University and degree: Aston Business School, MBA
Work Title: Infrastructure Manager, Britain & Ireland, Middle East & Africa & Corporate Functions, Cadbury.
What it is you actually do? I deliver the IT infrastructure services to the companies based in the regions I look after. Examples are Data Centre Hosting, Telecommunications (data & voice networks), End User Services such as Desktop support, and IT Service Desk.
Why did you decide to stay in the West Midlands after graduation? While I finished my studies at Aston, I was actually working for Argos in Milton Keynes. However, I lived in Solihull, and was keen to look for a role closer to home. Cadbury’s were recruiting at the time, and I now travel 14 miles a day instead of 140 miles a day!
Why did you decide to go into this sector? I have worked in most sectors during my career (Energy, Pharmaceuticals, Financial Services, and Retail). I was attracted to Cadbury’s by both the fantastic brand name, and also the fact that it is a fast moving consumer goods firm, which is an area I had yet to work in.
What do you like most about you do? Every day is different. Change is constant. Since joining in June 2006, I have had at least 3 jobs, and am about to move onto a project secondment for 7 months! Cadbury is a very global company, so on any one day I might be working with colleagues from America, Africa, Australia, and Europe. Of course the chocolate also helps…..
Are there any downsides? Time zones. It’s always a challenge to find a time when you can get everyone onto a call if it involves both the US, UK and teams in Asia Pacific. Invariably it means one of us will be working either very early in the morning or late at night.
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you did? The ability to manage change. Most of what I do actually has less to do with technology and more about implementing change into our organisations. It just happens to be that most of what I do has a technical bias.
The ability to manage lots of competing priorities. Being able to set clear expectations about what can and can’t be delivered is critical.
The ability to create successful partnerships with 3rd party suppliers. I work with lots of vendors who we have outsourced services too, whether its HP for data centres, or BT Global Services for Networks, building credible relationships with the suppliers and aligning them to our goals is critical.
What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to come into this sector? Come in with an open mind. FMCG companies move very very quickly, so be prepared to handle change in all its forms.