James Tomlinson is Auxilion’s Service Desk Operations Manager, based in the Sheffield office, where he has worked since 2018. He told us about his background before joining Auxilion, his journey with the company so far, and why no two days are ever the same in his role.
What was James’s background before joining Auxilion?
“I studied Business Studies & IT at college. My first role after that was as an IT Support Technician. As part of that role, I worked in the automotive industry, for a large supplier of car parts throughout the UK. My role was to provide on-site support for the employees plus remote support for the service centres. I was responsible as part of a team to make sure the systems were always up, because they’d lose money otherwise.
“After being there a couple of years, I was promoted to a Team Lead role. I was then responsible for a team of people, making sure that all the schedules were in place, making sure support was always available because it was 24/7 at the time. I was also involved in a lot of the training requirements for the team, and I was escalation point for any issues. So that was how I was introduced to management roles.”
James then moved into a new industry.
“I stayed there for a few years and then I moved on to another company which was in the construction industry. The first role I took up with that company was Regional Support Technician. That involved traveling through the UK visiting construction sites, ensuring that their IT was set up to operate effectively. I would do a site survey, set up all the equipment, make sure they had broadband and everything.”
This role brought some unusual challenges.
“Sometimes it could be a bit complicated because all these sites were brand new, so there were no post codes at the time! Sat nav wasn’t particularly great then, and you couldn’t really put in post codes anyway, because they were brand new locations that didn’t really exist yet! But it was good fun, going to the sites. You’d be returning every month or every few months, so you’d see the site progressing over time and then, eventually, the finished product. It would be amazing to see where they started from and where they finished up.”
“After doing the Regional Support role I was promoted to IT Manager. That was a change because I was managing a team again and it was mainly office-based. Once I gained experience in that, I saw the opportunity to join Auxilion. The Auxilion role was IT Service Desk and Operations Manager. I thought that sounded really interesting because what I was doing was a similar role but in the construction industry. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to focus purely on an IT company rather than doing IT in another industry. I saw the role advertised and it seemed like a really interesting next step for me. I got the role and joined Auxilion in the back end of 2018.”
Auxilion Journey So Far
“My role has changed a lot since I joined. Originally, it was mainly dealing with service desk issues, you’d be dealing with ticket management, request management, dealing with customers. Where the role has changed a lot now is that I get heavily involved in transition of customers, onboarding customers. If we’ve got a new enterprise customer coming on board, I’ll be involved in the initial conversations with them. I’m involved in a lot of the planning behind that, in a lot of the training, a lot of the resource planning, which is all quite interesting.
“I work on a lot of future planning, innovation, IT strategy within the SOC. Any decisions we make in terms of what we want to use as toolsets, what we want to implement within the SOC.”
“I’m on the Communications Committee as well. It makes it all really interesting, being involved in so many aspects of the company. The nice thing that I’ve found about Auxilion is that there are always opportunities to develop skills in other areas. There aren’t any barriers limiting your role. I’ve been involved in project management as well- someone could turn around and say, ‘that’s not really your role,’ but there’s none of that in Auxilion. You can be quite flexible in terms of what you want to learn and what you want to get involved in. That’s why I’m not too concerned with job titles, because I know that my role expands over many boundaries, so trying to sort of niche it and put a title to it can be quite difficult.
“You’ve also got the day-to-day stuff like mentoring and recruitment. When I started, my team was ten people, across the UK and Ireland. And now we have 21, so we’ve doubled in numbers in a short time. It’s grown massively. The roles have changed as well. When I first started, we just had first line engineers who’d answer the phones. But we’ve brought in other roles, we’ve got Level 2 Engineers, Incident Manager, Team Leads, which hadn’t existed before. There are a lot of opportunities now, people maybe didn’t see as many within this team before. I think that’s part of why we’re retaining people, which is great.”
How would James describe the working environment in Sheffield?
“We’re quite open in terms of how we work, we give everyone opportunities to be heard, no matter what role they’re in. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, they’re free to offer them and they’ll be listened to. I think people appreciate that, the open culture. There are opportunities in terms of development and in terms of implementing ideas.
“On the social side, we get together a lot, we have a local pub which helps! We sometimes go for a few drinks and relax a bit after work, which I think is part of why the culture is so good. It’s relaxed, but the key priority is always getting the work done and making sure the customer is happy.
“In terms of recruitment, one of the main things is bringing in people with customer experience. A lot of our people when they started didn’t really have IT experience as such. They came from customer service backgrounds and then we trained them into IT roles. That foundation of customer experience is important. And it really pays off when they pick up calls and speak to customers. A lot of people have really developed, for example getting to L3 roles having started in L1 roles without an IT background.”
How does James see his journey with Auxilion progressing?
“Since I’ve started my role has expanded and changed a lot. I get involved with a lot of different people and different areas across the business, which is great. I see my role expanding more over time. My manager, Kevin Deniss, gets me involved in a lot of things. I see myself getting more involved in budget type roles, the financial side of things. Because we’re expanding so quickly, I think I’ll develop more financial expertise as I think it will be necessary.
“I work closely with a lot of Customer Experience Managers and with customers directly, so I could see myself becoming more involved in that, assisting the CEMs. I don’t like to pigeonhole myself, I can see my role continuing to expand. A big focus is innovation. Innovation, automation, those are ] key areas. To progress as a company, we need to focus on innovation. For example, how can we reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve tickets? How can we deliver even better services to our customers? What toolsets can we use to do that? Innovation will be key in all of that. We’ll need developers working on all this, and we have to do it while maintaining BAU.”
The variety of areas James works in keeps things challenging.
“One of the things I like about Auxilion- and I know this is a bit of a cliché but it’s true- no day is ever the same. I can look at my calendar one evening and think ok, that’ll be my day, and then I arrive in and it turns out completely different! That’s how it is in Operations. You never know when a P1 is going to come up. When a customer environment is down that suddenly becomes total priority and you don’t know if it’ll be an hour, two hours, half your day. It keeps you on your toes, but I enjoy that- the variety, the excitement. It’s great when you’ve had a P1 and you’ve dealt with it, the customer is happy, you feel like you’ve achieved something with your day.”