Interviews – Telecoms – Andy Leech

Andy Leech, 25, joined Vodafone AirTouch after graduating three and a half years ago. He works in IT as a systems developer. With existing systems needing to be modified and new systems being brought in to cope with new advances in technology Andy says IT makes for an exciting career choice

Getting in and getting on

What steps did you take to get the job you have now?
I did a BSc in mathematical statistics and operational research at Exeter University. The course had a high computing element, which is what led me into IT and telecoms. I liked emerging technologies and thought there was a lot of scope in mobile communications.

I took several courses at university on presentation and communication skills, which was useful for learning how to come over well at interview. I approached Vodafone via the milkround. I saw them as a good reputable company in a good part of the country.

I genned up on the company as much as I could and went to talk with them armed with as much ammunition as possible. I’d heard they had a good senior management team and discussed that with various people at the open day.

What was the selection process like?
In those days it comprised of presentations by various departments. There were no role playing or team building exercises back then. There was a psychometric test and an interview with a panel of three.

I was taken on as a graduate, one of three, though not part of the normal annual intake. I’ve learned on the job and been on several internal courses.

Day to day

What does your job involve?
The function of corporate and MIS (Management Information Systems) systems is to supply business knowledge to our internal customers including finance and marketing, engineering and telecoms and provide services to external service providers.

MIS also provides reporting data and management information on our subscriber base – people who use the Vodafone network. This gives the likes of the marketing department information to help them manage campaigns and lets the finance guys know how well we’re doing.

What is Vodafone like to work for?
They certainly look after you. You get 28 days paid annual leave. You get life insurance and a good pension scheme and share options. There is no expense spared with external training.

The culture varies between departments, but at MIS we’re all fairly close. The team is growing at an alarming rate, but I tend to work in quite focused teams. It’s a friendly atmosphere and everybody gets on.

There is a pay review every year and there is a certain minimum percentage that all employees will get, but there is also scale depending on how you perform in your job.

Where do you see your future?
At the moment I’m a systems developer 2. Beyond that there are two senior systems developer grades, followed by three principal systems developer grades, development manager and then systems manager and then executive and director, so it’s fairly well structured. You know exactly where you are at in the hierarchy.

It’s nice to know there is a lot of scope there. I’ve been here three years and there are still many rungs of the ladder for me to climb.

Getting a job at Vodafone

What advice would you give to graduates?
There is a big IT skills shortage. It is a national problem. The future has got to be computers and if you have skills in those areas then it’s certainly a good career to go for.

With any job it’s important to get a grasp on the technical side, on the coal face if you like, but there is certainly no shortage of opportunities for getting into technical and non-technical project management, business analysis and IT.

I’m involved with Vodafone’s graduate open days. This can often involve tours of the IT department describing to candidates exactly what each system does and what the main roles are. It can also involve casual briefings, just to get an idea what the candidates are like and also ‘washing up’ with human resources at the end, where I can perhaps influence them who would be right for the job based on their skills.

Will the new WAP technology and Third Generation (3G) mobile phones mean the need for more staff?
Yes. Existing systems need be modified and new systems need to be bought in to cope with the new advances in technology. Technology is becoming increasingly more sophisticated so the systems that manage the information have to be infinitely more complicated, which will require more and more staff.

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