ANS operates around the clock to ensure all our customers can too. We provide technology that never stops which means we don’t either. We work with some of the UK’s leading hospitals and emergency services – if a critical application or service is unavailable it could be life threatening to patients and people in need. That’s why at ANS our service desk is on hand to identify and resolve any problems. I sat down with one of our academy graduates, Oliver Houghton, who is now a Senior 2nd Line Analyst and Shift Leader, to talk about why he decided to join ANS, his journey to where he is now and why he loves working on the 24/7 shift so much.
So, how long have you been working at ANS, Oliver?
I have been at ANS for nearly five years now, four of those on the 24/7 shift. I joined in 2013, straight from college, at the beginning of what would become the amazing ANS Academy. In October 2014 I graduated from the Academy and in 2016 I was promoted to Senior 2nd Line Analyst and Shift Leader.
You must have been part of the first intake at the Academy, what have you noticed as you have watched it grow and evolve?
Yep, I was one of the first bunch to start the Academy back when the courses lasted just one year. I gained a BTEC Level 3 in IT qualification. Now the courses last three years and you can gain a much wider scope of qualifications. I tell you what, 5 years has flown by! All our employees used to fit in one wing of the building, now we fill two (soon to be 4!)! The company has expanded so rapidly, I’m looking forward to the years to come.
What was it like going straight from college into the world of working?
I have to say that I did find it challenging at first. You have to transition from your college mindset which is mainly learning-focused, into a new mindset, which still involves a lot of learning but you get to put it all into practice. Although it was difficult at first, my team leaders saw potential and kept pushing me forward until I found my feet, improving every step of the way. I was really starting to build my IT knowledge as I learnt the fundamentals of NetApp, VMware, Cisco and cloud computing such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
In the last couple of years, we’ve undergone the biggest operational shift in our history and have refocussed on public cloud and advanced services like IoT, big data and app development. How have you found the shift in technology? Have you had to retrain?
This wasn’t a problem for me as I thrive in a challenging environment, plus when you work in the technology industry, you have to expect frequent changes. We have to continually evolve to stay one step ahead and a new challenge is always welcome from me! I’ve found the shift in technology amazing, it’s taken over so quickly (replacing physical kits and migrating to the cloud), it amazes me every day with how far technology has come.
What are the most challenging parts of working the 24/7 shift? And what are the parts you love the most?
The most challenging part is managing a Priority 1 incident or major incident for a customer, for example, when a critical application is down. It is down to our shift team to find a solution. When a speedy resolution can’t be found, we escalate to our 3rd Line specialists or vendor/carrier. It can be difficult at times but we always pull through as a team! You learn so much in situations like that and it’s great to put our cloud knowledge to the test – we are truly committed to helping our customers.
You’ve progressed really well at ANS, how do you find being a Shift Leader?
I really enjoy it, after starting as an apprentice and progressing to a position where I support the team, I’m so happy with my career development. I currently support all team members on my shift to ensure that all runs smoothly as well as taking handover from the previous shift leader and handing over to the next. When I moved into this role, I took on more responsibility for any challenges that come our way. As a shift leader it’s up to me to ensure the night service runs smoothly and processes and runbooks are followed. Finding solutions to problems is what we do best at ANS. I think this role provided the next step I needed to advance my career within the company which has massively boosted my confidence.
How do you find working bank holidays on the 24/7 shift? Have you ever had to work on Christmas Day? I’m sure there are some funny stories about techies working over Christmas?
Bank holidays aren’t so bad, you get your time back in other ways so you don’t really miss out! My first year on shift I had to work Christmas Day and New Year’s Day which was a bit of a struggle but our manager came in on Christmas Day to give us all gifts! It definitely made working over Christmas worth it. It’s a fairly relaxed shift so we do still get to join in with some of the festivities! I’ve been asked a number of times “Do you want to come off shift?” and I always reply with “No way, I enjoy it too much!”. It’s a challenge that I love to take on, yes there are pressures but I can handle and manage those as they come.
Thank you for those really interesting insights. You’ve had an amazing journey so far, Oliver, here’s to many more years at ANS.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to join ANS like Oliver, you can browse our current vacancies here.