Starting his career as a computer operator for United Biscuits in 1996 after graduating from the University of Bristol, Young's Seafood IT lead for Service Delivery and Operations Support Gary Allwood has over 15 years of experience in the industry.
In his current role at Young's, Allwood has been a driving force in creating the company's new in-house IT department. While still a work in progress, key success under Allwood includes creating and implementing a new Total User Management solution in less than three months, improving employee productivity across the board and saving the company millions in operating costs.
Eager to learn what makes the man behind this bold project tick, we put Allwood in the Hot Seat. This follows those of other key players in the tech industry, such as Lotus F1 CIO Graeme Hackland and St Andrews University CIO, Steve Watt.
V3: What's your favourite part of your current job?
Allwood: There is so much to enjoy at the moment – the pace and culture of the business and the amount of change within IT. But my favourite parts of my job are seeing how well the new IT team has embraced the challenge of bringing IT delivery in house and how quickly the team has been able to deliver real tangible improvements. We built a full in-house IT team and implemented a Total User Management solution in a short space of time – it's a good place to be at the moment.
What would be your dream job (apart from your current role, of course)?
I'd like to own a hotel somewhere warm with all the luxury features you can think of. It would all be managed by someone else of course, I'd just oversee the running and make use of the facilities. I would need to find a way of ensuring there was some element of IT involved in whatever I was doing though.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I have an iPhone 5, which gets a lot of use and on rare occasions I use my iPad.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
I admire Steve Jobs for what he achieved. I'm sure his leadership style was tough and he was difficult to work for but he certainly delivered. His passion for achieving excellence really strikes a chord with me.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
Right now, I would have to say the smartphone but the cloud is quickly taking over.
What was your first job?
When I was at university I had a part-time job working behind a bar. My first professional job was as a computer operator for United Biscuits.
What's your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?
The degree of, and the pace at which, technology changes means there is always something new and interesting on the horizon. You've got to stay up to date with technology, and you've got to keep your team up to date if you want to continue to improve.
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
3D is likely to become a factor in the next few years, in terms of printing and communication. Also, the ability to perform the same tasks on multiple devices, whether they are work or personal devices is becoming more common and more crucial and I expect there will be big developments in BYOD in the next few years.
What do you enjoy doing when you finish work?
My son has football training three nights a week, I normally go straight to his training sessions and enjoy watching him train. If it's not that then you can't beat a trip to the gym after a hard day at work.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
I'm a big fan of Stephen King, and Under the Dome was a good read.
Who is your favourite band/musician?
I like pretty much anything from the 1980s, but if I was pushed to name a favourite, it would have to be David Bowie.
Where's your favourite holiday destination?
My favourite place in the world is the Lake District.
Twitter, Facebook or Google+?
I've just made the move from Facebook to Twitter.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
I prefer The Beatles.
The Usual Suspects is my favourite, but Pulp Fiction comes a close second.
Windows or Mac OS?
No option for Unix? In that case it would be Windows.
On-premise or cloud?
It depends on what the best solution is for the service being delivered. Due to the nature of our infrastructure and our approach to delivery, on-premise is the most appropriate solution for the majority of our systems. We do consider cloud for everything we do and we have migrated to a cloud-based Office 365 solution.
What's holding back women from entering the IT profession?
There are a lot of reasons and I think the main one is that there is a certain stigma associated with working in IT. The image of IT is improving and the improvement needs to continue, starting in the classroom. I do think more women are entering the IT profession now but more needs to be done to improve this further, not only within IT but across all science disciplines.
How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?
The way IT is taught needs to be more relevant and more imaginative; it shouldn't focus on how to use IT systems but on how to build and develop IT systems. I think giving students the opportunity to see real-world IT rather than the theoretical classroom world of IT would also help garner more interest. Something we're looking into at the minute is finding a way to engage our local schools and colleges to help give students an insight into life working for Young's IT.
Did you always grow up wanting to work in IT?
I grew up wanting to be an RAF pilot but found out I was colour blind when I was ten. At that point, even though my exposure to computers was pretty much limited to writing programs on my Commodore 64, I knew I'd end up working in IT.
Which websites do you have bookmarked at work?
Currently I have BBC, LANDesk, LinkedIn and V3.
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