A day in the life of our ICT Support Officer, Graham Pointon
So tell us your name, your job title and a little bit about your career to date
I’m Graham, I’m a Senior ICT Infrastructure Support Officer at First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO).
I was born in Saddleworth and went to Saddleworth School. I liked school but I wasn’t great at it; I like to think I was a bit of a late bloomer!
When I left school I joined the world of painting and decorating with my step-dad and the funny thing is, I actually did my school work experience at FCHO’s old Copster Hill depot where I spent two weeks painting garage doors in Delph!
Painting and decorating wasn’t really for me, so I ended up going to work in factories doing pallet making and then warehouses such as JD Williams and Littlewoods. I never really had an interest in IT at all, until I bought my very own second hand PC when I was 22 years old. It kept breaking so every time I’d take it to get fixed, I’d constantly be asking questions until eventually, I had enough knowledge to have a go at fixing it myself. This is where my interest in IT really bloomed.
After I’d been working in warehouses for about ten years, I was made redundant in 2008 and started volunteering with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) doing IT support. While I was there, somebody mentioned that FCHO was taking on volunteers. I a customer of FCHO which meant I was eligible to apply, and I successfully passed a volunteering interview in July 2013 which involved helping customers to fill out application forms and bid for properties using computers available to them in our offices.
While in this role, I noticed a housing apprenticeship with FCHO was being advertised which I went for, and in my interview I leaned on my IT skills. Three days later, the HR department called me to say they wanted to offer me a specific IT apprenticeship, which was wonderful. I started in the role on 1 November 2013 and I’ve been here ever since.
What is your role all about? Talk us through a typical day…
In my role I am responsible for implementing, managing and maintaining the ICT infrastructure. What’s this? I hear you say… This means that I help to look after FCHO’s networks, servers, desktops, laptops, telephony and mobiles.
Colleagues raise IT tickets through a system called House on the Hill (HoTH) which then get allocated to different members of the team. This week for example, I am on the early shift so I start at 7.30am. My first task is to check the monitoring board to make sure nothing’s gone down over night. Then I’ll perform some checks such as: making sure phones and emails are working, making sure our Northgate system is working and basically, anything else that a colleague might need to perform their role.
If something isn’t working as it should, we then have to fix it. Sometimes we aren’t able to do so and it needs escalating to an external party. After this, we work on HoTH dealing with all incidents and requests that have come in from colleagues. I’ll use two examples to show the difference between an incident and request:
- If someone reports that their emails aren’t working, this would be logged as an incident
- If someone needs access to a folder that they don’t have permissions to view, that would be a request
We also have our own projects that we are working on and are responsible for general IT maintenance such as carrying out Windows updates on all our computers.
Favourite thing about the job?
I’d have to say the challenging aspect of the role. Whenever an issue arises, it’s down to us to out what the problem is. From time to time we come across incidents that we’ve never encountered before, so when this happens, we really need to engage our brains to understand what’s gone wrong and come up with a resolution. IT changes all the time and technology evolves constantly, so it’s a non-stop learning process.
Would you recommend the Directions team to others?
100%. The Directions team changed my life completely! I was working in jobs that weren’t really going anywhere but now I am in the career I’ve wanted to be in since I bought my first PC all those years ago. This wouldn’t have been possible without their support.
When I first joined, it was a two-year apprenticeship role but I only did a year because a trainee ICT officer position came up, which I went for and was successful. The amount of support, expertise and patience that was available to me through the team was brilliant. I say patience, as I asked a lot of questions!
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
I’d probably still be picking and packing in a warehouse. Or maybe I’d be in a driving job - I like driving.
What do you enjoy doing when you clock off?
Well, I am married and I have got three children and one granddaughter aged six. I spend a lot of time with my family. My son and I will play video games together but my youngest daughter and I tend to watch films.
I am a Latics fan so I like going watching the game when I can, too. I try not to use computers that much when I am outside of work. As much as I love them, it’s nice to get a bit of time away from them!