Chris Price celebrates 5 years at OGL Software
A huge congratulations to Chris Price who reached his 5 year Long Service milestone this week.
We caught up with Chris to find out more about his time at OGL so far…
"I originally applied for a job at OGL Computer in 2014 but ultimately settled into another IT Support role at Redditch Borough Council. Less than a year after this I was contacted by the IT Manager at King Charles I School in Kidderminster who wanted to offer me an interview to work in their IT Support team. This was the school I had attended and had also worked for on a part-time basis during my 3rd year at university. I took on the role they offered and felt quite comfortable there.
During my time at the school, I had started to develop my programming knowledge with the consent of my manager to pursue programmatic solutions to some of the issues we faced. This started with a query that came from the Safeguarding Lead: they wanted to know if we could implement a desktop widget that vulnerable students could click on to send an alert in confidence to the Safeguarding and Pastoral team. I jumped at the chance to develop something and put my idea forward. Within months this had grown into a modular solution that allowed for widgets to be defined purely through text. Textboxes, labels, buttons, images, and other UI elements could be defined, and actions could be assigned to them without needing to know programming. Teachers could reset student passwords at the click of a button and all users could raise a support ticket with screenshots attached all through some coloured tabs that would align to the edge of the screen and reveal widgets when clicked on. Other utilities I made separate to this allowed for the support team to automate some of the lengthier processes they were daunted by, such as creating the next year group of student accounts by just importing a list of names.
Fast forward to 2018 and working in a school at the time had its challenges as budget cuts heavily impacted the support staff. Potential redundancy was on the cards as they were looking to reduce two IT Technicians down to one. We managed to get through those times with the team intact by taking on support contracts with local primary schools, but the seed had been planted – I couldn’t stay there forever. Big fish in a small pond seems a fitting analogy.
I bumped into Alex Barnett who worked for OGL Computer – now Wavenet – and he suggested I apply. I’m sure he now regrets not going through the referral scheme!
It was OGL Computer’s technical team that I initially applied for, but after being interviewed by Rachel Seagrove, it was suggested I come in for an interview within the Software division.
During the interview I mentioned that I had gained some experience coding in C# but had never heard of this ‘Sculptor’ language that prof.ITplus used. As it turns out, that wasn’t much of an issue as few people would have.
I started on the 1st Line for prof.ITplus Support to get an understanding of the product itself and building a rapport with our customers.
Within a year I had progressed to 2nd Line Bridge (AKA Associate Technical Services, AKA PG, AKA ‘The Programmers’). 2nd Line Bridge handles all sorts of data queries and issues from customers and while it isn’t mandated that our Bridge engineers write code, being able to read it certainly helps. I slowly gained exposure to the Sculptor code that drives prof.ITplus and started to make small changes to the code to fix issues.
A significant portion of my time on 2nd Line Bridge was during the pandemic. This came with its own difficulty as customers' support requirements changed and communication became more important than ever. I continued to push myself to do more, diving deeper into some of the more challenging incidents we received.
Brexit kicked off 2021 and affected how our customers would need to handle goods. Debbie Hotchkiss and I would focus primarily on the influx of Brexit incidents that were raised at the time – something that didn’t let up for a couple of months. This had me working closely with our customers and our developers, bridging this gap in a way I hadn’t before, offering more insight into the processes our customers follow and the code that enables them through our software.
As the volume of Brexit-related calls waned and the status quo returned, I resumed working with the bridge team. As we came out of lockdown I had been recognised by Phil Hawkes as potential for our 3rd Line due to my pursued exposure to Sculptor. The role was offered to me later that year and after all the pieces were in place, I was able to join 3rd Line properly (now known as Technical Services) in December 2022.
3rd Line is the last point of escalation within Software Support, so any incidents we deal with are likely to have already undergone extensive investigation before coming this way. Often, we are troubleshooting specific issues found in the program to determine a cause and implement a fix. Much of what we do involves the code and data behind-the-scenes. Every day can pose a new challenge which is exactly what I wanted out of my job."
Chris' manager, Matthew Poole added:
“I was initially introduced to Chris when Charlie Grant requested Dom Keegan and I to work on 1st Line Support for a day. I will always remember the first thing I taught Chris… 'The cost price recalculates at dispatch'. Coming back into Support, I was delighted to see Chris has been promoted to the 2nd Line Bridge team and made such an impact with his skill set, he was moved to 3rd Line Support.
Chris has established himself in the team as someone who is always willing to provide support to his colleagues which is always great to see. Over the years, I've witnessed Chris's remarkable growth, progressing from 1st Line to 3rd Line support. It's truly inspiring to see how much you've achieved in just five years. I can only imagine the level of success you will reach in the next five years! Congratulations, Chris, on your impressive journey so far!"