When did you join the University and why?
I joined Kent over 10 years ago as an undergraduate student and subsequently a PhD student in Computer Science. I have always lived in the Kent area and the university’s reputation in that subject was well regarded; so it was somewhat a no brainer for me at the time.
My PhD involved studying the physical and virtual spaces that Computer Science use to support their formal and informal learning. A by-product of this was I became heavily involved in the creation of “The Shed”, a makerspace for the school, and my career within technical services quickly started from there.
What did you get up to during that time?
Within that space I worked alongside some excellent students and technical colleagues who really pushed what was viewed as the ‘norm’ for student projects. We built projects ranging from Internet of Things sensor networks, autonomous drones, even an automated chicken coup!
During the Covid-19 pandemic I was fortunate to work alongside a number of technicians and professional service staff to help deliver the university’s response to deliver PPE for healthcare professionals. The coming together of staff across numerous disciplines to contribute their expert knowledge was great and really demonstrated our capability to deliver crucial materials at difficult times.
Following the university restructure I moved out of the Shed and into the position of IT and Technical Manager for CEMs. This was a new role within the division and gave me the opportunity to work across a number of different schools with a number of different types of technicians.
Just under two years later I moved out of CEMs entirely and have now taken up the new role as Head of Embedded IT and Technical Services within Information Services.
How has the role of Head of Technical Services evolved?
My new role is an evolution of the Head of Technical services; which came about following the University’s pledge to support the national Technician Commitment. Paul Sinnock, my predecessor in this post, worked hard to deliver a customer-focused, innovative and professional technical services teams and guided technical services across the university through their restructuring.
During Information Services’ restructure, the University saw the opportunity to develop a new section, Embedded IT, and migrated the Head of profession role for Technical Services. This new role within Information Services provides a greater level of support for the head of profession role which will greatly help drive forward the important, and much needed, work to recognise and support technical services staff across the University. It also builds upon the work to establish a career pathway for technicians, with now a more obvious ‘next step’ for the IT and Technical Manager role – the IT part of the role doesn’t ‘drop out’ anymore.
I believe this new section within Information Services and this natural evolution of the Head of Profession for Technical Services has the opportunity to deliver some really exciting change within the University.
What are your immediate plans for Technical Services?
Over the next 12 months, I will be working with colleagues to deliver the Technician Commitment action plan and road map. A key part of this for me is to help develop a more sustainable approach for technician’s supporting research platforms. This includes improving how we cost and maintain this equipment, support and develop the technical skills to deliver it, and how we can make better use of these platforms by improving its visibility and ability to be shared.
I also want to work on improving progression opportunities for technical services staff; to recognise the great work that they do and to establish new development & training routes to help ensure our long-term sustainability.
What are your interests away from work?
I love spending time at Wingham Wildlife park with my son to see all the animals. I also enjoy electrifying different vehicles and working on DIY projects around the house. Most Thursday’s I can also be found Dungeon Mastering (hosting) our Dungeons and Dragons campaign; which generally results in mayhem when my party decides to do something completely unplanned.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The secret to fixing almost all computer problems can be found here: https://xkcd.com/627/