Simon White - Technology Architect / Presales Consultant - Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Issued: Thu, 06 Aug 2020 00:00:00 BST
Tell us a fun fact about yourself
I used to be a semi-professional trapeze artist
Tell us about your career journey so far
I ended up in IT by accident. I was a civil servant working in a Department of Employment, unemployment benefit office as a supervisor when the opportunity to take an ADP (automatic data processing) test came up. This really meant a free half-day out of the office so a colleague and I went along to take the test. I passed the test and the subsequent interview and before I knew it I was a programmer. Working in the civil service gave me lots of opportunity to learn about and see various technologies, things which have held me in good stead to this very day.
After the civil service I worked briefly as an IT manager for a publishing company before moving into the world of IT outsourcing with Capgemini followed by a TUPE transfer into ICL / Fujitsu. Redundancy from Fujitsu saw me move to Scotland and to my present company Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
What was your favourite subject in school and why?
Biology and Chemistry were my favourites. I wanted to be a doctor and these were two subjects I needed to realise that aim. Ultimately I wasn’t successful in that particular ambition but I still greatly enjoy the sciences.
What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?
When I started in IT, it seemed that all you needed was a logical and enquiring mind. Today I think Maths and Computing and IT are two subjects to seriously consider. I see graduates with degrees of all types – Business, Psychology, Geography etc. as well as the sciences. So, perhaps it’s still the case that all you need is a logical and enquiring mind.
What is a normal day in your role like?
I spend most of my time talking to people and designing computer systems for them. The latter bit sounds complicated but it’s not really. The hardest thing about my role is getting people to talk openly about the problems they are experiencing with their current IT environment and how that is impacting their future strategy and plans. Hewlett Packard Enterprise has solutions for pretty much every scenario but it’s crucial to understand where the customer sees themselves today. I work with public sector bodies who can be quite secretive, colleges and universities, schools and local authorities and private business. Each group has its own challenges and that can be difficult to unlock at times.
When it comes to designing computer systems, if I’ve done the hard work correctly (the speaking to people) this bit is relatively easy. We have tools which help us to create valid configurations that will actually do the job they are being made for. Every system I configure is custom built in a factory in Prague before being shipped to the customer’s datacentre location in the UK.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
IT never stands still. I learn something new nearly every day. The pace of change is breath-taking and the innovations I see in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence make for a really exciting future.
Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?
As you can see the hardest part of my job is interviewing people and establishing a rapport with them. An activity that could be carried out would be to pick a topic that is of interest (to them) and try to engage somebody (perhaps on a telephone call) in conversation with that topic.
If you're a STEM Ambassador in Scotland and want to share your story you can download the form here.