Posted on: 25th November 2020, 1:29 pm
For our latest ‘Meet the Team’ post, we quiz our Operations Director, Alex Walker…
How would you describe your job role?
From the six months I’ve been in the role, I’d say it’s quite broad. IT is one of the big chunks of my role, with customer support part of that remit as well, although I still do some consulting. I like the variety in my work as it means each day is a little bit different. Some days I’m really busy because I’ll have customer meetings with questions around architecture and so on, while on other days with fewer meetings I’ll be ploughing through a long list of IT projects and issues.
You’ve been working from home for the duration you’ve been in your new role – how’s it been?
We used to work from home one day each week which I liked, but before the pandemic I probably would’ve said I didn’t want to work from home much more, because I’m quite a people person and I like that personal interaction. I’ve definitely learned to appreciate the benefits of working form home though. I’ve got young kids so I’ve been able to spend more time with the family, have tea with them and help out with school pick-up and drop-off. I’ve also had the opportunity to do more exercise now that I don’t have to sit in the car for an hour and a half each day.
On balance, I’ve concluded that I actually really like it as the additional time really helps build a good work-life balance. There’s definitely times I’d prefer to have a bit of peace and quiet, particularly during lockdown, but we were quite fortunate that our children went back to school in May and there were no after-school clubs. As it happens, we were doing some building work over lockdown so we’ve actually got a new office space to work in at home which makes it positive as well.
Talk to me about your fitness challenge…
As a management team we were trying to come up with something different to get people motivated – we don’t want everything to be work-related. I think it’s fair to say we’ve got a few competitive people in the team, our MD being one of the most competitive along with our Head of Consulting Services, Chris. An exercise-related activity was quite popular – quite a few of us have families and had been doing Joe Wicks’ PE sessions throughout lockdown.
Pretty much the whole company got involved, splitting into two teams of eight people to embark on a random 3000-mile route that Andy came up with. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time but we’re about a month in now and each team are over a quarter of the way through and the last time I checked we were about three miles apart! We’ve got people out doing 60-70km bike rides at the weekend and then you have me walking about three kilometres, but it’s so close that every kilometre counts! It’s something to talk about and have a bit of banter with – I’m not a fitness freak by any means but it’s definitely been a positive for me.
Andy’s been carrying our team a bit having done over 50% of our miles… but he is a triathlete, almost completed Iron Man, and he owns a bike, which I don’t! You’ve then got Chris on the other team who’s been running half-marathons which he’d never done before. It’s good fun seeing them fight over who’s the fastest or who’s the best – I’ll just stand back, spectate and chip in with my couple of miles here and there!
How did you get into this industry?
I’ve always worked in IT, but I used to live in New Zealand and I was working in CRM implementations and project management. I was travelling through South America on my way back when I heard from an old contact, a friend I knew through university, which was Ross Greig who is now our chairman. He wanted to chat with me about a role he thought I’d be suited to, so it fell into my lap really.
I spent a weekend doing one-on-one QlikView training with Ross soon after I got back and I liked it, I thought ‘this is the way my mind works’. I’d always enjoyed working with IT and data, so it really “Qlik’d” with me and I haven’t looked back!
My role initially was very varied but much different to what it is now – I was only the third employee at the time back in 2012. I was working in sales, and we were the first partner of NPrinting in the UK so I was running the NPrinting partner network, as well as running our support department and implementations for NPrinting, on top of a bit of QlikView work. As we grew, I took on more more of the technical side with Andy covering the sales side when he joined. Chris then joined and took on more of the services side, while I’ve kept things like support, architecture and IT.
I’ve really enjoyed the journey because it’s been a significant eight years, both for Ometis in growing from three people to where we are now, but also in terms of Qlik bringing in Qlik Sense and all their acquisitions over that period.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Ometis?
I’m a geek, I love new technology and I love learning about it. Working for a partner, you get to try new things that come out with the product and you get to install technical previews. This is all part of my role, to be aware of those things and be able to advise our customers on what’s coming up and try to deploy things in a different way. I’ve been talking to a customer today about a different implementation, so I’m now trying to test that separately so I can advise them and that becomes part of our knowledge base. I always enjoy the shiny new technology I get to play with, which I can then hopefully turn into something of value for the team and our customers.
How much does it help that you really buy into the product?
Maybe everyone thinks this, but I’d like to think I’ve got some integrity. Therefore, I’d feel pretty shady about recommending something to a customer if it wasn’t really the right product for them. I can’t claim to have in-depth knowledge of other products in the area, but I do know this does what I say it does. We have to be honest, we do see issues and bugs come in, but we have a great relationship with Qlik which means we can get bugs logged, see them go through the lifecycle and see things come through, whereas it can be hard for a customer to have that relationship and contact.
What’s your most embarrassing work moment?
Chris will love this! I say the others are competitive, but maybe that’s because I don’t like letting on how competitive I actually am! We went go karting one time and he overtook me on the final lap of this marathon race. It wasn’t to win, it was for second place – Andy had obviously already won, by crashing Caroline into a brick wall or something! I’d kept Chris behind lap after lap and I’m a Formula 1 fan so I like to think I know the racing lines and things like that. He ended up pipping me on one of the bends and I crashed into the wall and lost loads of time. I was kicking myself, it’s a moment I relive and one day I’ll get you back, Chris! I don’t have nightmares about that moment on a regular basis, honest.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a bit of an extrovert so I tend to talk about things out loud and let people know – I don’t keep things very well hidden. Wiggling my ears maybe as a party trick, but no hidden talents – what you see is what you get!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’ve got young kids so spend a lot of time playing with them, that keeps me pretty well preoccupied. I do a bit of DIY around the house as well, I enjoy a bit of a project. As I said before I’m a Formula 1 fan, I went to Spa in Belgium for the grand prix there for my 40th last year and I’ve been to Silverstone before. My wife definitely isn’t into racing though, so we tend to watch TV series together, soaking up as much of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as we can, with a bit of Disney+ here and there.