For our fourth interview with a Head of Knowledge, I’m delighted to introduce Zoe Huckle, who is Head of Knowledge for the HMRC Solicitors Office and Legal Services.
1. How did you end up as Head of Knowledge? Was there a key factor/turning point in your ending up in this role?
I had been a Government lawyer in litigation and advisory for about 16 years and on my return from maternity leave was looking at a new role when I was asked to take on the first official KM lawyer role at Treasury Solicitor’s due to the fact it was known that I had organised the knowledge in my previous teams. It was supposed to be a two year secondment but was so successful that the role was expanded to the larger department and I stayed for 9 years eventually biting the bullet and applying for Head of KM at HMRC in 2016.
2. What job did you envision having when you were young?
3. If you could have any job in the world, with no limitations (salary, location, hours etc) what would you do?
4. Describe your organisation in three words.
Academic, expanding, changing.
5. What is the hardest thing about your role?
It’s a new role so the hardest thing at the moment is getting to grips with the work of the organisation and how it fits together and on top of this persuading people to embrace change.
6. What is the best thing about your role?
Having an overview of a large organisation and how it fits together and meeting very clever, interesting people.
7. What is the biggest change that you’ve witnessed during your career in Knowledge?
I am not a KM professional – I qualified and practiced as a lawyer for 17 years and when I first moved to the world of KM I really hated the language used to describe what people wanted to achieve. More recently, people seem to have returned to the use of every day language which makes it easier to communicate. I don’t want to have to “reach out” to people, I just want to communicate with them!
8. What three things are you focusing on for the next three years?
Setting up a system of knowledge that people are happy to contribute to and take responsibility for; encourage greater collaboration; encourage greater collaboration (yes I am cheating here but that is my focus).
9. What do you think is the most exciting new development coming in Knowledge work/KM?
There are lots of technical developments that make KM easier but I think there is a return to basics, i.e. a recognition that knowledge management is not an end to itself but is there to provide a service to users to ensure they have access to the knowledge or person who has the know-how to do their job.
10. What advice do you have for aspiring Heads of Knowledge?
Remember that the people you are providing a service to often have deadlines that are far more important than the one you are asking them to respond to. Give people a reasonable time frame in which to respond to you and get to know how they work so you can make sure that KM supports them particularly when their backs are up against the wall. Also, retain your sense of humour.
Thanks Zoe. It’s really interesting to hear from Heads of Knowledge outside private practice. And it makes me so happy to see that collaboration is your focus! So often the basics get overlooked.
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