This Sunday marks my 10 year anniversary as an employee at Jisc infoNet. Where does the time go? I started life as an assistant multimedia developer and remember the interview as if it was yesterday. I was quite low at the time because I was going through one or two personal issues. I struggled badly in an interview for BT, and having got through to the final stages at Nissan I froze in my presentation. Looking back this was a blessing in disguise because I really couldn’t be more grateful for the time I’ve had working for the service. I remember the interview and test as if it was yesterday, and in particular suggesting quite strongly the service should get rid of the “orange”. Back then Jisc was all about the “orange” but thankfully things have changed!
My first week involved a team planning meeting at Strathclyde, one of the team members was based close by to there at the time. Alan Cameron had just started the week before me and we got to know one another sitting at the end of the table wondering what the hell everyone was talking about. The acronyms overwhelmed us and before long we were both beginning to nod, nudging one another as our heads dropped. Probably not the best way for us to introduce ourselves to the team but they were probably impressed we stayed awake ;-)
But that’s the amazing thing about our team. Everything we’ve ever done has been approached with common sense. We see the funny side of things, understand people aren’t machines and offer support wherever we can which I feel has had a major impact on our productivity. It’s very rare we let things get to us, I think we’d have gone mad otherwise. An amazingly talented team helps too:
- Bernard Paton – I got engaged while staying at one of Bernard’s Gîtes. I proposed to my wife in French and remember asking Bernard to check my words, which I’d translated through some dodgy site, before doing so. I was meant to say, and thanks to Bernard did say, something like “the older we grow, the more and more I’ll love”. What I had down was more like “the fatter you grow, the more there is to love”.
- Gill Ferrell – one of the most gifted people I’ve ever known. The way in which she can digest unbelievably complex agendas and describe them in plain English is beyond belief. She is a real credit to the sector and like all the staff believes passionately in making things better.
- Patrick Bellis – the clarity Patrick brings to the team is something I’m in awe of. No matter what the topic is he is always able to pick out the most relevant piece of information. His vision and organisation has helped take the service from strength to strength, especially our relationship with other Jisc services. He’s one of the kindest people around too, always there for the team.
- Jacquie Kelly – I’m not sure she knows this but I’ve always thought of Jac as a motherly figure. She’s been amazing to me through my time at infoNet picking me up and dusting me down when needed. Jac, was it the Hawthorne effect?
- John Burke – the most charismatic, flamboyant joker around. I’ve yet to come across anyone who can strike up a conversation and make people feel at ease as well as what John can. He inspired my interest in project management when I attended one of his workshops.
- Alan Cameron – he’s not going to bust a gut!
- Steve Bailey – the rockstar of Records Management often found frequenting with Royalty. Just an absolute legend although I disagree with his love of The Archers haha
- Janette Hillicks – the nicest person in the world! I love Janette, I’m not usually a touchy feely person but after one or two drinks I love a good hug with wah’ HanetteHillocks. The odd dance move doesn’t go a miss either, always like a bit hoovering on the dance floor.
- Marianne Sheppard – awesome craic but more often than not I can’t remember our conversations as there’s often wine involved – when she’s not in Birmingham that is. Marianne is one of the most hardworking people you will meet, an all round star.
- Joanne Hyslop – Joanne wasn’t with us for vey long, I just remember her unbelievable love of the Smiths and cats! What’s not to like? Joanne was another of the team with an unbelievable way of simplifying complex issues, a real credit to the sector.
- Doug Belshaw – I’ve never known anyone move so fast! A true phenomenon, always pushing the boundaries and delivering. I loved working with Doug, he inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and I’m hoping to take that even further this year.
- Susan Heaford – my main memory of Susan is that we’re no longer allowed a toaster in the kitchen haha. Susan was such a lovely woman with a kind heart.
- Teresa Tocewicz – one of the only team members to make me cry at work, in a good way! Teresa’s love of data is a real benefit to the team and something I think many organisations will be in envy of going forward.
- Katherine Eade – Kath was the first person I ever met at infoNet. So down to earth and easy to talk to with an unbelievable eye for detail. I’ve missed her over the last year or so and glad she’s back after looking after her beautiful family.
- Gemma Elliott – I remember when Gemma first started she seemed to lack a bit of confidence. The transformation since then has been unbelievable. Gemma is a real star within the team with a real focus on getting things done and she’s always there for me when I need a whinge.
- David Cornforth – horizontal. One of the coolest, grumpiest, funny guys I know. I’ve worked with David since he started as a student placement. His progression has been phenomenal. The other great thing about David is his passion to bring the team together, often taking the lead in our social calendar.
- Owen Roberts – always helped me to see things in a different light, and smile about them. One of the things I admired most about Owen was his approach to risk. I’m quite cautious, Owen was fearless and not scared to fail which is rare. I also loved his snaps of smiling inanimate objects.
- Adam Hiles – his musical, literary and film knowledge is phenomenal and he always has something interesting to say. I love the way Adam can pick a joke out of anything too, cracking sense of human that’s very similar to some of my closest friends.
It’s not just the staff at infoNet though, it’s the staff I’ve worked with from other Jisc services and from across the sector as a whole. I’m very privileged and not a day goes by when I forget that. Even when I do become frustrated or down, I know I’m working for a service that cares, aiming to make education better across the whole of the UK (maybe even the world) and that’s what’s important to me.