Name: Sharon Moore
Degree and university: University of Glasgow, Software Engineering (1st Class BSc Hons)
Work title: IT Architect with IBM
What do you actually do? I work in the IT services & consulting business in IBM and I generally work with clients to architect solutions, in the area of systems integration in particular, which are flexible and can enable them to move towards a service oriented architecture. I usually focus on application and integration architecture and enjoy being creative and innovative whilst using existing assets, standards, and intellectual capital from proven solutions.
Were you always interested in IT as a career? Yes. Well, nearly. At school I thought I would be a ‘traditional’ Architect. However, I discovered computer-aided design (CAD) software during a work experience placement at the age of 14 and was fascinated that technology could make my job much easier, and give me more time to be creative – so I swiftly changed my plans! Since then, it has been my goal to be involved in making technology an enabler for business.
How did you find out about this particular job? In my final year at University went to a Careers Fair and spoke to IBM about working for them, and in particular their graduate programme which sounded exactly what I was looking for as a starting point to my career. In my first role for IBM I happened to work for a group of IT Architects and I quickly realised that the kind of work I aspired to do was exactly that of an IT Architect; it was all go from there. I’m fortunate that the career path for an ITA is well mapped out and I view several people in IBM as role models so would take their technical careers as inspiration for my own. In a way the role is a natural progression from my Software Engineering degree.
Would you undertake further study to progress your career? I would indeed. I would also do it just to grow as an individual and to gain new, useful skills, whether it was linked to a promotion or not, and assuming it could fit my work-life balance.
What do you most like about your job and are there any downsides? I’m not sure I can limit this to one thing. I like continually meeting new challenges; I’m glad to have found a role that allows me to stay technical as I move up the ladder without the need to move into more traditional business roles; I work with some fantastic people from whom I learn a great deal.
What job doesn’t have downsides? I usually work away from home which means I have to be good at planning and I do miss my home sometimes. But I get to experience new places without having to move, and to meet new people that otherwise I may not have. If I’m assigned somewhere that doesn’t appeal I know I get to go home for the weekends!
What skills do you need to succeed? The ability to adapt quickly is key for an IT Architect – you tend to know a little about everything and then know the right people to help with the detail. Strong communication skills are essential to get your message across, and a good dose of pragmatism is always helpful. Balancing work and life is also essential, despite the cliché it has become.
What advice would you give to graduates coming into this sector? Networks are everything. Get to know the people you work for and the people you work with. Understand how they can help you and how you can help them.
Is there anything you would like to add? Don’t be afraid to try new things; you never know what you might be good at and what you may enjoy. Staying technical doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a hard-core programmer for the rest of your days.