Q&A with our new Delivery Director, Kirstin

We put some questions to our new Delivery Director Kirstin to understand more about her and what she's looking forward to in her new role within Ayup.

By Kirstin Blackwell

Q: What motivated you to join our company, and what excites you most about your new role?

I’ve actually known the Ayup team for some years and worked with them in my previous role so it was really exciting to have an opportunity to come and work within the team rather than as a partner. Ayup’s values are really aligned to my own and I’m mainly excited about being a part of the journey that is in front of us at what is a really exciting time for the company. We’ve got lots of plans and ideas and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Q: Can you share a bit about your professional background and the journey that led you to this point in your career?

My background brings together a range of experiences within the health and social care space, including co-design and co-production, community engagement, information design and delivery of digital and non-digital projects. I’ve worked with partners and clients from across the health system, in particular Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), local authorities, VCSE organisations, universities as well as pharmaceutical and medtech organisations. In recent years, my work areas have included inclusive digital transformation, digital inclusion and inputting to the design and delivery of digitally enabled health and care services and tools at Thrive by Design, an NHS team based in Leeds.

Q: What are your initial impressions of the company culture, and how do you envision contributing to it?

Some of the things that help me feel comfortable in a workplace were there from the offset, a relaxed atmosphere, feeling like you have space to ask questions and understand how stuff works, and being trusted implicitly. You can tell this is a team that enjoy working together and with their clients, and really care about what they do.

I’m passionate about making sure that all members of a team are able to contribute, engage and work in a way that works for them, so will be thinking of things we can embed here at Ayup that will support this now and for years to come.

Q: What specific skills or experiences do you bring to your new role that you think will be valuable for the team?

The core of my role will be leading project delivery and I am hoping that my extensive experience communicating and engaging with different people, partners and stakeholders will be key to this. I am really driven by understanding different peoples’ experiences and needs and will be looking to bring this into all of our work, from client collaboration, to co-production with residents, and beyond. I’ve lots of experience supporting others to understand complex medical and/or technical information and I think this will also be valuable here at Ayup where I’ll interface closely with our technical colleagues.

I’m also hoping that my background in digital inclusion and creating equitable and accessible services and tools will further support the human aspects that are so important to the Ayup team.

Q: In your first few days here, what has stood out to you about our team or workplace that you find unique or interesting?

The focus the whole team have on the human and people related elements of what we do. One thing that really emphasises this is the focus on creating a community of practice for clients who are already operating an Ayup Connect directory and facilitating regular community meet-ups. This isn’t about just creating some tech and walking away again, there’s a real desire to keep understanding what barriers people may be facing, creating a space for sharing of ideas and best practice and working together.

Q: Are there any specific projects or goals you're particularly eager to tackle in your new position?

Initially I’m pretty keen to get out working with some of our clients to see the impact the product is having in different places and understand how we can keep improving on our offer with the ultimate aim to help more residents, and in new places too!

Q: How do you see your role evolving or growing in the future, and what steps do you plan to take to develop professionally?

I’ve got quite a unique opportunity to evolve my role from the offset and understand how best I can support the team and bring in my skills and experience, so I think this will happen naturally over time. I am naturally inquisitive about things so I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities for developing new skills here too.

Q: Outside of work, what are some hobbies or interests that you're passionate about, and how do you balance them with your professional life?

Adventuring outside with my (very) bouncy spaniel or making the most of being based in Leeds as a great place for live music, comedy and tasty bites. I also volunteer with a local Girlguiding group and enjoy getting out and about with them especially in the Spring and Summer months.

Kirstin Blackwell

Delivery Director

Kirstin leads the delivery of our projects and supports the team to deliver in line with client, stakeholder and community requirements.

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