Personal blogging by Steph Gray, former digital agency founder and erstwhile bureaucrat

Employee #1

Growth cartoon

When I left the civil service and set up a company, nearly two and half years ago, it’s fair to say I didn’t have much of a plan. Thanks to many kind people and plenty of luck, the purchase orders kept flowing and I’ve found myself working alongside some fantastic people, whether it’s training communicators or simulating armageddon. But for my own sanity (and because the box room at home has weak defences against two vociferous small boys), it’s time to take the next step. Or rather two.

Firstly, I’ve been lucky enough to secure Luke Oatham as Helpful Technology’s Employee #1. Luke was the first digital hero profiled on this site, and runs a great blog about intranet design and UX issues, drawing from his work at the Ministry of Justice and elsewhere.Β He’s a government webby of the finest sort, and will be joining me from September working across all the various things that we – now a proper ‘we’ – do.

Secondly… I think I mentioned the box room. As I’m now working with around 15-20 clients at any one time, having a central base to make meetings more flexible and save on the Starbucks Tax has become increasingly important. Silicon roundabout isn’t quite right for a small business working with central government, so from September we’ll be based in a bright little office in Duncannon St, just off Trafalgar Square. I’m hoping to be there three days a week, and planning to set up a little drop-in hotdesk for friends and clients to use in between Westminster meetings. It would be lovely to see you.

Despite the cuts, despite (or perhaps enabled by) the Government Digital Service, there’s clearly a market within and beyond the public sector for good value, specialist digital communications support in various forms, from social media training to WordPress digital engagement platforms; UX research to crisis simulation. With Luke on board and a more central base, I’m hoping we’ll be able to provide a better service and follow up more of the exciting leads that are coming in.

These are pretty optimistic times to be in digital, whatever sector you’re in, and that’s certainly true in my little corner. Roll on September, and thanks again for getting me this far.

Update: Luke blogs about the move

Cheesy clipart credit:

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23 comments on “Employee #1

  1. Paul Clarke says:

    Really delighted to read this – hugest best wishes!

  2. Jeremy Gould says:


  3. Peter Bowyer says:

    Great stuff, Steph!

  4. Steph says:

    Thanks chaps. Looking forward to it πŸ™‚

  5. nettie williams says:

    Looking forward to the office warming party πŸ˜‰
    Great news for you and @luke_oatham and your clients who ‘have’ to visit you in Trafalgar Square

  6. Jeremy Gould says:

    Ooh yes, can we all be “clients”?!

  7. Great news Steph! Well done!

    1. Steph says:

      I’m working through the Heroes. Shout when GDS gets boring πŸ˜‰

  8. Lou says:

    Same team. Remember that. All pulling in the same direction. Good hearts & good minds. Well deserved and well done.

    1. Steph says:

      Same direction hopefully. Different teams though! Thanks for the good wishes.

  9. Jane O'Loughlin says:

    Steph – great news on both getting Luke and new office! Really pleased for you both. Looking forward to new office tour.

    1. Steph says:

      We’ll put on a brew.

  10. Dan says:

    Just fabulous news. Couldn’t happen to a nicer chap. Well done and huge congrats!

  11. Alex Coley says:

    Very exciting. Great to hear you’re doing so well. Hope to swing by with some biscuits next time I’m hot desking at the Yard.

  12. Will says:

    Nice one Steph, here’s to employee #2!

  13. Anthony Zacharzewski says:

    Brilliant news, congratulations. Look forward to checking out the new work pad.

  14. Mark says:

    Congrats, Steph, and long may it continue. I like the ‘didn’t have much of a plan’ bit – those are usually the ones that work best. πŸ˜‰

  15. Jon Foster says:

    Congratulations – fantastic news!
    And seeing as you will be just the other side of the square, I can’t not come and visit – do shout when you’re safely installed πŸ˜‰

  16. Great news. I remember it was when my daughter, aged 18 months, was able to stand on the bottom step and reach the handle to my office door. That was the trigger for the office and employee #1 for me. Amazed you’ve lasted at home so long!

  17. Paul Campy says:

    Steph, that’s great news. Congratulations!

  18. Jenny Poole says:

    Great news -congrats Steph on growing your business! See you on Wed. Jx

  19. Andrew K says:

    Congratulations from me too!

  20. Esko Reinikainen says:

    I’m late to the party here, but, fantastic news! Well done πŸ™‚