Nick works in Novoso’s Technical Services team and is based in Belfast. Outside of work he’s a bit of a Whisky aficionado and is a particular fan of those from the Island of Islay in Scotland.
Question: So, Nick, what do you do at Novosco?
Nick: I'm a Technical Services Engineer on the Service Desk. Our main function is to provide support directly to our customers. We do everything from providing high level support directly to a business' own engineers to day-to-day assistance to end users.
Q: So you’re one of the expert troubleshooters for our customers’ technical problems?
Nick: Yeah, I tend to deal with a lot of Windows, Citrix, and firewall type issues. There's a lot of varied skillsets needed on the Novosco service desk.
Q: Is that the role you’ve always had with Novosco?
Nick: It is. I've been with Novosco for 6 years now. About a year of that has been spent out on site for a few different companies providing direct onsite support.
Q: So you become their de-facto IT expert?
Nick: In these cases it was all support. Either we managed their infrastructure as part of an agreement or I was in covering for a gap in their own capabilities. Either way I'd become the go-to for all their IT needs.
Q: What was your career route to Novosco?
Nick: I started as a level one engineer. My previous role had been desktop support and low-level server support. Very little virtualisation. I moved to Novosco because virtualisation was something I wanted to pursue and learn more about. I've found I quite enjoy working with Citrix so I've pursued that more and more.
Q: What brought you on the IT career path?
Nick: I didn't go to university. I generally struggled with the typical education format, because I learn much better practically. I basically started fixing computers in school because nobody else would fix them. I did a bit of work with charities helping set up small networks. When I was 17 I got a job with BT doing low-level IT support for business customers and advanced from there. I eventually moved into training as they needed to fill a role in the training team, but I moved back into support after a few years as I felt I had a lot more to learn.
From there I spent almost a year in the House of Parliament as a junior engineer providing support directly to MP’s and Lords, which was pretty interesting.
Q: So a true ‘self-starter’ then, if you’ll pardon the cliché?
Nick: Ha! That's a good way to describe it.
Q: I’m sure you are constantly working to stay on top of the latest developments, updates, and innovations in technology, is that a big challenge?
Nick: It's definitely interesting. It's felt like the pace of updates has increased in the last few years as everyone has become more and more security conscious. It can be a bit of a balancing act sometimes juggling older hardware, software and customer requirements whilst trying to ensure they're not vulnerable to modern threats.
Q: Do events like WannaCry, and Spectre/Meltdown create more inbound support calls for you then? As people discover these problems on their computer that they see on the news?
Nick: Generally they do. There are some organisations that struggle with crypto attacks, often as a result of lack of investment in their own security, but those who have invested in security and user education had it a lot easier than many.
Spectre and meltdown didn't seem to generate too much in the way of support requirement for our customers from my perspective. It was mostly pro-active patching work and ensuring anti-viruses were doing exactly what they should be doing.
Q: What about training and accreditation, is that a continuous process?
Nick: Accreditation is important, especially for Citrix. I’ve been on training courses for VMware, I’ve accreditation with Citrix, and I’ve plenty of access to online learning. Novosco actively encourages us to continue learning and invests in any of the training requirement we have or would like to pursue. My Novosco colleagues are a big help too, I learn a lot by exposure and by using the technology on a regular basis. Plenty of people at all levels within Novosco are more than happy to take time out of their day to give a hand and explain things.
Q: What advice would you have for people looking to get into this industry? For people wanting to do what you do?
Nick: Don't be afraid to get stuck in. Build your own environments, break them, repair them and get out there and expose yourself to as many different technologies as you can. There's no replacement for experience and hours put in, and just don't stop doing that. IT is constantly changing and evolving. You must be willing to embrace the change and keep learning.