Tell us a bit about yourselves
“My IT career began in 1990 after 13 years of working in the food Industry. I started off working with computerised data-collection processes and databases. After 8 years, I joined the Humberside Police, working in their Information Services Branch. For 14 years I was involved with many different areas of IT within the Force. After leaving the Police, I worked for a large IT firm as an Application Support Engineer before joining FDM in 2015 as a trainer in the Glasgow Academy.
Fun Fact: I am a keen photographer, musician and moviegoer.
I graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Natural Science. I joined FDM when the Academy was based in Manchester in 2010 on the Graduate Programme. I trained on the Software Development pathway and was quickly placed with HSBC for 2 years. After my placement had finished, I decided to become a Development trainer and joined FDM Glasgow in 2016.
Fun fact: I was a lifeguard once upon a time!
Can you give us an overview of what you do in the academy?
Mark: I deliver all the Foundation courses to all the consultants that join the academy on the different pathways (Pro Skills, SQL, Excel, UNIX and Web Apps). I also train the IT Service Management stream (mainly Windows and UNIX OS Admin).
Craig: I train candidates in software development. From the basics up to the latest trends in industry such as DevOps culture and continuous integration. For the first three weeks of Java we focus on the core syntax and best practice in development. The following three weeks we dive into key frameworks such as Spring and JPA before letting trainees show off the skills they have learnt on a two-week group project.
What do you do on a typical day at the office?
Mark: I usually arrive in the Academy at about 08:20 and grab a coffee to kick-start the day. If I am delivering a course, I have a quick look over the course materials for that day and make sure everything is ready in the training room. If I am not delivering training that week, I will usually be working on developing more examples for the courses I train or upskilling in different modules. Almost all my technical skills are self-taught, and Technology is an industry where there is always something new and exciting to learn!
Craig: Typically, I start the day with a quick run through of the class Kanban board, making sure everyone is happy with previous topics and helping with any queries, they may have. I like to make sure that what I am teaching is relevant to the class, for example, if they have an interview coming up which requires a specific skill or project then I will help them prepare. My teaching style is a combination of trainer-led examples as well as group conversation before giving a challenge to trainees to take what they have been shown and put it into practice – we ensure everyone is very hands on and avoid PowerPoint.
What would you say is the most challenging part of your job and the course?
Mark: Because most classes consist of people with a range of previous IT experience, it can be a challenge to ensure you are delivering the course material at the right pace and to the correct level of complexity. I need to ensure that those trainees with less experience are not being left behind, whilst at the same time keeping the more experienced trainees engaged.
With regards to the course it is difficult to predict exactly what IT Service Management consultants will be doing when they are out on site as l clients might have specific requirements. Without a doubt, the most challenging part from a trainer perspective is to ensure that the trainees are equipped with the right set of transferrable skills so they can easily fit into any environment.
Craig: Just as Mark said, not everyone learns at the same pace or in the same way, this can lead to some people being miles ahead and a straggler or two at the back. Balancing extra materials for some and extra help for others can be tough.
I am sure most of the consultants would say the exams are the most challenging part of the development course, but the reality I would say it is the group project and one day projects. We give trainees total free reign on these. Many people seem to think Computer Science and STEM graduates make the best trainee, but personally, I think that anyone with a good background in recognising patterns would make a good developer.
What is your favourite thing about Development or IT Service Management?
Mark: My favourite aspect of the IT Service Management course is encouraging the trainees to develop and exercise their fault finding and troubleshooting skills, which form the core of most ITSM roles. There is a great sense of achievement that comes from finding the solution to a problem that has baffled other people.
Craig: Probably the people; getting to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds is great – especially in development teams. Diversity is a major issue in industry so it is great to see how people of different backgrounds bring unique solutions to the table that I would not have naturally arrived at.
What is your favourite thing about working for FDM?
Mark: One of the best things about FDM for me is working within a team of highly knowledgeable and experienced trainers, who are all willing to pitch in and help each other at all times. Also, training people, many of whom are at the beginning of their working lives, a good start in IT and seeing them progress with rewarding careers gives me a great sense of job satisfaction.
Craig: The social aspect at FDM is great. Everyone works as a team and pulls together when anything is needed and there are issues to resolve.