COMMUNITEA with Nainesh Mehta

In this series we’re bringing a stream of leaders across the world of tech and digital together to discuss a number of thought provoking topics, giving you insights from those pushing the boundaries and driving innovation and change.

Today I’m pleased to be joined by Nainesh Mehta, a seasoned software engineering professional having started his career at the beginning of the millennium. Starting out as an intern at a small software house, Nainesh’s career path has led him to London where he has worked across multiple industries, gaining valuable experience, moving through the career ladder and learning valuable lessons along the way.

Nainesh is now the Head of Product Platforms at News UK where he is responsible for creating a cross-functional team working on News UK’s first ever design system.

Welcome Nainesh!

Tell us about your current position?

I am the Head of Product Platforms at NewsUK which is home to the UK’s leading publishers The Times and Sunday Times, The Sun & broadcaster Wireless Group.

What’ does a typical day look like for you as Head of Product Platforms?

On any given day I could be deep in spreadsheets, budgeting and financing for the team, planning the next quarter or next years strategic direction. Mentoring my direct reports, creating dashboards to measure our KPI’s, liaising with our colleagues in the UK and across the globe to share ideas and progress with the various things we work on. Catching up with my team and testing out ways to socialise remotely and somewhere in between all that, trying to find some time to workout!

How are you and the team driving business or customer value through technology or the cloud?

My team is building out a multi-brand themeable design system that will allow the business to launch products at pace. It’s a scalable platform backed by a world class design system that will provide a consistent look and feel across our products whilst reducing duplication which ultimately saves time and money.

What are the biggest challenges you as a leader face today?

Coming from a time when we all worked in close proximity and socialised regularly, my biggest challenge now is to continue to keep my team motivated and driven towards our goals and ensure that we are still continuing to deliver value to the business at the same rate we used to before whilst trying innovative ways of socialising remotely.

What does a successful team look like?

One that is extremely passionate about the problem they are trying to solve, they can work autonomously, deliver value at pace and at a high quality and most importantly have fun whilst doing it. Whilst building my teams, talent and experience are a small part of what I look for, I focus more on the drive and willingness to learn and grow, someone that is passionate about their craft and of course a team player.

How do you ensure you and NewsUK stays ahead of the curve?

Our industry is extremely competitive and every publication is vying for that first spot on search engines when news breaks. We make sure we stay ahead by creating and building digital products that users want to engage with and deliver content that people want to read.

Using experimentation we only release features that we know our customers engage with. Our products are continually monitored and improved to maintain site performance and we ensure our digital products are search engine optimised to maximise organic traffic growth.

Which quote defines you?

“Leaders are teachers”

Who inspires you?

The All Blacks

Tell us a story you’re not telling enough?

Creating a design system that satisfies a number of different brands is extremely complex! It needs enough flexibility to showcase each brand’s identity and unique feel and user experience.

Design Systems have been around a while, but are still not widely adopted and used in organisations that build digital products. If you are a company that supports multiple brands, you should highly consider using a design system. It will bring cost efficiencies, reduce duplication and bring a consistent look and feel to your digital product landscape. Companies such as Github, Atlasian, Skyscanner have open sourced design systems that you can download and play around with. NewsUK’s design system NewsKit will be launching shortly, however you can view the beta version here: https://www.newskit.co.uk

What three pieces of advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

  1. Remote working will be here to stay, create a culture that thrives in that working environment.
  2. Don’t assume you know what a customer wants? Test and test again using digital experimentation and drive your decisions based on the data.
  3. If you (and your team) are not having fun doing what you are doing, you are doing the wrong thing.

Great overview and insights from Nainesh, thank you so much for being a part of the Communitea guest blog series! To continue following the NewsUK technology journey check out https://medium.com/news-uk-technology and their Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/newsuk_tech/

If you would like to participate in a future session or have questions you would like to ask our next series of leaders please get in touch adele.lewis@esynergy-solutions.co.uk.