Who you going to call? A Systems Administrator!
Search any job board for systems administrator and it will return hundreds of results. Every day many of us are likely to interact with a systems administrator; we do and his name is Daniel Leece. Whether it’s a technical glitch or pushing our systems to do something innovative, he has been everyone’s saviour at some point. That’s why we thought Dan would make a great candidate to delve into a regular day of a systems administrator.
Dan, tell us a bit about yourself and the road to becoming a systems administrator?
I’ve always had a strong interest in technology and science, so I started University studying Bachelor of Computer Science which at the time primarily revolved around coding but that wasn’t necessarily where I wanted to end up. I also took TAFE courses in hands-on IT administration and using those skills I landed my first job. Along the way, I have kept myself current with necessary certifications.
Right now, I’m currently one of the systems administrators at 4logic (Titan Recruitment’s managed service provider) and count myself lucky that my path has led me here.
Reflect back from your first day to now. Has your career evolved the way you thought or has it changed?
The rate of change in the industry is so high that there’s a constant push to stay up-to-date, certified and relevant but by the same token the industry gives the flexibility to adapt or reconsider your focus.
I suppose I thought I’d take a different route; I started off in internal education and then moved into managed services which was a huge change. I’ve been lucky to have my career move in a positive direction, and I’m learning new technologies as a result of that (rapid change). I find my career is constantly pivoting.
Can you describe Systems Administration?
You’ve got systems engineering, which is building the infrastructure then you’ve got administration which is making the software run according to the user requirement and managing the network policies according to the user requirements. Basically, getting all the software to talk to each other is the easiest way to explain it.
What does a Systems Administrator do at 4logic, and what does a typical day look like?
It varies greatly. The job is centred around ticketing systems so we keep an eye on the queues, and the dispatches (who gets allocated the ticket) are based on our backgrounds and skillsets. My day revolves around tickets and solving people’s tech problems.
What is the biggest innovation that has you and the team talking?
The big focus is on security and multi-factor authentication at the moment as there are constant innovations in and amongst it. Making sure we are providing clients with high levels of security knowledge means we need to be across change in this space.
What are your customers/clients like? And how do you support them on a day to day basis
The first thing you learn about in managed services is that you constantly have to be on your toes and learn to adapt because no two clients are going to be the same. In terms of how we support them, that revolves around their expectations and their systems infrastructure as well as how much they want to invest in it and learn.
Other than in your job how else do Systems Administrators help teams?
Particularly in the case of engineering, most systems engineers and administrators would tinker away at their desk, but there is a lot of client facing time. It is important to get to know how (our clients) work so that we can learn to improve processes based on informed decisions and client expectations.
What keeps you motivated to go to work each day?
IT is an interesting field. I suppose it’s like a puzzle and that’s what drives me. No two days are the same and there is always going to be a puzzle to solve.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I quite like dealing with customers. Mainly, it is an opportunity to change the way they think or feel about IT because it can be daunting. It is also a good chance to show them that we are not faceless, and we want to improve things for them.
When dealing with clients who may not be as (ahem) techy as you there must be some funny stories – can you tell us one?
Happens all the time! We always get people calling up who may not be tech confident or try to hide a slip-up they’ve made, and based on experience you know what’s gone wrong.
Once we had someone bring their laptop to us and say, “I don’t know what’s happened, the screen’s broken”. We pull the laptop out of the bag, take a look at it, and this person had a mouse sitting on the keyboard in the exact position where the screen had been smashed. The laptop had clearly hit the mouse and yet said they didn’t know what had happened.
What is your proudest on-the-job accomplishment?
It’s good feedback from clients. It’s not just a one-time thing, it happens constantly, and for me personally, that makes me feel good that our clients appreciate the support.
Tell me a little bit about your life outside of work… is it all science and technical?
Mostly! As I’ve gotten more experienced, and there’s not been the urgency to learn as much as I used to, I’ve backed away from sitting down in front of the computer in my spare time. Now, I try to get out with my dogs, go fishing and that sort of stuff!
What makes for a great systems administrator and any tips for aspiring systems administrators starting out?
Lose your expectations! Don’t go in with expectations to study for a role you want now because that will change simply because of the tech environment we are in.
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can offer to someone starting out in IT is to stop and listen; the devil is in the detail so listen and you will learn a lot more and garner the respect of your peers quickly.
We thank Dan for agreeing to be part of this story and the great team at 4logic for their support.