What inspired you to join IT Services?
Having studied at Oxford University as an undergraduate, I knew that working here would be equally challenging and rewarding. IT Services has to juggle technical innovations with the evolving needs of a federated institution, often with many different stakeholders, which can be challenging.
My prior experience had mostly focused on commercial products, and the fact that IT Services undertakes a lot of project-based work also appealed: I liked the idea of varied work and the need to quickly become a subject matter expert.
What was your journey to the position you now hold?
After completing an MPhys Physics at Lincoln College, Oxford, I ended up working in Software Testing purely by chance. I spent a few years working for a few different commercial companies on a range of systems from financial reporting tools, virtual learning environments, e-commerce websites (including Pizza Hut) to mobile booking applications. In 2015 I joined IT Services as a Senior Test Analyst in the Testing Team.
Since joining I’ve been involved in a range of projects from the Dynamics Case Management solution, to SQL Server upgrades for our alumni relationship software DARS, to organising usability testing as part of the eExpenses tender evaluation and testing annual UCAS updates, to our admissions decision software. I’ve done everything from functional, to integration, through to accessibility testing and even created and delivered a one-day training course on testing for business analysts, project managers and systems support staff.
Alongside my Senior Test Analyst role I’ve also been able to participate in other initiatives such as the UI/UX Working Group and Agile Working Sub-Groups. In particular, I have been an advocate for digital accessibility in the delivery of projects, as I have a blind spot in my visual field as a result of having a haemorrhagic stroke in my late 20s.
In Summer 2022, I founded the IT Services Accessibility Champions Network (SSO required) which aims to establish a community for accessibility collaboration, increase staff confidence in accessibility practices and create a culture in which inclusive design is second nature. Following on from that I have been invited to represent IT Services at the University-wide Disability Advisory Group in Autumn 2022.
What do you enjoy about working here?
The opportunity to get involved in such a huge range of projects using different technologies and with a huge range of timescales and budgets; I’ve been involved in large scale projects lasting over a year and others that have had to be delivered in weeks.
One of my favourite projects was the rapidly developed Interview Scheduling tool created to handle online admissions interviews in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. The stakes were high; we needed to deliver over 22,000 Teams invites to undergraduate applicants all over the world within a couple of weeks. Whilst I always take a risk-based approach to testing, the lack of time made this even more challenging! The fact the tool was deemed a success and the Undergraduate Admissions Office have now made this a permanent application was incredibly satisfying.
The people here at IT Services also make this an incredibly rewarding and satisfying place to work. The Testing Team in particular has such a depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise and I’m still learning from my peers who are always willing to share their expertise. I think it’s a great testament that so many of our team have been a constant force for so many years (and in some cases since the Testing Team’s inception) that it clearly shows that IT Services is a great place to work.
What advice would you give someone thinking about applying to work at the University?
The work in IT Services is hugely varied and although at times there are understandably challenges in getting a 1000-year-old academic institution to embrace change, there is also great satisfaction to be felt in helping it adopt innovation.
IT Services itself is such a friendly and encouraging place to work and has so much to offer in terms of opportunities, even with possibilities of outside secondments; I’ve seen colleagues evolve and progress on different career paths in the time that I’ve been here.
I also believe that IT Services allows you to get as much as you want from your role and career; I’ve always felt that I have had support from my direct manager and the Senior Management Team when proposing new initiatives or trying to drive strategic change, and I’m not sure that has been true everywhere I’ve worked.