Lana Smith on fixing the bike whilst riding it

Lana Smith on fixing the bike whilst riding it
Lana Smith, Digital Lead at The Charity for Civil Servants shares how she keeps up with the constantly evolving digital world.

Lana Smith, Digital Lead at The Charity for Civil Servants, chats with us all about the unique challenges faced within her role, and shares how she keeps up with the constantly evolving digital world. 


Why did you choose to pursue a role in digital? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance? 

I was always 'bedazzled' by it; it was something new and shiny. As I was graduating and as a millennial, social felt very natural, despite not being tech-savvy at all! I felt like if I could master this, I would be able to take on the world. If I developed my skills, it could be the best way to bring my passions of saving the world to life, and make a dent in a better digital experience, rather than being frustrated with technology. I worked at it, learnt as much as I could, volunteered, interned and was constantly inspired by creativity and the art of possible. 


What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the digital sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular? 

The most important skills are being adaptable, being able to see the big picture and being able to fit ideas together to provide solutions. I'm always curious, inspired and solution focussed. Interest, to be able to research to know 'what is possible'. Knowledge to creatively challenge the status quo. You also need to be able to focus with determination, to fight through all the last minute changes, updates and things that occur daily. You also have to be a great communicator and educator, to see things from a completely unknown perspective to clarify and give context, to help everyone understand your goal/vision and bring them along with you. This last skill is the most important because we don't get very far alone. We always need a team, a network, a support framework. 


What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out? 

So many challenges for my role. Trying to keep up with a constantly changing digital world, where updates, new information, data privacy and global platforms transition and we have to be able to know what to say, how to say it and how to react to get the best outcome when the goalposts are in continuous motion. Other challenges have included structural reshuffles, team turnover and 'fixing the bike whilst riding it' - but it hasn't got any wheels. The right tools can only get you so far, but they can enable so much further ahead in the long run if you know how and where to invest time in systems, training and infrastructure. 


What one thing would make your working life easier?

A PA and an expanded team of specialists who can expand as more work is 'dropped in' by multiple teams with the word 'just'. At the moment we are a skeleton crew, developing as we go, supporting each other with patience, common sense and logic. The good news is, everything is easily learnable and we have this amazing resource that we can ask literally anything and it will try its best to give us an answer. Shared logic, strategy and execution makes working together a seamless experience. 


How is digital perceived in your organisation? 

As a big, scary, mystical beast. Something that 'is just there' is automated and not manual at all. Computers = the internet = work, so I get all kinds of IT/hardware/'my google isn't working' kind of support requests all the time. I say 'we make the magic happen' and I think it feels like magic to many. 


What do you think the secret of success is when working in digital?

Being interested. You have to care about what everyone is doing - brands, agencies, culture. You have to want to create change in some way or form, whether it's from 0 to somewhere or from 10 to 100 in performance marketing. There are so many strings to a digital bow and so much integral knowledge, that you have to be interested and have to care to keep striving to get it right. 


At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our comms clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think digital teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders? 

Obviously the bottom line deliverables for any organisation, but we get so much wonderful, interesting contextual data that it's such an honour to tell the story of 'how we got this and what it really means'. I like to pull out trend anomalies, things that stand out from what we expect and challenge hypotheses to continuously learn and evolve. I like to say what we tested and why and what we've discovered along the way, to really paint a full picture with data.


Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in digital? 

When I started out, I did a project on the future of digital for a large well known company, to show them what scientific digital research was being done and what to plan for and invest in. Back then facepay, self driving cars and digital tracking felt so futuristic, and now it's a daily reality. 

The next big thing is only a dream away from everyone. Personally, video is so compelling and the boundaries between video/AR and traditional media are blurring. I expect more convergence and alignment with new influence, but with a caveat of trusted technology (especially in the Covid era) to rewrite the current cultural media landscape, for more trustworthy digital experiences for digital safety, sanity and serenity.