Ask me your
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
I went to HFCS Secondary school in Rathcoole Co. Dublin. After my junior certificate I met with my career guidance counsellor to discuss what subjects I should take for my leaving certificate. This is when I decided to participate in Transition year.
Fourth year gave me a chance to discover different subjects e.g. computers, woodwork, home economics etc... then I could choose which subjects I preferred for LC (Leaving Certificate). Transition year helped me to develop my knowledge of what career path to take as you got to discover many different subjects instead of the set curriculum.
After transition year I started to look at different college courses that I would be interested in and chose my leaving certificate subjects around these courses. This meant that when I got my course in “Computer Systems Management and IT” in IT Carlow , I was comfortable with the subjects that we covered. This course also involved 6 months work placement so when I finished college I also had some relevant work experience. After completing the 6 months work placement I knew I had chosen the right career path for me.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My biggest influences would be my Parents. They sat down with me and studied the CAO form in great detail and always listened to what I thought and never pushed me into applying for any courses that I was not comfortable with.
My sisters also helped as they gave me their past experience on what they would do differently or the same if they were back in school or choosing college courses. Transition year and meeting with the career guidance counsellor in school also helped me choose what career path to take. She would ask what is my favourite school subjects and why I liked them and then suggest different jobs / careers from my answers.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I was browsing the Lidl website one day looking at the non-food specials and noticed a link for “Careers & About Lidl”, I clicked on the link and looked at the current jobs available.
Lidl was advertising a role for “IT Support Engineer”, I went through the requirements and experience required. The job was situated in an ideal location and sounded very interesting. I completed the application form and applied.
Within two days I received a call for an interview. On arrival I completed a aptitude test and interview, the more I heard about the job from the interviewers the more interested I was in the role. A few days after the first interview I received a call to let me know I was successful for a second interview. For this interview I had to prepare a presentation on Lidl stores, I attended the interview and completed my presentation.
A few days later I was informed by phone that I had been successful. I accepted the job and was given a introductory / training schedule that would begin two weeks later. This training involved getting to know all aspects of the business and not just from an IT prospective. I attended training in the stores and different departments of the warehouse before finally reaching the IT Systems Department in Head Office.
Describe a typical day?
It’s hard to describe a typical day in an IT Department as technology is very unpredictable.
The IT Systems Department is made up of 12 employees with different roles, I work on support troubleshooting issues from 165 Lidl stores, 4 warehouses and 3 Head Offices.
We work on a shift rota within IT Systems and this allows us to provide support 24hrs a day 365 days a year. Depending on the shift that I’m on for the week we have different daily tasks to complete. For example if I am on the early shift we have to complete all the early checks. This involves completing a Daily Shift Form and signing off all tasks once they are complete. Some of the tasks included on the daily shift form are monitoring the vital communication links between HQ, Warehouses and stores, check that all reports ran successfully from the previous night, check that all backups ran successfully, monitor all UPS units are working successfully etc.... The early shift begins at 6.30am this prepares us in case there are any issues and we can hopefully resolve them before all employees begin work at 8am.
If you are on the late shift beginning at 11am then you are on-call throughout the night for any priority one issues. If you are not on a shift you will be providing general day to day support or working on some of the many on-going projects within Lidl.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Providing IT support to Lidl while working within a shift system to meet company needs.
Troubleshoot any software / hardware issues including windows OS / Server, Active Directory, Lotus Notes, Wawi (Oracle and MSSQL databases) Apple Macs.. to list a few.
All support provided must adhere to Lidl’s corporate security policies. The Data protection policy is one of the main policies for the IT Systems department, we need to make sure new starters and current employees only have the access they require and don’t have more access than what they need. When we are changing access we need the required paper work to make these changes, also known as a “User Request Form”, these forms will be referred to when our department is being audited.
We liaise with external service providers to negotiate prices on software licences, maintenance and supply of hardware. IT Systems also provide general support for all departments within Lidl for their day to day function including stores. New applications / hardware need to be tested before being rolled out in Lidl. Therefore, we have a test room to test all changes before they are implemented in the live environment. With every project all the required technical documentation must also be completed including project charter plans and support documentation.
What are the main challenges?
The main challenges of working in IT is to provide a good service while maintaining knowledge of all systems that we support.
Every time a user has an issue they believe their issue is more important than the next users issue, this is when IT needs to prioritise issues as they occur. For example a major outage affecting the stores is a higher priority than a user that cannot log into their PC. The user believes their issue is a priority 1 as they cannot do their job but we need to be able to differentiate between the users issue and an issue that is affecting the business as a whole. As IT is constantly changing we are all challenged to keep up to speed with the latest technologies and changes. If you work within IT you are always learning and will never be bored!
You cannot predict a typical day within the IT Systems Department, day to day it is always changing and therefore you always need to be alert.
It’s fun to work with technology on a day to day basis, working in IT is not a typical job it does not mean you are stuck on front of a PC every day. You are involved in every department in the business and you get to know a lot of the employees within the company.
The job is never boring as there is always something to do. The best thing about working within the IT Systems Department in Lidl is the people I work with. I would not refer to these people as my “fellow colleagues” as they have become my friends over the last few years.
What's not so cool?
The unsociable hours can sometimes impact your social life, if you are doing an upgrade of a system you need to think about how this can be completed without impacting the business.
This means that it has to be done outside of office hours, sometimes late night into the early hours. It can be rewarding when people acknowledge the work you do but sometimes it can be disheartening when you are trying your best but still users are not happy with the outcome.
It is known within the IT industry that the IT department will never be the favourite department within a company. Users can only see how our job impacts theirs but sometimes don’t understand the hard work we do in the background.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I’d like to think that I’m good at problem solving and have the patience to troubleshoot an issue until the end.
In our job in Lidl you also need to be a good people person as we work in a close team and deal with many different people with many different issues throughout the day. I have also brought some new ideas and experience to Lidl as I have worked in the IT industry for the last 6 years.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
What is your education to date?
- HFCS Rathcoole Secondary School - Leaving Certificate: English, Irish, Maths, Business, Economics, Geography and German.
- Institute of Technology Carlow: Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Computer Systems Management and IT (5 Years including 6mths work placement)
- Currently looking into completing some Oracle DB administration courses
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Problem solving plays a major role when working in an IT department so I think you need to like Maths as it is a problem solving subject.
If you don’t like working on equations then I don’t think IT Support is for you. You need plenty of patience when working in IT as issues are not always as easy to resolve as you first think.
The college course I completed involved 6mths work experience, this helped me when I went looking for a full time job as I already had some relevant work experience in the work place. I would definitely recommend doing a course with work placement.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
When I worked for my previous employer an issue was passed to me when a customer was very unhappy with the service.
I listened to the customer and in the end resolved their issue. One week later the company received a mail from the customer thanking me for the job I done and acknowledged my patience.
This mail was brought to the attention of the top management in the company and I was rewarded with a small gift. I will always remember this as sometimes it is just nice when someone says thank you when you’re working in a stressful IT department.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I have good organisational skills to get the job done in the most efficient manner. I take pride in my work and I would like to think users and my manager appreciate the extra effort I make.
I take ownership and will not ignore an issue just because it’s not my responsibility. I have worked in a management position and also on a team and I have excelled in both working environments. Therefore, I’d like to think I am a good people's person.
As previously mentioned you need patience when working in IT and although sometimes the job can be a challenge I’d like to think I have plenty of patience to go around.
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
I love my job as it is different day to day! My social lifestyle can suffer as sometimes the job can be unpredictable and you have to allow yourself to live a flexible lifestyle in case of any emergencies. For example if a server is down you cannot just leave work as you have a yoga class! As my manager knows the commitment the job entails he can be very flexible with personal appointments when made on work time.
If I need to leave early for an appointment my manager is also flexible to allow this. We are also very lucky as the team I work in and the company provide different sociable days / nights out. For example this year we did a team building day in Carton House and also went for a meal after in Maynooth.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
In order to survive in this job you need to be flexible and patient. Technology is unpredictable and sometimes you need to make sacrifices on your personal time to get the job done well.
I think you need to love IT to work in IT as sometimes things need to be checked two or three times before they are implemented. Someone who can think logically would suit IT. You need to be able to take a step back and identify the common denominator before you can get to the root cause of the problem.
I would recommend doing a short course in IT before totally committing to a 4 /5 year degree. I know many people who started in my course in college but dropped out after a year or two as they decided IT was not for them. Many people think the role of IT is to sit in front of a PC all day but this is far from the turth.
There are many different roles within the IT Sector for example software developer, application developer, programmer.... Personally I like support because I can quantify my work for the day by the amount of issues I get resolved.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Lidl have a number of in house applications that external users would not be familiar with. Therefore, when I joined Lidl I completed internal training and upskilling.
In one of my past jobs I completed some Ernst and Young audit training. This allowed me to see the IT department from an auditors point of view so I could be more vigilant when completing my day to day work. I’m currently doing some research on Oracle DB Administration courses as I would like to develop my knowledge of this area of the business.
Education and Training?
Advice for Others?