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Ella Rice, Product Owner, IT Services

Ella Rice is a Product Owner in IT Services. In her profile, Ella discusses how she herself benefited from using LinkedIn Learning in her career progression, her favourite places on campus, and what it is like to be the world's worst DJ.


How long have you worked at Queen Mary?  

A long, long time. Over 20 years... oh that makes me feel old! I’ve just started as Queen Mary’s first official Product Owner this month having been a Business Analyst in IT Services prior to that. 

My first role at Queen Mary was as a Lab Warden while I was a student on the Science and Engineering Foundation Programme in 1996. I went on to the BSc Computer Science with Business Studies programme. During my graduation ceremony, I was on stage shaking hands with one of my lecturers, Dr Jon Rowson, when he asked if I would stay on and do a Masters degree. Wow! Me? I thought I'd never even considered it and the rest is history. I've been at Queen Mary ever since. I was born and raised in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and moved over to IT Services in January 2020. I’m soon to become a Product Owner in January 2022, with massive credit to LinkedIn Learning's learning path on becoming a Product Manager.  I promise this is not a paid advertisement for the service, but the platform has genuinely helped me shape my future and change my career direction. 

Describe your average day/week 

My average week involves lots of meetings, connecting with people, trying to find out user requirements, and really understanding the pain points in a colleague's system or product they are using. I also write project-related management documents, give presentations, run workshops and do lots of learning. The hardest part is fitting it into a 35 hour work week. As a recovering people pleaser, my new Product Owner role requires the emergence of the alter ego of 'Master No'.  

My new job role is to maximise the value of our Student Support systems and related IT products with the mindset that we (the development team) can do anything but not everything in a short time frame. I will have to filter out what is essential to bring about the most beneficial impact. 

LinkedIn Learning is helping me grow in knowing when and how to use my no's by studying the courses on communication skills, productivity, and learning how to manage others unrealistic (and often unspoken) expectations on the team's workload. We're not 100% there yet, but it's a work in progress. 

Do you work closely with any particular colleagues or teams? How does that work?  

That's one great thing about my job. I get to work with many great colleagues in different areas, from EECS to Registry, Marketing and Communications, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the Student Union, and our students - some of the most critical Queen Mary family members. 

What's the best thing about your job?  

Helping people realise their dreams in a roundabout way. I've been privileged in my previous and current roles to be the facilitator in bringing solutions that align with the person. Some through recruitment to degree programmes or looking for ways to resolve technical challenges 

You're the Project Owner for LinkedIn Learning, tell us a bit about it and what the benefits are?  

LinkedIn Learning is an award-winning industry leader in online training, with a digital library of over 6,000 courses covering a wide range of technical, business, software and creative topics. 

Launching LinkedIn Learning is a strong commitment to providing e-learning opportunities for employees and students as part of our Digital Workplace Programme. You will be able to bookmark courses that suit your interests, keep track of the courses you have taken, and when you complete a course, you'll receive a certificate. 

You have the opportunity to refine or develop your professional skills, learn new software, and explore other areas as you plan for your career growth. 

LinkedIn Learning launched for students last year, tell us what the plans are for LinkedIn here at Queen Mary?  

LinkedIn Learning is becoming an intrinsic tool to aid students in their teaching and learning as courses are curated and selected by their module leaders to support them.  We are looking for student learning ambassadors who want to curate content to support other student learners or start learning communities by subject rather than status. 

I’m personally looking to start a Microsoft Excel ninja group. It’s not the most exciting areas, but as Excel is so powerful, it's one of those tools that unless you have a specific thing to do with it, you don’t use their myriad of functions available. As Data Analytics is becoming more important, I know mastering the tool will only aid my work - making my life easier in the future. 

It’s a New Year. What do you have planned for 2022?

This year I’m focusing on setting myself up to achieve my goals.

The New Year brings optimism, and many of us reflect on the previous year, what worked, what didn’t and identify areas where we want to make changes in our life. We often think about what our ideal life looks like and set goals or resolutions. But we usually start to fall short, somewhere around mid-January, when it comes to following through.

We can overcome this by establishing good habits and making little but steady progress, which overtime time compounds.

So this year, I’m taking part and inviting others to join in the New Year, New You LinkedIn Learning Challenge. A 3-week challenge starting January 25 (after the hump of failure), designed to set you up for success in establishing habits that stick.   Each learning task is less than 5 mins to complete, and there is a handy calendar to help you stay on track. The challenge is even more impactful if you participate with a buddy or in a group, so you can keep each other accountable.  

What would New Year 2023 look like when looking back and saying  ‘yes! I smashed those goals’  That’s a vision I’m working on making a reality.

What do you see as your role in helping the University achieve its Strategy 2030?  

Being a small cog in an extensive system that is helping people help themselves develop to be the best version of themselves by adopting new skills, talents and competencies that enhance their intrinsic sense of self.    

Our students are already here to study a specific subject with these end goals in mind. Providing access to LinkedIn Learning is by helping Queen Mary have a community where every member is at the top of their games, with a future-proofed career. 

My goal is to help each individual I can connect with directly or indirectly unleash their power and achieve their goals. 

What's your favourite place on any of our campuses?  

Ooh, that's a tough one. I'd say it's a toss-up between the Chaplaincy, Canal Side at Mile End and the Dept W rooftop.   

If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Queen Mary, what would it be?  

Dream bigger than you think you can achieve right now, knowing that Queen Mary is a powerful and fabulous springboard that can propel you to your goals. 

Only you can stop you from achieving your dreams, and when challenges come across your path, see them as a genuine growth opportunity. Don't wish for your problems to be smaller, wish you are better and find the LinkedIn Learning course to help you! 

If you hadn't been a Product Owner, what job would you have liked to do?  

Be an augmented reality developer developing apps and games that use life coaching to help kids and grown wounded adults heal themselves and reach their full potential. 

Do you have any unusual hobbies, pastimes outside of work?  

I am the worlds worst DJ - I love to spin the decks, but I'm terrible at it. I have an excellent ear for music and mixing a kicking beat, particularly soulful and lo-fi house, but my sausage fingers won't keep up, so I've had to move to a digital format. Mastering vinyl is one of the items on my bucket list. 

And as cliche as it sounds, I LOVE to learn. I'm constantly partaking in personal growth and self-development. I've fully embraced the NET concept - No Extra Time. So, whenever I can listen and do something else simultaneously, I'm plugged into a LinkedIn Learning course, audiobook or YouTube video, be it while I'm driving, on the train or shivering at the rugby club while my little ones are at training. 



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