For our next Head of Knowledge interview, we meet Richard Gaston who is Head of Knowledge and Research at Addleshaw Goddard LLP.
1) How did you end up as Head of Knowledge? Was there a key factor / turning point in your ending up in this role?
I joined Addleshaw Goddard with a background in business information, research and analysis, and came to help build out this capability in what was then the Information Services team. I was subsequently fortunate to be given, and to be able to find, a number of opportunities to expand the scope of my role. In early 2016 I presented a paper written with the help of our PSL team to our Exec – we sought (and were given) Exec sponsorship for KM, as well as recognition that effective KM was essential for successful delivery of the Firm’s strategy.
2) What job did you envision having when you were young?
A marine archaeologist! I was inspired by watching Blue Peter and seeing the dives on, and recovery of, the Mary Rose.
3) If you could have any job in the world, with no limitations (salary, location, hours etc) what would you do?
I still have a lingering hankering to be an academic – if I could combine that with 6 months of the year spent in Florence, and 6 months of the year in the UK…that might be my ideal job.
4) Describe your organisation in three words
Collaborative. Innovative. Growing.
5) What is the hardest thing about your role?
Raising and maintaining the profile of our KM work alongside the many competing priorities facing our fee-earning and business services colleagues.
6) What is the best thing about your role?
People! I have a great team, and the opportunity to work with lots of people in lots of different roles across the business, as well as with our clients.
7) What is the biggest change that you’ve witnessed during your career in Knowledge?
As with almost every other profession, the impact of technology. I started my career learning how to search print indices, and run command-line searches on elementary online databases. Technology has revolutionised our ability to manage and find accurate information.
8) What three things are you focusing on for the next three years?
Development of our KM people. Document automation. Search.
9) What do you think is the most exciting new development coming in Knowledge work / KM?
Developing technologies mean a greater focus and more time available to spend on what I think are the more important (and human) factors in KM – developing knowledge-sharing cultures and KM people, adding value and insight to the information we manage.
10) What advice do you have for aspiring Heads of Knowledge
Be opportunistic. Volunteer for projects (even the apparently boring ones) – this helps to build trust and credibility with senior people and will open doors to more interesting work in future.
Be pragmatic. You probably have the tools and resources to solve many of your organisations KM challenges already (without buying lots of new technology) you just have to think laterally about how to apply what you have to the problems you face.
Thanks Richard, great to hear your story, and great advice – be pragmatic and opportunistic and think laterally.
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