The Start – Gardners Books
I started in IT whilst working for Gardners Books, Britain’s largest book wholesaler. We had a (simple to start with) electronic ordering system that allowed Booksellers to record sales with a barcode reader, press a button and automatically replace the books sold with a next day delivery. Our feeling at the time was that Booksellers should use us, their wholesaler, as their storeroom; thus reducing their own stockholding costs.
Over a period of time, the system evolved until it became a full stockcontrol system with built in email (rare, at the time), online (and immediate) confirmation of which books would be supplied the next day and a facility to display full colour images of book covers (with a simple synopsis, as well), thus allowing booksellers to take orders for books they didn’t actually have in stock.
During my time at Gardners, I learnt the importance of customer care, as well as less desirable skills such as hard work, programming in C and supporting Novell file servers.
The Next Stage – Glaxo Welcome
Finally though, in the summer of 1995 I decided to move on to learn new things. I went contracting; I was very lucky and got a contract immediately at Glaxo Welcome at Greenford (West London) and, after 2 weeks working at the Research and Development facility, I moved across the car park to head office.
I spent two years at Glaxo, learning new things almost every day but, after finishing a particularly hard contract within theBusiness Solutions Group (providing financial IT support to budget centre managers) I decided, once again, to move on.
My First Home – Chase Manhattan Bank
I took a holiday in Turkey and then, upon my return, took the first contract that came up. That was at Flemmings (a small investment bank in the city). After 6 weeks, I realised that although the money was good, there wasn’t enough work for me there (I can still remember one painful day when the only job to come in was to replace a broken keyboard).
Once again, I took the first job that came up. It was a one week contract at Chase Manhattan Bank, contracted for the incumbent IT supplier, ICL. The one week turned into two months and, when it was over, ICL offered me a job as senior engineer and team leader. I jumped at it.
My first six months were taken up with clearing the backlog of outstanding calls and getting to grips with the technical changes that were sweeping thought the bank. Finally, in 1999, I became Service Manager (having worn out the three previous Service Mangers, I guess that ICL felt that that was the safest thing to do).
During my time at Chase, I was involved in the following projects…
A 3,500 desktop rollout.
On-site/overnight technical support during the largest custody transfer in the history of banking.
Support through the Euro conversion project – 1998.
Support through the year 2000 critical period.
Another 3,500 desktop rollout!
As well as a whole host of other things that seemed to matter at the time (and more PC moves than I ever want to remember).
Finally, it became time to move on again (within ICL) to a new client. My fondest memories of Chase were of all the friends I made there, the letter I received from the CEO of ICL thanking me for my efforts (with a nice bonus, as well) and, once I had left, realising that ICL had moved in 3 Service Managers to take my place.
A Final Home – Standard Chartered Bank
My next home was at Standard Chartered Bank where I stayed until I left ICL to move to France in March of 2002.
Although I had a host of duties there, my over-riding memory is of the change control work I became involved in after September 11th. SCB were based, in the States, on the 6th floor of the South Tower (the second one to get hit but, the first one to collapse). They suffered only one casualty but, obviously, lost all of their IT.
Even before September 11th, however, I had realised that 13 years in high-pressure IT was long enough and that it might be an idea to try something new.
My True Home – Brittany
I moved to France in November of 2002. After spending 9 months in the lovely village of Ruffiac (near Malestroit), I moved (to be nearer to work) to Les Croix.
I worked at EuroPig (who are France’s largest Pig Abbatoir) for over 6 years (where I put boxes on pallets all day – well, that’s certainly trying something new!) before starting up on my own.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at…. Keith@KeithEckstein.com