hippo, we strive to create an environment that empowers our consultants to do their best work for our clients. By focusing on the consultant experience and making sure that they are happy and healthy, we are able to achieve better project outcomes. We understand that if our consultants are able to do what they’ve been trained to do and feel fulfilled in their work, then we will see great delivery and success. It’s this mindset that has led to the introduction of some great employee benefits and people believing Hippo is a great place to work.

What are you most proud of since working here?

I could list up a few things, but mainly the projects I’ve delivered and had the opportunity to work on some truly impactful projects. 

Firstly, one of my proudest moments was being part of the team that built the NHS login service. It was a challenging undertaking with many dependencies and a complicated problem space, but we rose to the occasion and delivered a service that now benefits 50 million people. It’s amazing to think that something I helped create is being used by so many and has been instrumental in important initiatives like the COVID pass.

Secondly, during the pandemic, I worked on the Shielding service. This project was particularly difficult due to the stressful and uncertain circumstances we were all facing and how they directly impacted the service. However, the knowledge that we were helping people who were at high risk of severe illness made it all worthwhile. Our team at Hippo is passionate about creating a meaningful impact on society, and these projects are just a few examples of how we strive to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

What truly makes me proud of being part of Hippo is the people. We have a team of dedicated individuals who genuinely care about the work we do and the impact we make. Over the six years of my journey with Hippo, I have witnessed its transformation from a six-person start-up to a thriving organisation of over 250 talented individuals.

It’s been a great experience to see the company grow, but it’s not without its challenges. Facing the ever-growing number of faces every day can be daunting, but we’ve built a workplace culture that values camaraderie and humility, which makes it all the more rewarding.

We take our work seriously but never ourselves, and this creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere where people feel supported and encouraged to explore their potential. I’m eager to see where Hippo will take us, but I’m confident that with such a fantastic group of people, the possibilities are limitless.

What do you like best about Hippo?

One of the things I absolutely love about this place is the people. 

Every time I see the incredible work my colleagues have produced on their projects, I’m blown away. It’s truly amazing how they can take a problem and turn it into a deliverable solution that meets the needs of the people who will use it.

The best thing for me is that I’m constantly learning from the people within Hippo. Everyone in Hippo, from the consultants and all the people that support the consultants, possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise that I don’t have. It’s great that I get to tap into that on a regular basis.

What’s truly special about this community is the way we support each other. Whenever someone asks for help, even if we don’t have an immediate solution, we’re always willing to offer advice or share something we’ve done in the past. It’s a culture of generosity that not only makes the work environment more enjoyable but also ensures that we’re all growing and improving together.

And finally, what’s your favourite way to eat a potato?

A chip barm, and yes, it is a barm. 

It’s got to be chips from a fish and chip shop on a white barm, I’ve got a bit of a reputation for my beige food, so I don’t think this will come as a surprise to my fellow Hippos that I’ve picked this.


Are you interested in joining Mike in the Hippo herd?

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