03 Apr 2019
Riona joined us during an industrial placement 20 years ago. We caught up with her to see how she became the Director of Global Client Service Operations, find out about her hundreds of hours of volunteering as well as how she maintains a work-life balance.
What do you do and where in BT you work?
I work in the Design Delivery and Service Operations in the Global Services division of BT as a Director of Global Client Service Operations. Our unit delivers services for multi-national corporations around the world, providing them with a range of networked IT services and solutions. I’m working on our service transformation, introducing new cross functional solution hubs and a new service incubator model – it's an exciting project as we’re evolving and continually improving our operations, and already seeing results. My role involves working with many teams across BT and also learning from industry and our partners.
Tell us about your career at BT?
I joined first as an industrial placement student in 1999 whilst studying Computing Science at Ulster University, I then returned as a Software Engineering Graduate in 2001. Over the years I’ve worked in many different roles starting out as a software developer, a software tester then moving into Business and Contract Management.
Back in 2007 I was promoted to be the Technology Business Operations Director working for our CFO. I then moved into an IT Programme Director role, rolling out our new sales quote engine across our global operations. My role expanded then working in the Global Service CIO team running sales tools, service delivery, inventory and billing systems for our global accounts. I was also the Global Technical Delivery Director for rolling out Salesforce – a fast paced technology and business change programme rolling the technology out, and driving adoption of this across the world inside 100 days.
I then moved into a more client focussed role working as the Director of Global Client Service Operations driving improvements in our Unified Communications for customers introducing bootcamps for our project management community and connecting up the sales, portfolio and operational teams. Most recently I’m in a global transformation role establishing our first Solution Hub cross functional teams and new service incubator.
You must get to visit various countries for you job, what’s been your favourite and why?
BT has many offices and operational centres around the world, plus we have suppliers and customers in many places, so for different reasons across my many different roles I’ve had to travel. As well as visiting many cities in the UK and Europe I’ve got to spend time in China, India, Malaysia, and South Africa to name but a few places. Not sure I’ve got a favourite place though, as each place has its own story and memories for me. In 2018 it was an amazing experience to spend time with one of our global mining customers in South Africa – a particular highlight was a visit into a coal mine, going deep underground, meeting the miners, learning about how vital a smooth deployment of our Unified Communication technology is for them to function and operate. I love getting an insight into the local culture, language and it’s such a privilege to meet so many interesting people, and see our brand around the world and the impact it has on multi-national corporations.
Tell us more about the 400 hours of volunteering you have completed?
We are given 3 volunteering days each year; a lot of my volunteering is Tech Literacy related – I’m a STEM ambassador speaking at local schools to give students an insight into what its really like to work in the Technology industry and I’m a Barefoot Ambassador trained to teach primary school teachers about how to introduce STEM into the classroom, demystifying terms like ‘computational thinking’. For the past number of years I’ve also volunteered at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin.
Inside BT I run a Volunteering Circle which is a peer to peer support group and knowledge sharing forum for all things Volunteering – it’s fascinating hearing stories from BT people in many different countries that get involved in volunteering in their communities. This year I also attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with over 100 students from Northern Ireland. It was a brilliant experience to be part of the panel listening to the students present their Smart Cities project at MWC 2019. I was honoured to be at the launch of the British Asian Trust partnership this month which will open up even more volunteering opportunities for BT people in India mainly focused on the empowerment of girls.
I also volunteer at an Irish Dancing class at weekends – it’s great to be part of this, watching the children grow in experience in dancing, and other core skills like team work and confidence.
How do you make sure you get a good work-life balance?
I make the best of every situation and have a great support network inside and outside of work. I do work hard, but I also play hard too - I build in exercise, family time, social time, and “me time”. I have a very full schedule but I make sure I take time out for myself. My ‘me-time’ is a mix of retail therapy, circuit training, spin class and sunshine holidays often to Dubai. I’ve got a very supportive family and an amazing circle of friends – many from my childhood, school and people I’ve connected with through work and my travels. I haven’t always got the balance right, but I’ve learned over the years how to improve that. I’m very blessed with the people who have crossed my path, and I like to keep connected as much as I can – the digital world makes that a lot easier!
Lastly, what advice would you give someone thinking of joining BT?
Go for it - you’ll never look back – it’s a huge organisation, going through a lot of change but with that comes opportunity. In BT I love how so many different generations and cultures connect, collide and often learn a lot from each other. The mix of the old, the new, the variety of roles, the global nature, makes it a place that you could spend 18 years in like me, and still feel energised, and curious about what’s around the corner.