BSc in Information Systems.
Kevin is a recent Information Systems graduate, working as part of the BT Global Services Graduate Scheme. His degree enabled him to hit the ground running with BT Global Services and the electives he took in Informatics helped give him a real insight into the uses of technology.
What is your name and current occupation?
Professional Services Graduate at BT Global Services.
What did you study at Leeds?
BSc in Information Systems.
Describe your role
I joined BT on the BT Global Services Graduate Scheme in September 2008. It operates on a 6-month rotational basis over 2 years and allows graduates to drive their own development and get an insight into different areas of the business through a variety of challenging roles that are of interest to them.
Following my first 6-month placement working in Media & Broadcasting over in the prestigious BT Tower, I am currently working with the NHS as a Service Delivery Project Manager on the recently won NHS Southern LSP contract. Within this role, I have maintained sole responsibility for the simultaneous delivery of a number of ‘environments’ (the term environment being used to describe the key infrastructure underpinning end user-systems), ensuring they undergo the complete development lifecycle to schedule and budget, before being handed over for use by NHS Mental, Community and Child Health Trusts. It’s a fantastic challenge in a large and complex project and a great way to get your hands dirty and gain some valuable project management experience.
BT Global Services puts real emphasis on ensuring that Graduates are developed to their full potential; ensuring they are given ‘real’ managerial roles in high profile projects with the opportunity to work alongside our corporate customers and see the difference they’re making. My next stop is a role within Corporate Sales working as an Account Manager across some key clients; ITV, BSkyB and the Pearson Publishing Group.
What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?
I always fancied working within the IT and Professional Services arena, and I believe that the combination of modules taught within the Information Systems degree programme provided a fantastic grounding ahead of starting with an organisation such as BT Global Services. My choice to pursue this subject really was a key decision in driving my future career.
As a result of the crossover between the School of Computing and Leeds University Business School, students were able to develop their business acumen and understanding of corporate principles, whilst fully immersing themselves in the science of computing; learning the underpinning principles of how technology works and how it can be applied within a corporate and commercial setting.
In addition to studying my core syllabus, I made the choice to study some optional electives within the Yorkshire Centre for Health Informatics (YCHI) which focussed on understanding how technology is becoming a crucial part of health sciences. This was an area in which I had a genuine interest and provided an opportunity to learn about a current and high profile application of informatics. I took this one step further to undertake a Final Year Project based within a healthcare setting and supported by YCHI.
In addition to studying the academic aspects of my degree – I think the inclusion of modules supporting professional development and skills are equally important. The School of Computing was great at ensuring students were challenged in this area by encouraging group-working, presenting and public speaking to support day-to-day study and these are key skills that employers value.
How the research content and practical experience came together
Studying for a degree has strong parallels to starting your career. When starting a new job, employers expect you to drive your own development and a great deal of research is required before being able to practically complete a defined role to a high standard; reading up on the subject matter, talking to colleagues to get their input and investigating how a job is currently done or was done in the past. This is the same when studying.
During my degree, there was a great balance of research content teaching and practical application and I believe this is important in learning. Lecturers delivered the content and then facilitated practical application to ensure their messages were clear and understood - whether this was through working on a given task or simply by allowing students to challenge what had been said through open discussion.
A great example of these two aspects coming together is through the completion of a Final Year Project. A somewhat daunting task – it allowed you to research an area of interest and then apply this practically in the producing a defined output. This was done iteratively throughout the project encouraging constant research and thought to drive the implementation.
What skills and attributes did you develop as part of your course?
You don’t realise it at the time, but the skills and attributes you learn at university are endless. From the minute you arrive on your course introductory day until the day of graduation, you are constantly developing as individual as you interact with others and heighten your learning.
For me, the key skills that my course facilitated were:
- Effective presenting and public speaking
- Group-working (especially when dealing with different group dynamics!)
- Time and Project Management
These skills weren’t necessarily always taught directly, but by tutors and lecturers putting you into particular situations – it soon eases and develops these attribute to a great extent.
What advice would you have for students studying today?
Submerse yourself in the whole university experience! In addition to studying hard and obtaining a good degree from a great university it is also important that you develop yourself as a person. Having been through the graduate recruitment process – I can safely say that employers really value you as a person.
Graduate recruiters receive thousands of applications every year all many of which will all feature the same degree result. What makes the difference is you; what work experience you have, how you interact with others, what you like to do in your spare time, what groups/societies/teams you are part of, what your opinion is on current affairs and whether you are prepared to challenge or just accept. University life is a perfect opportunity to define you as an individual and develop these areas and it’s important to take advantage of this!