We recently caught up with Paul Hitchenes to find out more about his career choices in IT, recent appointment into a global role with Mayborn Group and his experience with NRG.
When you were younger, how did you see your future career panning out?
I had various thoughts growing up as to what I wanted to do for a career, from a professional footballer to a policeman, but I gave up on those ideas very quickly. I didn’t have a clear vision or set direction so I enrolled for a Business Studies degree at Teesside University. Following my graduation I quickly realised that my degree was very generalist, with high level knowledge of accountancy and marketing, but lacking sufficient depth to progress into a career in these areas.
Following my degree, I completed a one-year contract within a government agency and I started to get involved in a number of IT elements and projects, picking up various office related skills.
During this time, I saw a role advertised with Sage – and it wasn’t the role that attracted me – but the thought of working for such a well-known North East brand, it was at this point that I drifted into a career in IT.
The importance of working for iconic brands stayed with me throughout the rest of my career as I believed it added a lot of weight to my CV – plus there’s the added benefit of larger organisations tending to have strong training regimes and a commitment to people development.
I held various roles at Sage and at both Newcastle and Northumbria Universities before taking up a position with the Arriva Group. Initially, my role was ICT Service Centre Manager, appointed to deliver an IT transformation project. I then progressed to Head of Business Systems, a national role with responsibility for all IT, business systems and support functions within a new division, Transport Solutions.
My last two roles with Think, the digital transformation agency and Waterstons, business and IT consultancy, were a deliberate side-step in my career to learn about new industries and new practices.
Can you give us an overview of your new role?
I joined Mayborn Group (owner of the tommee tippee brand) in March 2018 and my first few weeks have been spent getting to know people, learning about the scope of the role and understanding current projects and dependencies. The IT services is going through a period of transformation and with the introduction of various new digital tools and solutions to modernise IT delivery to the Group, it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to shape the role from scratch rather than filling someone else’s shoes – a real chance to reinvent what the company is doing.
My role is to ensure the IT services that Mayborn Group use are available and accessible around the world at all times, from end user devices through to back end infrastructure. This can be from making sure a new starter receives their laptop on time and is able to access the right systems and set up on appropriate technologies, right through to overseeing the infrastructure from our managed service provider, ensuring it meets our capacity needs and has suitable room for growth.
I am also responsible for transitioning any businesses that Mayborn Group purchase onto our IT systems, co-ordinating projects around hardware, infrastructure and training.
I am extremely ambitious and as well as growing my team, I hope to develop and grow with Mayborn Group myself. As mentioned, I took a couple of deliberate side steps in my career to gain a more rounded experience and this role is me stepping back onto my desired career path and pursing my ultimate ambition of becoming an IT Director.
As a global business, what challenges do you face in your role?
We are a global business operating 24/7 with our IT service delivery function based in the UK, and this in itself presents immediate challenges due to varying time-zones. We try to be as flexible as possible, incorporating early morning/late night Skype calls, with everyone based in the UK able to join calls from home outside of business hours.
We only have a short window of overlap with our offices in Melbourne, New York and LA, and our global manufacturing facilities, so we need to make sure we have the mechanisms in place to be able to support where we can, managing contracts with local IT providers so all of our sites have quick, hands on support when needed.
Part of my role will be to visit overseas sites within the Mayborn Group, as well as local suppliers. You can only do so much via Skype and email – it’s hard to build relationships and gather a real vision of how our sites operate from behind a screen. I’m currently arranging trips to visit Hong Kong, China this year, and more during 2019.
In addition to the day to day challenges of global IT operations, Mayborn Group had several projects already in-flight which I have taken responsibility for and needed to get up to speed on quickly. We are relocating our head office in September, moving our IT infrastructure to a new data centre, and upgrading our ERP system. Each of these is a major project which you ordinarily would not undertake at the same time, so there is a lot of pressure on the IT team.
How has your experience with NRG been over the years?
I’ve had a long history of working with NRG, both from a client, and more recently a candidate perspective. When I worked at Northumbria University I was responsible for the recruitment of contract staff for their service desk. The team at NRG had in-depth knowledge of the types of people and experience we were looking for, saving us precious time having to sift through CV’s. We knew the people they put in front of us would be what we were looking for.
I was approached about the role of Global Service Delivery Leader at Mayborn Group by Gary Rogers, Managing Consultant of NRG’s IT and Digital Division. Gary knew me well and thought the challenge of a global role would be the next natural step in my career.
This newly created role was seen as critical to the business in the global delivery of IT and as such I had various stages of interview with Head of IT, Operations Director, the CEO and HR Director. It was a long process; however Gary kept me up to date throughout and managed my expectations. The worst thing from a candidate’s point of view is radio silence!
If you’re a client looking to add new talent to your team, or a candidate looking to take the next step in your career – you can find out more about the expertise of NRG’s IT and Digital Division here.