This document explains the role of Lead Academy Instructor (Product and Consultancy). The role focuses on the Product and Consultancy aspects of a career in tech and works closely with the other technical (software coding) Lead Academy Instructors and Academy Instructors. This guide sets out what is expected of you when performing the role.
What is a Lead Academy Instructor (Product and Consultancy)?
The Lead Academy Instructor (Product and Consultancy) is a full-time role which leads the delivery of multiple Academy programmes each year. These programmes are crucial in helping us train our new Associate Consultants to become full-stack consultant software engineers for Next Generation Engineering.
The role is a Product and Consultancy focussed version of the Lead Academy Instructor (Technical). This role expands our capability to deliver a well-rounded curriculum at a larger scale and opens up the possibility of supporting those in tech roles outside of coding-centric disciplines.
Like the Lead Academy Instructor (Technical) role, this full-time instructor role helps provide a constant that remains in place across programmes, ensuring sustainability and longevity of the Academy. The role of working alongside the Academy Instructors who join for one or two programmes balances the most up-to-date experience and fresh ideas that Academy Instructors bring, with the need to have repeatability and strategic direction taken into account as well.
It's worth noting that our reason for not making all of the Academy Instructor roles permanent is twofold. Firstly, it is so that we can continue to draw on the skills of people who are hands-on in engineering consultancy roles day-to-day, and who are right up to date in terms of their skills and knowledge of technology. Secondly, it is so that we can offer opportunities to consultants at Next Generation Engineering to try something new and different, and to also build a really valuable set of skills that are so important to consultancy too.
How does this differ from the (technical) Lead Academy Instructor role?
Put simply, the specialism and background of the Lead Academy Instructor (Product and Consultancy) do not need to be in writing software code or having a software engineering background. It is a technology role and requires a background of working in tech teams delivering software, but one which focuses more on the challenge of building the right product, understanding the business, stakeholders and user needs and providing consultancy rather than creating the software itself through code.
What skills are required?
The role requires a strong background in working in teams delivering software and creating valuable products. You should have experience with modern software delivery approaches and frameworks. The product and consultancy specialism means you should understand and have experience with taking software from the idea stage through to live operation, helping, for example, to understand the goal, value and vision for the product or service, help break down user needs and how to understand success and help to translate this into tangible features for the team to build. Roles like (but not limited to) product owner, business analyst, delivery lead or agile coach are the types of background that we're expecting people will have. We aim to find someone who's been, and still is, a successful member of a tech team and who understands how effective teams build great software and is keen to share this knowledge with others.
It's hard to pin down a list of specific techniques, skills and experiences given there is a wide number of ways to approach any problem. The list below is however the types of skills we'd look to help Academites understand and cover in some shape or form in the Neil Jennings programme as of May 2021.
- Agile values and principles, and the alternatives
- Agile methodology, approach and frameworks
- Product vision, value, roadmaps and strategy
- Understanding what we need to build - features, user stories, specification by example
- Definition of done and acceptance criteria
- Estimation and planning
- Specialisms and non-coding roles in tech, how these fit in and the value they bring when done well
- How teams work and what makes a high-performing team
- How to give feedback and foster open, honest and effective communication
- Approaches for dealing with stakeholders, challenging or otherwise
This role is usually carried out by those at career level CL8 Senior and above.
What are the responsibilities of the Lead Academy Instructor (Product and Consultancy)?
The Lead Academy Instructor (Product and Consultancy) role encompasses all the non-technical responsibilities of the Academy Instructor role. These are summarised listed below for convenience.
Specific to the Lead Academy Instructor role
- Create, deliver and develop a technically excellent curriculum that is effective in helping us train and grow the best consultants for Next Generation Engineering.
- In future, there is scope for the role to also focus on creating and delivering effective training for existing experienced staff across a range of technologies and disciplines.
- Ensure the course materials are to a high professional standard and on-brand.
- Ensure the learning experience is effective and caters for a range of learning styles and levels of prior experience.
- Strike the right balance of allowing Academy Instructors to rework materials and suggest new revisions to the programmes whilst also guarding against reinventing the wheel and unnecessary churn. Academy Instructors need to feel empowered to make changes, keep things fresh and bring new ideas, and also to accommodate their individual teaching styles.
- Collaborate closely with the Director of Academy on all of the above.
In addition to the above, what are some specifics for the Product and Consultancy focus?
- Own, develop and deliver the post-programme content across all programmes.
- Create, enhance and deliver curriculum modules around consultancy and non-coding skills, bringing in other Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to support where appropriate.
- Do the above across the Neil Jennings Academy, Generation programmes and client academies. That is, anywhere where non-coding specific content is beneficial.
- Own and develop a wider Academy curriculum around a focus on product/business analysis.
- Working with the Design area of Next Generation Engineering, own and develop a curriculum around service design as required.
In common with the Academy Instructor role
- Deliver the existing Academy programme, following the curriculum and using the course materials that we've created.
- Participate in enhancing the programme further. We're looking for the Academy Instructor to bring ideas and knowledge from client accounts together with their personal experience. This helps us continue to improve and to keep the programme fresh and as up-to-date as possible.
- Work with speakers from within the business to cover a variety of topics from the training schedule, e.g. specialist talks on Agile, Testing, Cloud, Data etc.
- Work with the Academy team on the wider curriculum to ensure it's delivering a great all-round experience for the Academites.
- Run a mixture of classroom training sessions, retros, talks, exercises and other teaching methods as required!
- Supervise and support as the cohort put their learnings into practice by working with them individually and in pairs/groups as needed.
- Ensure everyone is working to the timetable to stay on track.
- Assess and monitor progress of the Academites throughout the programme.
- Support with client placements by providing input into which Academite goes where.
- Come up with a final project for the programme, in collaboration with the Academy team.
The aim of this is to give them experience of working in a team in an Next Generation Engineering way together with applied learning around building a software product. For each Academy programme, we choose a fictitious business context for an otherwise realistic software application, which then allows us to simulate a typical client delivery project but without the real client pressure. This gives them a chance to apply the skills they've been taught and build towards an end of Academy launch event. Some previous examples of what's been created include an Archery scoring application, Infinopoly, InfiniPie Works and InfiniPets.
Qualities and experience we're looking for and why these are relevant
- Experience in teaching, training or coaching others. You should be able to draw on skills you've built in effectively developing others, as success in this role is focused on helping people gain the skills they need to become great software engineers.
- Great communication and facilitation skills. Working with a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and learning styles will mean this role will rely heavily on your ability to communicate effectively and facilitate sessions with great outcomes for all involved. We're looking for someone who enjoys creating a fun, high-energy, and inspiring learning environment, who can adapt quickly to different needs, and is comfortable being "at the front of the room" keeping people engaged.
- Understanding of what makes training effective. Part of the role will be to continually hone and improve the curriculum to improve its effectiveness and keep it up-to-date. Knowledge of teaching and learning theory (and even better, the experience of applying these) will help you ensure that the design of the Academy curriculum is producing the best results for both the learners and Next Generation Engineering.
- A strong sense of ownership and personal responsibility. Helping teach others and ensure they do well is highly rewarding, but brings with it the need to take responsibility, and to constantly reflect, adapt, and improve to ensure things are going well. We're looking for you to be able to show how you've done so in your work and life so far and why you're keen to bring this to Next Generation Engineering.
- Motivation for helping others. The appeal of this role should draw heavily on your motivation to help others, from all backgrounds and walks of life, and build new skills and start a highly successful career in technology.