I’m James Gale, and I’m bringing you the final edition of the Project Management Graduate Blog from the 2017 intake. I’ll pause quickly to allow you to shed a tear… Thank you to my colleagues who have written the editions before me, providing you all with updates regarding our progression through the programme.
The last 7 and a half months have flown by, and we are really starting to feel settled into our projects and working life at Computacenter. In this final edition, I thought it would be a good idea to update you on where everyone is currently working, and how the graduate rotations have helped them so far in their new projects.
Firstly though, please allow me a little self-indulgent waffle! I’m from a town called Lechlade, kind of between Swindon and Oxford, and graduated in July 2017 from the University of Reading with a First Class Honours in Business and Management. My early experiences of work, as a waiter and later as a tennis coach, developed my soft skills and showed me how much I enjoy working with all sorts of customers in different types of teams. These experiences, coupled with an interest in technology developed through a 13 month placement at IBM, is why I thought life as a project manager at Computacenter would suit me.
So far, so good! Since joining Computacenter I have been overwhelmed with the time given to us graduates. Gaining exposure to most areas of Computacenter has accelerated our development and allowed us to build a network that is proving invaluable to our project work.
I’m currently working with Mark Goddard (UK Data Protection Officer) on an internal GDPR implementation project. It’s a fantastic first project to be a part of, helping to shape something very important to Computacenter’s future legal compliance (this is where I insert a subtle plug to do your online training). The knowledge gained through my rotations of project management practices has allowed me to own certain work streams already. Understanding the different departments at Computacenter has enabled me to positively contribute to discussions in my project about how different areas of CC handle personal data. My highlight of the programme so far was travelling to Germany to work on development of an online tool for the GDPR project. Working across the Group has shown me the international scale of Computacenter which has been challenging and rewarding.
Now, back to the group of 2017. We are all fully engaged with our projects, which is allowing us to truly appreciate the benefits from our rotations. Here’s a short update from each of the 2017 Projects Graduates…
- My first project is on the Post Office account in the POL Deployment Team. It’s a very dynamic, reactive role which involves a lot of liaison between scheduling teams, engineers and technical support.
- A fictional project assignment in our rotations gave us some useful exposure to the pre-sales and governance process. Now that I am on a big deployment project, I can really appreciate the logistical problems and challenges during deployment and how difficult prediction is during the Pre-Sales process.
- My highlight of the programme so far was getting our hands dirty with TRG. I will fondly remember my time dismantling and reassembling laptops (probably doing more damage than good)!
- I am currently on the Managed Print project for The Authority. It’s interesting to see how lots of projects fit together to empower the customer’s work force and remain secure.
- Currently I am managing risk, change and tracking finances. The rotations helped me understand how these activities I perform fit into the wider picture at CC, i.e. how the finances I track will input into the E-WIP database and be used to forecast Projects Practices’ contribution to the company.
- There were many highlights during the 6 months of rotations, however the ultimate highlight was the International Project Management rotation in Barcelona. It was my first time in Barcelona and what a great city! Over a few days we learnt the importance of thinking and acting globally to grow and protect our business.
- I am currently working within GMS on various Automation Projects with the aim of driving Service improvements. It’s really interesting to see how we are driving service improvements, creating value for our customers and ourselves.
- The wide exposure to different business units through the rotations has allowed me to understand their key business drivers. Understanding how automation benefits these different units really helps with progressing and overcoming issues that arise.
- The highlight of the rotations for me was travelling around the country and across seas to really understand what Computacenter do for our customers and what sets us apart from competitors. Now putting what I learnt into practice is a huge benefit of the programme to aid my development.
- I’ve been working on the Hays PPO for just over a month now. In this time I’ve grown my project portfolio from just 1 project to 11! I’ve had to quickly become familiar with a PPO structure and processes, along with gaining more knowledge about the different technologies we support.
- From our rotations the most useful knowledge for me has been the different ways the departments within Computacenter are structured. Understanding the priorities, workloads and processes of different teams has helped my interaction with them.
- My highlight was the Service Management rotation, where I went to Edinburgh for 3 weeks to shadow Brian Rutherford on Standard Life and Scottish Power. It really opened my eyes to the services Computacenter provide – which considering the enormity of this side of our company, I had little knowledge of before I went.
- I’m currently working with Hannah Andrews and Angela Smith on Project Charon. It’s an internal project implementing CyberArk technology as the link between Customer environments and our own. It’s stretching me technically and I get to work across a range of customers and ISPs. Throwing in some German occasionally is a bonus!
- The rotations enabled me to hit the ground running. With a strong understanding of how Computacenter operates internally and externally, I feel like I always know where to go whenever there’s something the project needs, which has proved invaluable.
- The highlight of the programme has been my time spent on Customer sites: whether it be Eversheds or Schroders, Tesco or TFL or even Sky or Heathrow, interacting with a range of customers has been a humbling experience as I begin to understand just what it is that Computacenter can deliver.
- My first project is at the Home Office. I am currently in a Data Manager role, so I handle data for over 60,000+ devices, which can be overwhelming sometimes but I have become a pro with excel and I find it fascinating that I know where each device is located.
- I really enjoyed the rotations, apart from increasing my network, I have come to appreciate how each department contributes to the success of delivery of a project.
- My highlight of the programme so far was spending time with the International Projects Team in Barcelona. It was interesting to see the presence we have globally and the world wide opportunities that there are.
- During rotations as part of the Projects Graduate scheme, I was fortunate enough to get an insight into the operational side of the business, including our service offerings and what really sets CC apart from competitors.
- As a result of this time spent in a multitude of areas within the business, it also enabled me to build a network, whom have already demonstrated their willingness to provide guidance and support during my move to the Sales Associate scheme at the beginning of this year.
The next blog post will come from the 2018 Project Management Graduates in August. Most of us have met some of the prospective candidates over the last couple of weeks. I’m sure they will be a great intake to bring more fresh ideas to Computacenter (although I’m also sure their blogs won’t be quite as good). Thanks to everyone we’ve met along our journeys so far for all of your help and support. And thank you for reading this slightly extended blog post. Now it’s time for us to create value for our projects and Computacenter as a whole. See you all around!
2017 Projects Practice Graduates
It has become an intellectual tug of war to determine which is more important in the “connected” or “digital age” – networks or applications. Silly argument I hear you say, it’s obviously the …… not easy to answer. In the pre-connected world (if it really did exist), personal computing was as personal as possible, with no connectivity to / with anyone else. Local application, local storage, local processing and a local user made the need for a network superfluous. Fast forward to the present day with distributed processing, “the Internet”, streaming, “always on”, cloud based interaction and a socio digital culture with collaboration and engagement at its core. Without a network, the media rich, highly collaborative now fundamental “always present and connected” mode we embody at work or play is at best compromised and at worst eliminated.
We cannot envisage a world where the network doesn’t work, whether mobile carrier based entities or the home Wi-Fi, if you can’t connect you won’t connect. I spend most days in positive disruption mode challenging colleagues and customers to rethink the traditional approach to enterprise networking with the onus on automation to unlock agility and consolidation to drive simplification. The enterprise networks that underpin today’s digital reality are a wonderful amalgam of technology, people, process plus twenty years’ experience of “getting things to work”. But more is required by the network than a functional existence, as the carrier of our “Digital DNA” an optimised, flexible, agile network holds to the key to many of our future successes. It’s time to be “bold” – to embark on the network evolution required enterprises must dare to dream and envision the secure transport layer required for enhance current user interaction and energise future business outcomes. And when the dream presents the storyboard of how things should or must be, “make it so”.
Technical feature wars labouring the technology based rationale for network modification will be fruitless with a dead heat between vendors the likely end result. Only a user experience driven or business change inspired network transformation agenda will contain the intellectual and emotional energy required to overcome the cultural tides ahead. Wait and see changes and nothing, the time for change is now. With the right network, with tomorrow’s network today a potentially business limiting factor becomes business enabling. And not forgetting, if you get stuck – drop me a line.
“If you can’t connect you won’t connect”
Until next time.
Chief Technologist Computacenter UK – Networking and Security.
If like me you like to travel, one of the things that makes visiting other places so interesting is experiencing the culture and customs of the country or area that you visit. Seeing how the culture shapes the food, drink, ambience, way of living, work and human interactions add richly to the experience you have. Many times when I’m on holiday or travelling, I see people who limit their enjoyment as they don’t want to experience or embrace that difference of culture, which can even lead to confrontation or misunderstandings.
One of the reoccurring discussions I have with customers is how investing in what they believe to be the right technology does not always result in the outcome that they expect. In general people’s expectation of technology is that it just works, which for the most part it does. I have been in to see customers where I absolutely agree that the technology is the correct choice for their business, however a number of factors mean that users do not adopt or use the technology. This reiterates the point that digital transformation of the workplace or business is far more than simply selecting and deploying a solution or the latest technology.
Culture in the workplace
One of the most overlooked aspects of the workplace is the culture that is built both within teams and across geographic regions. The workplace now has more generations working within it than ever before, but labelling people and culture by age or geography simply doesn’t work. Most businesses will have people of all ages and backgrounds working for and with them, culture builds the bond that enables and shapes team interaction and output. Consumerisation of IT also drives and shapes this culture organically within the workplace. An overriding effect on the culture is that of the leadership and management of these teams and this has the potential to have a detrimental impact on any transformation in the business.
One customer that I worked with had created a vision of remote working for the majority of the business, providing remote access tools and virtual desktops to facilitate a “work from anywhere culture” however, my engagement with the business lead me to ascertain that only about 20% of people were using the solution to work remotely. the business asked me “Why?”
Computacenter run an advisory service called Workstyle Analysis which involves interviewing users to understand what they do, how they work and the challenges that they face doing their role. We can also back this up with analytics to provide qualitative and quantitative feedback to help build a picture of the workplace. In this particular instance, it was found that the technology worked and provided the functionality that people required. However, some people crave the social bond that physically working in a team and with people creates, additionally their managers expected to see them at their desks and would make disparaging remarks when people decided to work from home or remotely. In addition, some of the tools provided for collaboration and communication were not adopted, as the culture that some of the users had grown into or accepted was that people needed to be together, face to face to “get things done”.
Now whilst some of the culture was driven by people’s background and life experience, the overriding one was that of their managers. If someone wanted to embrace the new culture or experiment with new ways of working, much like those who refuse to allow cultural experience to enhance who, what and how they see things; those managers were causing conflict and tension – and stopping meaningful change within the business.
This is not an uncommon problem that I see when engaging with customers, so in order for digital transformation to work, senior stakeholders in the business need to ensure that the culture of the workplace is a key factor that is taken into account as much as the technology solutions to ensure better success and the expected business outcomes.
Shaping the future
Culture is also important in the workplace for the following reasons:
- The culture reflects on the ability of the company to realise its promises and commitments. If the company stated core values are not reflected in the culture of the business, the seriousness of stated promises can be devalued
- The company culture shapes how potential and current employees view the company. People want to feel part of the culture at work, so it is vital to build or shape a culture that attracts talent and retains those already there
Of course there are times when culture needs to be adapted or shaped to help drive modernisation or digital change, but understanding the culture first is a vital component to helping drive meaningful and productive change.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of a difference of culture within the business, ask yourself, can I be more accepting and understanding of the nuances of culture within the workplace; if you are the one driving the change, ask yourself, do I truly understand the workplace culture and what that means to those who embrace it, so that I can help effect business change for the better.