Adam Skalski, IT & Database Administrator at The British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN), checks in with us to delve into the role of IT in accelerating business goals, and to share his advice for venturing out of the comfort zone.
Why did you choose to pursue a role in IT? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
I have always been an enthusiast when it comes to technology. What started as a childhood fascination with computers has grown into a passion for me. Since the early days of high school, Information Technology was a path which I chose to educate myself in and enhance my skills. However, at first, I have not even given a thought of being in an IT role.
As a young adult, I bounced around from being a call centre advisor, translator, sales executive to assistant manager of a leisure centre. One day, I joined my current workplace on a part-time basis as an administrative assistant as means to earn some extra income. Overtime, the association was going through a transition of moving to a cloud-based EMS (Engagement Management System) and that is where I saw my opportunity to become their Lead Database Admin and I did. So, one might say, this IT role has come across completely unexpected.
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the IT sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
IT is such a broad sector of many opportunities in different fields of expertise. I feel that to excel and do well in this environment, an ideal candidate should always be willing to adapt and go the extra mile in building up their knowledge and skills. IT world changes rapidly with innovations and developments that can ease our and our customers' everyday operations. This means, in an IT role you must not fall behind on what is new and how those new developments can help you and the organisation improve.
Furthermore, a few other key attributes to mention are ‘attention to details and a mind for ‘problem-solving’. These two are key to success in getting the job done correctly and promptly. For one, attention to details will ensure you do not make a mistake that could provide faulty results. Your problem-solving skills will enable you to think on your feet and effectively come to conclusion as to where the issue may occur, troubleshoot those accordingly and promptly resolve any issues that arise, which all lead to being good at what you do.
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
The biggest challenge for me is my knowledge or its lack of. As I mentioned earlier, the IT sector is continuously developing, which also means, that I too must adapt and change my approach with the needs of the business. It is not all about what you learned in school or at home. Every new day brings a new challenge in terms of fixing, developing, and implementing in the business. For me to be able to do it, I must first understand it and learn it myself. There are times when I feel like ripping my hair out however, stepping away from the computer for a couple of minutes, catching some fresh air and then coming back to tackle and overcome those challenges is what the job is all about. At the end of the day, there is no better feeling than knowing that you have done your job well and learned something new along the way.
Aside from that, as a small organisation, a limited budget can be often a challenge to finalise a project to its desired outcome. Everything comes at a price and to develop and upscale the business or improve customer-journey strategies, money will almost always play a role in that. With a limited budget, many ideas which can improve the operations of the business, in general, must be either put on hold or scrapped and as an individual who always seeks to improve, that can be challenging.
What one thing would make your working life easier?
One thing that would make my working life easier is if everyone would understand what I talk about sometimes. Not everyone is tech-savvy and not everyone may understand certain things or how things work the way they work or why they should be done a certain way. On the other hand, if everyone understood IT and how things work then perhaps my job would then become obsolete, right?
How is the role of IT perceived in your organisation?
Many people I came across feel that IT is just simply connecting monitors, keyboards, ethernet cables or any other equipment for that matter, a simple plug and play. However, they all see it that way as that is exactly what they see. My IT colleagues and I know there is much more to it behind the closed curtains. Many do not realise that, for everything to function and perform as it should, many factors come into play from the IT perspective.
When I began my IT role, my colleagues did not understand much about what was required to ensure internal smooth operations as well as full website and database functionality for our members. My role involves not only looking after the database and our website but more so back-end reports, troubleshooting, applying new features for the organisation use and more, all which contribute to successful business operations and our member journey strategy.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in IT?
Being ahead of the game and always willing to learn more. As I mentioned, IT is a continuously changing environment. Now more than ever, younger, and younger individuals come out with skillsets not obtained through college or university but by being self-taught at home. If we look at the likes of Google, Netflix, Tesla and many other world-leading organisations, many of their employees comes from self-taught background and that is what drives success. Most of the time, you won’t be successful if all you do is go to university and get a piece of paper saying you’ve completed a degree, and that’s that. Be innovative, and do not hesitate to come your comfort zone. Do not just stick to what you know, learn more and don’t hide what you know!
At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think IT teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders?
I think it all falls to specific KPI’s set by the organisation. Many IT teams now analyse their performance based on a ticketing portal. This allows monitoring the urgency of the case, how long it was dealt with and whether it was resolved successfully and needed to be escalated further. Such reports can be presented to show how effectively the team is performing, as well as identify areas for improvement. More individual projects would involve a road map – a plan set to specific stages and dates for achieving those stages which the IT team would follow and present their performance to the stakeholders on how well it is going and whether the expected results were achieved.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in IT?
As an IT enthusiast, I can say that the next big thing in IT we can expect is AI (Artificial Intelligence). Although we already see its implementation across the world, it is only a fraction of what can be achieved through its utilisation, and I firmly believe more and more will be unveiled in the coming years that will revolutionise the IT world.