Computing and IT - student stories
Joce Rakower-Butelet, Service Manager, Business Process Solutions Engineer
Why did you choose IT?
I had worked for 22 years in a support role within the City in corporate finance, producing reports and large documents. While I was working full time I decided to do some part-time teaching and the school wanted some educational evidence that I knew how to speak and write French (I am French and, of course, fluent). I asked at the OU about a Level 1 French course and ended up taking the exams for French up to Level 3 straight away. This spurred me on and I started studying maths and IT courses just because I was interested in them. I never expected to get an upper second degree but after four years I was there!
What is your current post?
After this, I was one of three people who made up a new team that now, another 18 months down the line, has 17 people in it. I am the Service Manager, which means I manage the team, sort out problems and identify functional specifications for others to write technical code, attend meetings, visit customers and evaluate their needs. Our team develops software solutions for any activity that is done repetitively.
I don't have a desk as I work in whichever office I happen to be in or at home. My working day tends to be from 8am to 1pm then 5pm to 8pm.
What are the best and worst aspects?
Best: seeing a new system for a client work. A recent example is where staff now get a lunch hour, where previously they had no real break and had to work late.
I enjoy the humour of working here. I work with some very bright people in a culture where you are encouraged to voice your opinion. I seldom have a bad day. Seeing the Christmas tree lights blowing up was also a high!
Worst: the growing pains of the company when there were mergers followed by redundancies. People's egos are the root of most problems.
What skills do you use in your job?
Technical skills in software design; I need to understand this to get others to write the code. Project management skills are also necessary because a lot of IT work is around projects. The main skill I use is advanced negotiation techniques, which I use all the time. Learning to manage people takes time - IT people tend to be fairly independently minded. The ability to fit in also helps a lot.
What advice would you give to someone considering your area of IT?
Have fun – do the research and go for what interests you.
Develop your management skills – you'll go far if you can manage well.
How has your OU study helped you prepare?
It opened my mind – I was running along a well-defined groove. The OU maths courses in particular taught me to think. Towards the end of my degree I started having a dream that I could have what I wanted, and joining a company as a graduate in my 40s gave me loads of self confidence.
I also made some brilliant friends and am still in touch with them now.