Thinking about a career in Information and Communications Technology?

Before embarking on a career in ICT, I originally I studied Fashion Design at university, writes Scottish Canals Senior ICT Support Specialist, Angela Harrison-Dunnett, I was always best at the pattern cutting and construction side of things which involves a lot of troubleshooting and thinking outside the box, which I realised was a good transferable skill. After university I ran my own business for a year but I quickly realised I wanted a more stable income, so I got a job doing clothing and bridal alterations when I moved up to Glasgow. After a couple of poorly paid jobs, I eventually got an office job with better hours and more stability, whilst working in that office I was always helping my team with computer problems. They only had one IT guy and he was always swamped, I even volunteered to help him on his days off. I have always built and owned my own PC and consoles over the years, with computer games being one of my hobbies, so being in that office was when I realised I could maybe make a career out of IT. I was in my thirties at this point so it felt like a bit of a radical career change for me, but I knew it was meant to be, so I joined the Open University and started a part-time distance learning degree in IT alongside working. Eventually the IT guy left so I applied to take over from him and the rest is history really.

I joined Scottish Canals in 2015 when we originally brought IT support inhouse. Prior to this ICT support was outsourced, so I was one of the original inhouse team and started as first line ICT Specialist fielding phone calls and raising tickets, being the first point of contact. In 2018 Our second line Specialist left the business so I applied for the role so I could get more experience managing servers and doing more project work.

Since SC started hybrid working ICT have always made a point of having a brief morning meeting via Teams, this helps us to continue feeling like a team. Whilst it’s generally just an informal morning chat to make sure everyone is ok we do always discuss what folk are currently working on or if there is anything we as a team need to be aware of, or to see if anyone needs a hand with anything. This wee meeting really sets us all up for the day, and reminds us that we are all here supporting each other.

My role as a Senior ICT Specialist is mainly managing my own project workload, with projects often having hard deadlines such as software/hardware becoming end of life and out of service so we need to upgrade before that time. Sometimes projects are taken on as other teams request new equipment or services, or new sites with new networks being incorporated. The other parts of my job are more regular day to day network maintenance work, Server Administration, Security updates. I will also pick up support tickets from the first line specialists if they need to escalate or if it just happens to be a busier day than usual – this can be anything from first line not having the permissions to carry out a necessary task, or perhaps something new that first line has no experience of – in these cases I would often try to include first line to help give them experience and for future reference.

Scottish Canals employs wide range of staff with varied technical abilities and I pride myself on trying to make people feel comfortable, guaranteed if it’s happening to you it has happened to us at some point too. So never feel like you can’t approach us, we are always here to help, that’s the main part of the job. Assisting anyone who might need it, no matter how big or small you might think the issue is.

Angela Harrison-Dunnett, Senior ICT Support Specialist, Scottish Canals