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Hilary's Journey from Geography Graduate to Expert IT Practitioner

Hilary studied Geography at university before commencing her career in IT, starting as a trainee. Having joined the Met Office in 2002, Hilary has progressed to the post of Expert IT Practitioner and is a highly respected and skilled member of our Technology community at Exeter HQ. A major function of Hilary's role involves leading a team of IT practitioners.

1.      What attracted you to the Met Office?

The location, being able to work for a prestigious organisation along with the opportunity to learn new things.

2.      How did you start working at the Met Office?

I have been working for the Met Office for over 15 years, having applied for a job as part of an IT recruitment drive just before the Met Office Headquarters relocated to Exeter. Prior to working at the Met Office, and after graduating from university with a Geography degree, I worked for an insurance company as a IT programmer under a graduate trainee scheme.  

3.      What kind of training and development opportunities have you had at the Met Office?

Although I had IT experience when I started working at the Met Office this was in a different programming language, using different software and on a different IT platform therefore when I started working at the Met Office I received full training in the software I would be supporting, along with the IT platform this was hosted on. I also received wider organisational training, including an introduction to meteorology. I was also fortunate to receive training in IT Service Management giving me an opportunity to further broaden my IT and management skills.

4.       What experience have you gained while at the Met Office?

I have gained experience in the full lifecycle delivery of systems and software, with the opportunity to get involved in user requirements capture, system design, development, testing, implementation and on-going support. I have also had the opportunity to develop my management skills as I have taken on different roles during my time at the Met Office.

5.       How did you get into your current role?

I started at the Met Office as an IT Practitioner, through experience, gained, and demonstrated; I progressed to Senior IT Practitioner then to Technical Lead and now to IT Team Leader. For over 10 years of my career at the Met Office I undertook a pure technology role but when the opportunity arose I was keen to take on the Team Leader role which has allowed me to stay involved in technology but given me the opportunity to develop my management, organisational and leadership skills.

6.       What sort of things have you been doing in the last 12 months?

I manage the IT services delivered by my team to ensure they meet agreed Operational Level agreements whilst remaining fit for purpose. My work includes managing system / software upgrades, ensuring patches are applied as required, working with teams across the office to develop and extend the use of the systems my team supports, ensuring that user requirements are being met, reviewing and managing changes to the systems, liaising with customers and suppliers, managing licenses and contract renewals, planning and managing resourcing for work and managing the staff within my team. I have also had the opportunity to get involved with STEM events, supported by the Met Office, which has included helping organise the Met Office Science Camps, representing the Met Office at Big Bang South West and setting up a code club at a local school.

7.       What do you get up to day to day?

It is incredibly varied and I need to be good a juggling many activities. A day may include some time focused on staff management and development activities, then reacting to  system / support issues and then working with project/resource managers to plan and manage on-going development work.

8.       What does the role involve that people might not expect?

Interaction with many teams and an element of project management. The flexibility of the office regarding working part-time still allows me the opportunity to progress in my career.