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A Day in the Life – Paul Ferguson: Head of European Tools and Automation

24th May 2013

Paul FergusonA day in the life of the European head of tools & automation Paul Ferguson joined SunGard Availability Services in 2001 as a recovery analyst after gaining a Master’s Degree in Biological Research Methods and cutting his teeth on IBM’s graduate training scheme. Three years into the job he took a year’s sabbatical to see the world before returning as a senior recovery analyst. He was promoted to Unix team leader in our Managed Services division and was appointed to his current position in 2011. In 2012 Paul was awarded SunGard’s AS Impact Award for his proactive approach in the implementation of a new inventory management programme.

In Paul’s role as head of European tools and automation, he manages a team of six who look at new ways of improving
how we deliver Managed Services. This often involves developing software to automate the devices that manage,
monitor and maintain our servers to ensure they are performing at their best.

I arrive at our London Technology Centre, having cycled the mostly flat but occasionally perilous ten miles from Englefield Green in Surrey. After grabbing a cup of coffee and checking what’s washed into my inbox overnight I draw up a To Do list for the day.

My team are scattered over five different SunGard sites so we have a 10am call every day to draw things together.
Everyone gives their individual view of the latest in the Tools world and I try to tie the various threads together and share
my accumulated wisdom where I can.

Next, I meet with SunGard’s customer services team to bring them up-to-date on projects to roll various tools out to customers. In return, they raise requests made by customers and we discuss how we can fulfil them.

Almost straight afterwards, I segue into my third meeting of the day – a virtual one this time – the weekly change management call. This is frequently a lively affair involving SunGard staff from different departments, each with a different point of view, dialling in to discuss changes. Together, we determine potential risks, assess processes, deconstruct questionable change plans and ensure there are no conflicts.

I run a reading scheme at a local school in Hounslow so on Wednesdays I take a group of staff over there to read with Year 2 children. Talking to seven year olds about books (and whatever else pops into their heads) provides a refreshing counterpoint to the rest of my day. I’m a governor of the school and have organised donations from SunGard for books and gardening equipment; the usefulness of this was highlighted in the school’s recent Ofsted report.

Back in the office, I focus on writing some new code to fix a software problem.

Next, it’s a flurry of phone calls to my counterparts in other parts of SunGard. We are working to integrate SunGard Ireland’s Managed Services into the global Toolset, which often involves SunGard networking teams around the world talking to each other about weaving together their different systems.

Time for a conference call with one of our engineering teams in SunGard India as we’re working on an improvement to our monitoring operations. Everything is running well but the system is currently issuing a lot of false alarms, which we’re trying to iron out.

I prepare for a meeting with one of our big customers in the City tomorrow. I’ve been asked to update them on monitoring developments and explain how our new Viewpoint portal works.

It’s back on the bike to head for home – I’m pleased to note the rain has held off so far – but my day is far from over. Due to the time difference, I’ll dial into SunGard from home to talk to colleagues in the US to discuss projects and resourcing issues, finalising anything outstanding from the day. It’s a busy and demanding job but I enjoy the variety and am fortunate to have a good team around me.