Like many other people working in the telecoms industry, I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to be a ‘Technical Architect’, the job simply didn’t exist! Given the ongoing pace of digital and communications change, young people today face a similar challenge. It’s estimated that 65 percent of the children entering primary school now will ultimately work in a job that doesn’t currently exist, so the need to develop and hone a diverse skillset is more important than ever.
Originally from Newry, I attended St. Colman’s College and while I had a keen interest in science and technology subjects at school, it wasn’t until I was studying physics at Queen’s University, Belfast that I considered a move into computer science. I enjoyed learning about programming and analytics and as part of my course, I was writing scripts to help analyse data and was fascinated by how IT programmes could be used to solve problems. Once I graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Physics with Astrophysics, I moved into computer science and electronic engineering and completed an MSc in Telecommunications. The rest, they say, is history!
Whilst at Queen’s, my passion for physics led to me joining PAMSOC, the official Physics and Maths society. Sparking and nurturing my interest in the topic even further, this is an active community of students and scientists who have a passion for the subjects and allowed like-minded folk to socialise, share scientific ideas and gain more insight into the areas of most curiosity. I’m not ashamed to say this is as geeky as it sounds, but it was a fantastic forum to relax, have fun and discuss the latest trends in our respective fields.
I’ve been with eir Business NI for over 10 years, joining the company early in 2008 initially as a Network Operations Centre (NOC) Engineer. In my current role as a Technical Architect for eir Business NI, I work closely with customers to design and deliver solutions across their wired and wireless company networks, datacentre and firewalling environments – ensuring companies can deliver the critical applications for their ongoing business growth.
Alongside technical knowledge and expertise, attention to detail and strong communications skills is a must in my role. Our customers often have varied, complex requirements. It’s crucial that the network solutions we create match those needs and are integrated seamlessly. Being able to think outside the box is important, so if you are the type of person who can solve problems when others are stuck or is known for their creative flair, then a career in telecommunications could be for you! No two days are ever the same, and the best part of my job is the variety of work – the differing projects and the ability to operate across several technology fields. It’s extremely rewarding seeing a design come into production and deliver a positive impact.
While networking has predominately remained quite static, our industry has been experiencing somewhat of a metamorphosis in the past five years. What happened in the computer world 10-15 years ago – when everything became virtualised – is now happening to the network world. If we don’t keep abreast of the latest technological trends and innovations, we risk being left behind. Another important issue is the growth of cyber-attacks. With an ever-evolving digital landscape, it is imperative that businesses and individuals invest in time and resources to ensure they protect their assets.
Reflecting on my career journey and highlights so far, I would say my overarching ambition is to ensure we harness the benefits of digital transformation. This is an exciting time for our industry – in the next number of years how networks are designed and controlled is going to fundamentally change. As such, there is a wealth of opportunities for young people to enter and flourish in the telecommunications sector. Digital technology is creating growth in Northern Ireland, enhancing the way businesses work, so there are plenty of opportunities out there for anyone willing to grasp them.
Jarlath Mallon is Technical Architect with eir business NI. You can connect with Jarlath on LinkedIn