A Day in the Life of a Tech: James Gray
James is a Senior Tech at ITbuilder. He’s been with the company almost 8 years and still loves jumping out of bed every morning to go help all the ITbuilder clients with their IT needs.
We sat down with James to find out more about what he does day-to-day, and also ask him about his penchant for lederhosen!
So James, what exactly does a Tech do?
Good question! Contrary to what many people think, we don’t live in caves, do coding all day long and live on pizza. Although it’s not that far from the truth J
So there’s two main types of ‘tech’ nowadays – there’s the coding side that’s been glamourised by the Silicon Valley types, and then there’s the hands-on stuff that goes into what we do at ITbuilder. And actually, it’s this stuff that makes the sexy coding possible, because without your servers, your infrastructure and your secure network access… none of the rest of it is even feasible.
If you’re just starting out in Tech, then you’ll usually work across a number of different clients, servicing their needs depending on what’s required. At ITbuilder, we have a ticketing system that allows us to jump on questions or issues really quickly, and also assign the ticket to the best-skilled person for the job. If you’re the Tech picking up the ticket, then you generally get straight on to the request and liaise directly with the client via either phone or email to help them.
If you’re a more Senior Tech (like me, who has been around a few years now!), then you’ll also get involved in more strategic projects like setting up new systems, migrating from one system to another, assessing and advising client infrastructures, all that sort of stuff. Although you still have to get your hands dirty too.
Sounds like fun! So what’s the most challenging part of your job?
As much as I don’t like saying this… it’s when a previous IT company haven’t done a great job or had a good relationship with the client. And it’s our job to not only come in and get everything working smoothly, but also rebuild that rapport and gain back trust.
Unpicking legacy set-ups is actually quite good fun – a bit like a puzzle and trying to work out how the person before you has set it up. But having to explain to the client why we need to start again from scratch or why it’s going to take 2 weeks just to unpick a bad set-up – well that’s the more challenging part.
That said, ITbuilder’s reputation has been built up over many years and is largely founded on client referrals – so most companies we work with already have an element of trust in what we’re doing because we’ve proven it to their mate down the pub already.
So stupid question maybe, but what’s the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s often a combination of tackling a particularly tricky bit of work that required a bit of ingenuity and a whole lot of googling, together with the satisfaction of pleasing the customer and making their work life that little bit easier.
But for me, it’s also about the team back at ITbuilder and seeing how they are developing their skills and progressing up the ranks. We’ve a really rewarding culture in the office – nothing goes unnoticed so if you work hard, it gets recognised. Some new starters can often struggle because there’s so much to learn… but if you’re that sort of ‘sponge’ that just laps it up, then it pays off in the end both professionally and personally.
What project are you most proud of since you started at ITbuilder all those years ago?
I’d say it’s got to be the relationship we’ve built up with Stanton House, one of our main clients. We started with them when the founders set the business up, now they have 4 offices around the country and one in Hong Kong.
It was just really satisfying to grow with them, and make sure that all their systems were scalable as they grew too. We do quite a bit of onsite working with Stanton House too, which really helps establish the relationship and for us to get to know their business. It’s a model we use across a few different clients actually – in fact, not only do we get to know their business, but we also get to see some weird and wonderful office set-ups too.
Really, do tell more…
Well, I wouldn’t want to kiss and tell. But it’s your usual stuff like dirty desks, messy phone set-ups. But then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum of course where some offices now have table tennis tables, hammocks, even swanky bar areas! As I said, you get to see it all.
So James, when you’re not ‘being a tech’, what do you like to do?
I have gotten into keeping fit and religiously do the office Pilates and Circuits classes. I like to get out to my local Park Run when I can, as well as up and down the towpaths of the Lea on my bike (weather permitting). But mostly, I like to spend time with my daughter at weekends or get down to London’s new cathedral of football: The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
And what’s the story behind the lederhosen!!?
This was from a trip to Oktoberfest a few years back. Some friends and I went and decided to go in full local dress. I actually wanted to hire a Dirndl (the traditional Bavarian outfit for females), but I couldn’t arrange one at short notice.