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Six questions with: Lois, IT Infrastructure Manager

26 November 2021

At Witherslack Group, our people are encouraged to be themselves and find their true passion. Over the coming months, we're going to be asking staff who found their true passion whilst working at Witherslack Group a series of six questions.

First up is Lois Howard, IT Infrastructure Manager, who started her career journey as a placement student at Westmorland School and progressed to TA, it wasn't until later, however, that she found her true passion in IT and moved over to a Group role at our head office in the Lake District.

Firstly, Lois, thank you for speaking with us today. How did you come to join the Group?

I joined the Group as a college student. Westmorland School in Chorley was my special needs placement. I loved working there and didn’t want to leave, I went to do my mainstream placement after a term and lasted one day, I rang my tutor and the head of Westmorland and asked if I could go back there. The rest is history, I moved from my college placement to maternity cover TA after I qualified and was lucky enough to then join the group in a permanent role as a TA.

What about your current role, how did you get there?

My current role is IT Infrastructure and Development Manager. While working at Westmorland School I would help and support the 3rd party IT technicians that came to the site, the IT systems were all taken in-house in 2013 and I was lucky enough to work with the Group’s new IT team over the summer holidays and October half-term in 2013 to help with the work needed to move everyone on to their new systems. In 2014 an opportunity came up to apply for an IT technician role which I was successful in. I then worked my way up to senior IT technician, and then my current role.

What would be your tip for those that are looking to apply for roles at WG?

My top tips would be to put the key points about who you are as a person and what you can bring to the role in your application. Always read the job description and ask questions before you apply if you have them, people will always make time to talk to you about the role you are applying for. Be confident in your application and yourself. If you don’t work for us already, take a look at our website and social media to see some of the great things we do as an organisation.

What has been your favourite part of working for WG so far?

My favourite part of working for Witherslack Group is the opportunities I get to meet staff and young people across all of our sites, whether it is new staff teams and young people just starting their Witherslack Group journey, or whether its staff teams and young people who have been here a long time, it’s always nice to talk to people and get their views on how they find the sites and the systems as well as getting to know them. 

How have the leadership team helped you to progress?

They have always been supportive of me and my progression in the role, including opportunities to work with third parties on projects in our data centre and supporting me in completing my master’s degree in cyber security. I’ve found leadership at all levels to be encouraging and positive about my progression within the IT team and this was also the same when I worked at Westmorland School. When we roll out new systems or initiatives there is always the opportunity to learn and develop skills in them and to continue to do this once they are established.

What advice would you have to someone looking to progress, but unsure of how to proceed?

If you are looking to progress either in your role or into a different role, start a conversation with your line manager about where you want to progress and if you have an idea of how you would like to progress, you can also reach out to people in the relevant department or the recruitment team if you are looking to change to a different role. There are many people to speak to who do the role or manage the role you may want to change to, who can give advice on tips on who you could look to do this. You can also use your progress reviews and goals on My Self Service (our HR system) to start working towards your progression route.

Lois thank you so much for answering our questions today.

You’re welcome!

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