Get To Know... James Piggford - Problem Engineer
In insight / By Charlotte Tobulevicius / 04 April 2019
“I joined Nasstar in May 2014 and prior to this I had always worked in IT, building my career from the ground up; starting as a desktop support apprentice for an IT firm in Telford and then working for a stockbroker in Birmingham which I found to be quite interesting. However, there was very little career progression here and that’s when I made the decision to join Nasstar.
I joined the Telford team as a 2nd line support engineer, working to resolve customer tickets and ensure our clients were happy. My attraction to Nasstar was that it was an IT company which offered progression and a clear career path to work towards. Being in the 2nd line team, much of my work was about fixing the issue and then moving onto the next problem and so it was quite fast-paced.
After around 2 years, I moved up from 2nd line into 3rd line support which is no longer a department as it merged into problem management and operations. This is when I started my journey in the problem management team and how I came to be a problem engineer here today.
I really enjoy my current role as it allows me to get stuck in with finding the root cause of a problem, which is a much better fit for me than being in the support line teams. As a team, we proactively look through support tickets to find recurring problems and then work together to combat them, whilst learning how to prevent them from happening again. Being able to get to the bottom of a problem is hugely satisfying and enables us, as a company, to exercise a ‘prevention is better than cure’ methodology.
Our team also works closely with the infrastructure team who implement updates to client systems. This is often the answer to a problem and so we need to manage client expectations whilst also being aware of the infrastructure team’s pipeline of work. There are occasions however where problems can’t be fixed; for example, if they are concerning legacy applications where two applications need one another, and so can’t be updated without having an impact on the other one.
As a Problem Engineer, I could be working on a certain issue for weeks, months or even years at a time, whereas sometimes I will be able to fix it within a day. This is what makes the role so varied and enjoyable, as well as keeping me on my toes!
Since joining Nasstar I have undertaken some leadership training which, although I’m not in a team leader position, was very beneficial to me as I was able to learn about people and process. This has encouraged me to better help our support teams when needed, as I can educate them in a way which ‘leads’ as opposed to ‘telling them what to do’.
Nasstar is very much a family-orientated business and has maintained a friendly staff base since I joined. This is something I really value, as there is no point in working with people you don’t get on with, especially when working in an open plan office. I think if I were to change anything about Nasstar, it would be to have more windows in the office and perhaps separate out some of the smaller teams from the open plan space.
Although the company has changed significantly since I joined, it has managed to keep its culture and values; growing as a business, keeping up to date with technology, evolving with innovation and upholding a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
We all need some down time outside of work and in my spare time, I enjoy football. As a Villa fan, you can often find me at Villa Park of a weekend! Alongside this, I also love snowboarding and try to get over to France as much as I can to get my snowboarding fix.
When looking back on my career, it’s interesting that I ended up in IT because as a child, I really wanted to be a fighter pilot! I’m not sure that’s something I would take up now but if I weren’t at Nasstar, I think I’d like to run a nice country pub – my college days as a waiter must have had an influence on me!
If I were to give advice to someone new joining the problem management team, it would be to be patient, maintain an open mind and always go back to the beginning of the issue. I find it easier to work from there as you are less influenced by other factors which may have occurred since the start of the problem and you can therefore step back and look at the situation differently.”