Women in Digital: Hannah Rutter

Hannah Rutter, deputy director for digital identity and secure connected places, on her career path, how she overcomes challenges and where she finds her inspiration.

Posted 13 December 2021 by Christine Horton

Did you enjoy school?

Yes. I had some health issues which meant I missed a lot – made me more appreciative of the times I was there. Except P.E. My hand-eye coordination is rubbish and I learnt to forge my Dad’s handwriting to get out of it!

What qualifications do you have?

I’ve got a history and politics degree. It’s been on the job training since then.

Has your career path been a smooth transition, a rocky road or a combination of both?

In my time in the civil service I’ve been privileged to do a real range of roles. My career has been driven by what I find interesting, rather than any grand plan!

What is the best career advice you can give to others?

Stealing with pride from Emily Miles, reframe your self-doubt as a superpower.

If you had to pick one mentor that had the biggest influence on you, who would it be?

Andrea Cooper, who I worked with in the Cabinet Office Policy Lab. She demonstrated leadership I could aspire to and gave me skills I use to work in a way that supports my values; delivery by working with people, not trying to do things to them.

From where do you draw inspiration?

My team. Whenever I feel bogged down in difficulties, hearing their ideas and how they’re tackling the task in hand really brings me back to life.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced to date?

Working out how to be good at my job when becoming a parent meant I couldn’t just throw more hours at it. I learnt to rely on the people around me and prioritise ruthlessly. It’s also made me far more decisive – prevarication takes time I just don’t have!

What qualities do you feel makes a good leader?

Sharing enthusiasm and vision but recognising the best ideas to achieve those things will come from others. Your job is to make sure you’re listening.

From a work viewpoint what has the last 12 months been like?

A juggle! Work and home life crashed into each other and I’ve been struggling with long Covid. I’m so proud of all we’ve achieved, despite the difficulties.

What would you say are the biggest tech-based challenges we face today?

Those that don’t have a tech-based answer. Trust, security, ethics – we need to work at the human level to ensure tech really does improve our lives.

Give us a fact about you that most other people wouldn’t know.

Colleagues who I’d only met online in the last year have been rather surprised by how short I am in real life!