What I Actually Do All Day

My friend Jacqui, who came to visit me around this time last year recently emailed me asking what I’ve been up to. Last time I talked to her was April, and I had told her that I just started working at a “small telco in Liverpool”, and that’s about it. So she wanted to know what was new with my job, and the email I started writing in reply kept growing and growing as I tried to tell the story of what I am actually doing now.
So after all of that I though I would post that except from the email here for the rest of you out there who are wondering what on Earth I am doing all day at work. It doesn’t go into full details of everything, I was intending it as a summary of sorts, but it does the job. So without further ado:
“The job is great. Fantastic even. The contract we’ve currently got has meant that everything has scaled up tremendously and I was really lucky to get in just at the start of it all. Let me see, since I last talked to you I’ve got a promotion, totally changed my job role, got a pay rise AND got flown on the company dime back to Aus to get my visa sorted out and do some training on the side.
I am currently implementing the “Enterprise Project Management Solution” for the big government contract we have gotten. Basically UK ministry of defence have this project called the Defence Infrastructure Initiative (Future) and it’s worth about £4 billion pound over five years. The project involves upgrading all of the IT infrastructure of all the MOD bases in the UK. There are thousands of MOD sites in the UK, so it’s a BIG project. Anyway a group called the “Atlas Consortium” won the contract, and it is made up of companies like EDS, General Dynamics and Fujitsu. They in themselves are all really big companies. Compared to them we are small fry. We are a GD subcontractor. GD are responsible for organising all of the site surveys and designs for all the sites, so they send in guys to look at the current infrastructure, design new stuff, and ultimately re-fit all the bases. What the have contracted us to do is project manage all the guys they have on the ground, who are themselves sub-contractors.
So basically we have a whole lot of project managers who go out on MOD sites and oversee the work and make sure everything is on schedule and help iron out any problems they may have. They attend meetings and submit reports and track the project progress. This is currently done with a mixture of paper reporting and excel spreadsheets. What _I_ am doing is implementing an IT system (using Microsoft Project Server 2003) which will help to automate a lot of this process, providing an Enterprise Project Plan which is published and accessible over the internet and allow dynamic reporting on the project status.
This system didn’t exist 5 weeks ago. I hadn’t even head of Project Server 8 weeks ago. I was sent to back to Australia in July to get my visa, and do some certified Microsoft courses in Project Server (it turned out to be cheaper to do it at home with the exchange than it would have been to do it in London). I went back to Brisbane, spent three weeks there, two of them intensively studying this stuff, seeing my friends and family in when I could, before coming back to the UK and getting totally thrown into the thick to things. I’ve now been SC “Security Cleared”, which means I can now have access to restricted documents (which will be stored on our system, because some things, like even the location of some of these bases, is restricted) and I’m all trained up and have gotten stuck right in.
I’ve got a deadline for the 22nd of September to roll out this system to the Regional Project Managers and to GD. I’m on schedule, but it’s going to be tight. I’m working with 3 other guys on the project, but they are all responsible for setting up the infrastructure, the network and servers for my system to work on. I’m the only project specialist, so it’s pretty full on.
Ok, sorry to ramble for so long, but it’s pretty convoluted. I am really enjoying the work, though I’m doing 60 hour weeks at the moment. It’s very interesting. Both challenging and stimulating! Plus I am getting paid in pounds!! I had forgotten how cheap things are in Aus compared to the UK. Money wise I’m in a pretty good job, earning a decent wage, in the UK I live comfortably, can save a bit but still have fun. The bit I’m saving though, if I can save the same amount each year, will make me absolutely minted when I eventually come back home. I hated the exchange rate when I was living as s student and eating into my aussie savings. I’m loving it now I am earning pounds and building up British savings.”
So there is a brief overview for you. I don’t plan on doing this forever. There are good opportunities in this area at the moment, lots of jobs out there for Project Sever consultants, but I’m sure I’ll move onto other things. Maybe back into software development, maybe more towards systems integration. Right now the industry is in a really exciting place, there is a lot of cool technology out there, and I’m feeling like a sponge, soaking up information. I am learning a lot technically, but I am also learning a lot about business, about “how things really work”. I’m in a strange position because I am doing technical job, but am having to interface at the highest level of the company. I am getting the sort of exposure I didn’t think I’d get for years.
Oh yeah, and I’m getting a new kitchen in my flat too! It was water damaged while I was in Aus, so it’s getting totally refitted; new cooker, benches, cabinets, washing machine, the works.
It’s 10.15pm on a Saturday night, I’ve spent all day in the office working, and now im on the train down to Nottingham to visit my girlfriend. Writing all of this, thinking about all of this, has may be realise how fucking awesome I’ve got it at the moment. How lucky I am. I’ve got a wonderful girlfriend means the world to me. I love her. She loves me. I’m in a great place, got a great job. Things are fantastic!
I hope everyone else is as happy as I am.

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