My Journey

“An Introduction to My IT Path…”

By Andy Naisbitt

Inception Point: The Roots of My Digital World

Early experiences working on my first project, which consisted of Game & Web development really kick started my interest when I was around 11 Years Old. I like to think this early induction to IT (personal choice, not forced) inspired me to peruse an IT career.

Navigating Through Adversity

Resilience in the Face of Obstacles

In the dynamic world of IT, challenges are as constant as the northern wind across Hartlepool’s shores. My journey hasn’t been without its trials; it’s been punctuated with complex technical puzzles and the occasional stormy interaction with colleagues and users alike.

From Personal Trials to Professional Steadfastness

Life, much like technology, can present unexpected bugs. The lockdown era, a time when the world seemed to hit ‘pause,’ thrust me into a silent solo shift from the buzz of office camaraderie to the solitude of remote work. It was during this time that personal challenges mounted—a family facing the harsh realities of illness, with my mother’s courage against breast cancer and my grandfather’s decline into Alzheimer’s shadow, both leaving an indelible mark on my heart. As my personal rock and childhood hero, my grandfather’s absence left a void, no tech could fill.

Leaving my role at Filtronic PLC was a decision weighed with heavy heartbeats and a mindful nod to self-care. Yet, through this, I’ve navigated with a compass set to resilience, continually upskilling and maintaining a professional poise in the face of adversity, much like Hartlepool has stood resilient against the tides of time.

Brief Career Summary

A Snapshot of my IT Journey

Filtronic

  • Voluntary IT Support (Feb 2014 – Apr 2014): Gained hands-on experience in global help desk support and day-to-day IT tasks.
  • IT Apprentice (Jun 2015 – Jul 2017): Provided 1st/2nd line IT support, managed hardware maintenance, and assisted in company-wide migrations and security upgrades.
  • IT Support Analyst (Jul 2017 – Jul 2021): Managed global IT service desk, patch management, endpoint security, and technical documentation, retaining all responsibilities from my apprenticeship.

Durham University

  • Service Desk Technician (Contract) (Oct 2021 – Feb 2022): Enhanced skills in system administration, Microsoft products, service desk, and information security.

Pickerings Lifts

  • IT Systems Technician (July 2022 – Aug 2023): Focused on system and network administration, managing firewalls, IT service management, and more.

Current Role: PFF Packaging

  • Senior Systems Engineer (Aug 2023 – Current): Responsible for leading critical security and infrastructure projects. Successfully directed the migration to Bitdefender GravityZone, enhancing organizational cybersecurity. Currently overseeing the introduction of security features like LAPS, migrating to Microsoft 365 Defender from Mimecast, and setting up policies and configurations for Microsoft InTune. Actively contributing to the ERP cloud migration project and implementing general security hardening across systems to potentially achieve Cyber Essentials certification.

Detailed Carreer Journey

Filtronic is a designer and manufacturer of RF-to-mmWave components and subsystems for mission-critical communication networks.

Voluntary IT Support

Feb 2014 – Apr 2014 (3 months)

I shadowed and assisted existing team members working on a diverse range of projects. I learnt quickly and took a considered approached when i was faced with unknown areas. For the first time,
I got a hands on experience supporting tickets on a global help desk, as well as general day to day tasks.


IT Apprentice (hence the blog name!)

Jun 2015 – Jul 2017 (2 years, 1 month)

  • Providing general 1st /2nd line IT support to entire business (Onsite and Remote)
  • General, systems & hardware problem solving
  • General maintenance of desktops, laptops and printers
  • Support and administration of all Microsoft
  • Office 365 services: Exchange, SharePoint etc

Experience:

  • Assisted with Company-wide Migration to Windows 10
  • Assisted with Endpoint Security upgrade to latest version

Training:
NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT
Skills: System Administration, Microsoft Products, Service Desk, Information Security


IT Support Analyst

Jul 2017 – Jul 2021 · (4 years 1 months)

• Administration of global IT Service Desk – ManageEngine
• Patch management: Administration of Windows System Update Services
• Supporting the Endpoint Security solution on client-based systems (Bitdefender)
• Ensuing Software licensing compliance and maintaining records
• Supporting Virtual Infrastructure backups with Veeam Backup & Replication
• Technical documentation
• All of the responsibilities from Apprenticeship role included

Skills: System Administration, ITIL, VMware, Cybersecurity, IT Service Management, Microsoft Products, Network Security, Service Desk, Information Security, Software Installation, System Deployment, Security, Server Administration, PowerShell, Windows Server, Documentation


A well needed,

Three Month Break from all things IT-related!


A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other.

Service Desk Technician @ Durham Uni (Contract)

Oct 2021 – Feb 2022 (5 months)
During a five-month contract within Durham University’s Computing and Information Services (CIS), my role as a Service Desk Technician was integral to supporting the department’s operational objectives. Within a vibrant academic setting, I provided responsive and high-quality first-line support, contributing to the seamless daily IT operations that support the university’s teaching, research, and administrative activities.

Key Responsibilities:

  • First-Line Support: Served as the initial point of contact for IT support, managing inquiries via LiveChat, telephone, email, and direct interactions with a focus on swift resolution of queries and issues.
  • Incident Management: Efficiently diagnosed and resolved technical issues, ensuring a consistent level of service and minimizing disruption to users across the university.
  • Customer Service: Delivered customer-focused IT support to university staff, students, and visitors, emphasizing timely and professional assistance.

Additional Involvements:

  • Support for Infrastructure Projects: Aided in the transition period for various infrastructure improvements, such as network enhancements and storage solutions, by providing additional user support and feedback to the CIS team.
  • Flexible Working: Displayed adaptability by accommodating flexible work hours when required, maintaining the department’s standards for extended support during critical operational periods.

Professional Development:

  • Skill Enhancement: Although my tenure was brief, I sought to advance my technical knowledge and adapt to the department’s systems and procedures to effectively address the IT needs of the university community.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Contributed to a culture of teamwork within the CIS department, supporting ongoing projects and daily IT service delivery during my contractual period.

In this short-term role at Durham University, I maintained a balance between providing immediate IT support and adapting to a complex IT environment, ensuring a positive impact during my contract tenure. My efforts were directed towards upholding the university’s standard of IT excellence while also enriching my own professional experience.

Skills:
System Administration, Microsoft Products, Service Desk, Information Security, Software Installation, System Deployment


Established in 1854, Pickering’s specialize in the installation, maintenance, modernisation and repair of lifts, escalators, travellators, loading systems and mobility equipment. With 14 offices across the UK, we are the first choice for local and national projects.

IT Systems Technician @ Pickerings Lifts

July 2022 – Aug 2022 (1 yr 1 months)
At Pickerings Lifts, my tenure as an IT Systems Technician was characterized by a commitment to excellence and the establishment of a gold standard for IT support, a benchmark crafted from the wealth of experience I brought from previous roles.

Notable Achievements:

  • Exemplary IT Support: I set a new precedent for IT support services, refining response protocols and delivering solutions that consistently exceeded user expectations and established best practice benchmarks.
  • Cloud Migration Support: In collaboration with the IT manager and external consultants, I contributed to the virtualization and migration of our VMs to the Azure Cloud. While my role was primarily support-focused, I ensured that the transition did not interrupt the business workflow and that our systems were primed for enhanced cloud performance.

Post-Migration Troubleshooting:

Post-migration, I was one of three go-to problem solver(s), for troubleshooting and diagnosing recurring issues that arose from changes implemented by our third-party partners and IT manager. My responsibilities included:

  • Network Drives and Connectivity: Addressing frequent concerns with network drives and ensuring reliable access and connectivity for our team.
  • DNS Troubleshooting: Resolving complex DNS issues that affected our internal and external services, ensuring seamless network functionality.
  • Systems Diagnostics: Systematically diagnosing and resolving a variety of issues, maintaining system integrity and usability following our cloud migration initiatives.

My role at Pickerings Lifts was pivotal, not just in maintaining day-to-day IT operations, but also in providing the necessary support and troubleshooting expertise that facilitated our transition into a more modern, cloud-enabled business environment. My proactive approach and dedication to upholding the highest standards of service were instrumental in enhancing the company’s IT capabilities.

Skills: System Administration, Network Administration, Firewalls, VMware, IT Service Management, Microsoft Products, Network Security, Service Desk, Information Security, Software Installation, System Deployment, Security, Server Administration, PowerShell, Windows Server, Documentation


PFF Group excels in producing innovative rigid plastic food-grade packaging, with a strong commitment to sustainability. Awarded a significant contract in 2020 to supply disposable aprons to the UK’s NHS, PFF Group operates two distinct divisions—Packaging and Health—both contributing to the Made in Britain campaign. Faced with modern challenges, we continue to uphold service excellence and drive innovation through our award-winning Innovation Centre.

Senior Systems Engineer @ PFF Packaging

(August 2023 – Present)

As a Senior Systems Engineer at PFF Packaging, my role is pivotal in bolstering the company’s cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure. I have successfully led the migration to Bitdefender GravityZone, selecting it as our preferred security solution due to its comprehensive protection and management features.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Executed the company-wide transition to Bitdefender GravityZone, improving our threat management capabilities.
  • Actively involved in the preparation and execution of virtual machines migration to cloud infrastructure, ensuring a scalable and resilient environment.
  • Revitalized the IT Service Management framework to reinforce customer service excellence, restoring confidence and efficiency following transitions within the IT team.

Ongoing and Upcoming Projects:

  • Initiating the implementation of Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) for enhanced security.
  • Managing the transition from Mimecast to Microsoft 365 Defender, including policy setup and configuration for improved email security and compliance.
  • Configuring Microsoft InTune to streamline device and application management across the company.
  • Providing support for the ERP migration to a cloud-based system (EFACS by EXEL), collaborating with the Head of IT who is the project manager.
  • Conducting general security hardening of all systems, utilizing patch management tools, and leveraging threat management systems like Bitdefender GravityZone and Microsoft Defender (including Sentinel).
  • Strengthening the security posture of Active Directory and aligning our systems to meet the Cyber Essentials Standard for certification.

My commitment in this role is to ensure that PFF Packaging’s IT infrastructure is not only secure and compliant but also positioned for future growth and innovation. I continue to apply my expertise to drive projects that fortify our IT environment against emerging threats and adapt to the changing landscape of IT needs.


A Chronicle of My IT Journey

Embarking on my professional path post-education, I seized the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of IT with Filtronic in February 2014. As a voluntary IT support member, I was thrust into the core of IT operations, shadowing seasoned professionals and tackling an array of technical tasks. This foundational period honed my ability to quickly assimilate new knowledge and approach unfamiliar challenges with a measured mindset.

The apprenticeship that followed in June 2015 with Filtronic marked the beginning of a deep dive into the intricacies of IT support. Tasked with the responsibility for 1st and 2nd line support, I navigated the complexities of system and hardware malfunctions, routine maintenance, and the administration of Microsoft Office 365 services. It was during this era that I contributed to a pivotal migration to Windows 10 and fortified our security defenses with an advanced endpoint security system.

Advancing into an IT support analyst role in July 2017, I found myself at the helm of the global IT service desk, steering the ship of Windows System Update Services patch management and safeguarding our digital realm with Bitdefender. My commitment to our virtual infrastructure’s integrity was matched only by my dedication to meticulous technical documentation and an unwavering adherence to the knowledge I’d garnered during my apprenticeship.

With an NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT in hand, my expertise blossomed. I nurtured a skillset that spanned system administration, Microsoft products, and an array of security and service management tools. My tenure at Durham University as a service desk technician further sculpted my abilities in system deployment and information security.

As the wheel of time turned, I found my next chapter at Pickerings Lifts, where my role as an IT systems technician was not merely a job but a testament to my passion for IT. Here, I sustained the company’s technological heartbeat, ensuring the smooth operation of our IT systems.

Yet, the journey didn’t pause there. With ambition as my guide, I embraced a significant career elevation by joining PFF Packaging. This transition came with a gratifying pay rise and the esteemed title of Senior Systems Engineer, reflecting a leap not only in position but in the scope and scale of my responsibilities.

Beyond the confines of the conventional workday, my zeal for technology spills over into the development of applications—a venture pursued in the quiet hours. These projects are not just lines of code but a narrative of my dedication, soon to be unveiled to the world through my growing portfolio.

As I stand now, on the cusp of showcasing my personal projects, my journey in IT is far from its denouement. It is a saga of continuous growth, learning, and an unyielding pursuit of excellence in the ever-evolving digital landscape.


Continual Skill Development

In the realm of IT, stagnation is the antithesis of success. My approach to skill development is proactive and self-directed. I’ve capitalized on the wealth of free training resources available, routinely engaging with platforms such as Microsoft Learn to secure various certifications. LinkedIn Learning has also been instrumental, offering a plethora of courses that cater to both my current needs and future aspirations.

Beyond formal training, I’ve honed my skills through hands-on experimentation and tinkering. Whether it’s setting up servers at home or dabbling in the intricacies of hardware assembly, I believe that real-world application is the crucible in which true IT acumen is forged. This blend of formal learning and personal exploration ensures that my skills remain sharp and my practices innovative.

Staying Up-To-Date in IT

To stay abreast of the latest IT developments, I’ve tailored a digital environment that feeds my curiosity and keeps me informed. Feedly stands at the core of this setup, an invaluable tool that aggregates content from a myriad of IT blogs and news sites across various categories.

For cybersecurity insights, I frequent authoritative sources like The Hacker News (THN), which keeps me in tune with the latest threats and security trends. I also monitor the Gartner Magic Quadrant reports to evaluate the latest software and ITSM tools, ensuring that my knowledge is aligned with industry leaders and innovators. These resources, among others, are integral to my continuous learning and staying at the forefront of IT advancements.

Advice for those starting out in IT

For those embarking on an IT career, consider the path less trodden but rich in experience: an apprenticeship. While academic qualifications like degrees offer a foundation, the tactile wisdom gained from hands-on experience is unparalleled. Remember, it’s one thing to understand the theory behind computer science, but another to build a computer or troubleshoot a network.

Embrace a holistic view of IT—understand not only your specialty but also how it connects with the larger digital ecosystem. The IT landscape is vast and interconnected; proficiency in one area and awareness of others makes you a versatile and valuable asset. Dive into the practical side of technology; let curiosity guide you, and let every challenge be a step towards greater expertise.

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