Pete is our Systems and Support Officer. He provides technical support and assistance as part of the School's IT team.
What do you do at the School, how does it contribute to the life of the School and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?
"I am the Systems and Support Officer and help manage the IT support team. My time is mostly taken up by dealing with any technical queries people from the School may raise with us along with finding a solution to resolve them. When I'm not tackling technical queries my other duties include making sure software and updates are being deployed correctly, setting up equipment such as workstations or laptops, and also supporting other members of the IT support team with the more complex issues that may get thrown at us.
"Every day brings something different to the role and I'm always surprised when a new issue comes along that I haven't seen before; part of the fun of the job is trying to find the root cause and the sense of achievement you get when the issue gets fixed - no matter how infuriating it can sometimes be.
"If you require any help with your IT needs or just after some advice then you would come to me and either myself or one of my team will be happy to help you out."
What's the biggest misconception people have about your position? And how do you respond to them?
"Being in an IT support role I suppose one of the biggest misconceptions is that we just tell people to turn it off and on again because we are being lazy! For many, this probably sounds like a quick fix, however this is actually a good first step when it comes to troubleshooting. It can wipe any temporary data that might be causing the issue and helps to revert the machine back to a 'clean' slate. There certainly is method in the madness when we ask whether you have done this!"
Whats a work-related accomplishment that you're really proud of?
"I think this is a testament to all the individuals within the IT team but I'm certainly proud of how well we tackled the pandemic. March 2020 was a whirlwind of change with the majority of us essentially becoming home workers overnight. I'm particularly proud of how the team were able to source and set up equipment on such short notice, as well as how they coped with moving from being an on-site support team to a predominantly remote support team."
Can you tell us something about your career path so far? What have been your career highlights?
"My main career path has been mostly in IT support. As someone who has always had a passion for computers, after finishing my A-Levels and deciding university wasn't for me (the irony of eventually working in a university is not lost) I decided to enrol on a 6-month intense training course specialising in IT fundamentals. The course not only gave me the knowledge but also allowed me to achieve industry standard qualifications, some of which have followed me throughout my career. After finishing that course, I went straight into a junior support role for an energy company based in Oxford and Northampton and was there for around 6 years and eventually became one of the more senior members of that team. During this time some of the projects I was involved in were the rollout of Windows 7 from XP (showing my age here), the upgrade of their email infrastructure, the creation of virtual desktops and the introduction of a central knowledge base for the team and the users.
Following on from that role I then joined the School of Geography and the Environment and have been here for just over 4 years. Since working in the department I have been introduced to systems such as Linux as well as helping roll out Windows 10 for all our users. In addition to my main IT role, for the past 18 months I have also been finding time to work towards a Level 3 Management and Team leadership qualification which has introduced me to the world of management along with the responsibilities that entails."
What do you like most about working in SoGE?
"This is going to sound very corny, but it's certainly the people that make working here enjoyable. I'm fortunate that being a member of the IT department allows me to deal with groups from all areas of the department ranging from students, academics and support staff. While they come to us usually when they're at their most stressed, such as when the network is down or their machine decides to do a 4 hour update, they are the most understanding and accepting people I've ever worked with. Aside from the people I also enjoy the career opportunities the department allows us to pursue and I feel the department is very supportive in helping further my career."
Do you have any interests outside of work that you'd like to tell us about?
"As much as I love sitting back and delving into a new series I feel life is too short to let the world go by, so I'm always trying to find ways to experience new things. I was fortunate enough last year to learn how to ski and it was something I was keen to develop further this year, however present circumstances put a hold to that. I've also taken up learning how to DJ which probably isn't something many people will be aware of. It's always something I've been keen to learn and I thought it was a good way to fill the vast amount of free time we all found ourselves having during lockdown. While you probably won't see me selling out to crowds anytime soon, I could probably fudge a cheesy disco.
"Other interests outside of work include being part of a quiz team; a hidden talent of mine is to remember sheer amounts of useless knowledge about popular culture over the past two decades - while that will probably not get me far in life it does allow me to score the winning points. Finally, most weekends I also tend to help out at my local LGBT centre, playing my part in raising awareness for inclusivity and equality."