Case study

IT manager — Ben Roeves

Working in a university science park means Ben gets to work alongside some amazing projects which he wouldn't see anywhere else...

How did you get your job?

I was a placement student at the University of Oxford Begbroke Science Park during my BSc in Computer Science: Cyber Security placement year.

In my final year at the University of Staffordshire I learned that my boss at Begbroke was emigrating at the end of my graduating year, and when advertised, I decided to apply for his position. After graduation I provided cover for a month between their 2011/12 and 2012/13 placement students, during which time the interviews for the post of IT Manager were held, and I was successful in my application.

Make the most of your industrial placement, network as much as possible, keep in touch with the people you worked with

Is your degree relevant to your job?

Apart from some of the programming modules, almost all of it has been very useful so far in the position.

I support 30 commercial tenants with varied requirements from a networking, administration and security standpoint; so a varied skill set has been invaluable in being able to provide solutions to their needs.

Describe a typical working day...

Due to the nature of the job there isn't really a 'typical day'. There are around 50 tenants on site, consisting of start-up science-based companies, research groups and departments on site, all of whom will come to my team at the drop of a hat, requiring design and implementation of new services, or changes to old.

One day could be network maintenance and upgrades, and the next database management or SCCM integration, and so on…

How's your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Due to the varied nature of the role and the very small team size - IT manager and assistant - the role develops how I choose it to.

I enjoy the freedom to set my own technical projects and goals, both short term and long term. As long as the services and infrastructure in place are functioning properly, it's been down to me to set projects to expand the sites' service portfolio, and increase my knowledge.

My next step, ambition wise, would be at some point to move into a larger organisation from an IT Team perspective, be it a larger department within the university, or into the private sector. This would allow me to improve a specific skill set as I'd be responsible for a smaller section of their computing operation, but with a far larger user base and complexity of setup.

I feel that this sort of move would put me in a better position when looking to move to managing a larger team, as I would better understand a lot of the processes undertaken by my staff.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

The biggest challenge technically is making sure that I maintain a working level of technical knowledge in such a wide range of computing areas. This can make branching out into a new technical area daunting at first, as I'm having to always approach this with a 'learning by doing' attitude.

But when projects come together having started in this way it makes them far more rewarding.

What are the best things about working in this sector?

Because the nature of Begbroke is to bring university researchers and businesses together, I get to work alongside some amazing projects which I wouldn't see elsewhere.

Because the job is so broad, due to the small team size, it's allowing me to evaluate areas in which I might like to specialise, when moving forward in my career.

Any advice for people wanting to get into this career?

Make the most of your industrial placement, network as much as possible during it, within and outside your workplace and keep in touch with the people you worked with.

Don't specialise too deeply during your degree, so that you then aren't stuck with a very niche skill when graduating, you might not like it so much when it's all you do every day.

Find out more

Gain an insight into Begbroke Science Park, University of Oxford.