Network solutions consultant
"Remember ICT is diverse, and there are many different areas you could work in. Personally, I’ve found that making an early decision to pursue a career in ICT has been a big advantage for my career."
Stewart, what do you do?
I'm a solutions consultant with Singtel Optus. A big part of my role is designing Wide Area Networks (WANs) for our customers, which enable them to connect their various offices or sites to each other. I also assist the sales team with queries about pricing and the more technical aspects of our products.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
On an average day I sit down with a client and discuss their day-to-day ICT needs – from that conversation I can start designing a network that will work for them. I need to understand the customer’s business well before I can design a new network. For example, I need to consider:
- What applications the customer wants to run over the network (for example, standard web browsing, email, Citrix, etc)
- Where their business sites are located, so we can check that we have network coverage for those sites
- Whether they have the in-house ICT skills to connect their Local Area Network to our Wide Area Network, or whether they’ll need our engineers for that
- Finally (and very importantly!), I need to know the customer’s timeframes and budget
Based on all this information, I’ll design a network for their business, which we then price, and discuss with the customer. Sometimes we’ll present our proposed solution to the company’s executives or board.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy the challenges working in an ever-changing ICT environment, and finding new solutions to problems as they arise. It’s also satisfying to meet a new client and offer them a solution to their particular ICT problem, and then see that a system I’ve designed is installed and working (just as planned!).
What are some of the challenges of your role?
One of the challenges is dealing with clients who are having issues with their systems – often by the time they talk to me they’re already experiencing a problem! Then it’s my job to talk the customer through their issue, diagnose the problem and fix it.
Another challenge is understanding a customer’s business plans for the next three-to-five years, so we can build a network that will grow with them – in other words, we need to know our client’s ICT future ‘wish list’. This could include anything from a new disaster recovery plan or more bandwidth, to installing a bunch of new applications across their new network.
What skills do you use in your role?
Obviously, technical skills are important in a role like mine, as well as having commercial awareness – in other words, you need to be able to see your client’s bigger ‘business’ picture.
Clients are much more interested in the bottom-line benefits the network will bring to their business than the technical specifics of a product, so you need to be able to communicate these benefits, in plain English.
What part has education played in your career?
I was interested in computers in high school, particularly ICT networking, so after high school I pursued an Advanced Diploma of Network Engineering at Box Hill TAFE.
A really valuable part of my Advanced Diploma was the chance to gain external vendor certification from a private company. In my case, I gained an internationally recognised certification from Cisco as part of my Diploma. My qualifications allow me to work overseas if I want to.
Where do you see ICT taking you into the future?
I’m definitely looking towards a management role in my field – it will be a good fit with the skills and experience I have, and allow me to build my knowledge in the future.
Finally, do you have any advice for someone considering a career in ICT?
Remember ICT is diverse, and there are many different areas you could work in. Personally, I’ve found that making an early decision to pursue a career in ICT has been a big advantage for my career.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).