From Internal IT to External Consultancy: A Unique Perspective

Higher Education IT Consultant

A few months ago, 4C Strategies welcomed Lee Rose to its team of expert IT and UC consultants. Lee joins us as a Director and Principal Consultant, with years of experience working internally in IT infrastructure and operations roles. Now that a few months have passed and he has settled in to his new role, Lee reflects on his move from internal IT to external consultancy, including the unique perspective that has been gained from working on both sides of this exchange.

A Personal and Professional Update

A few months ago, I was presented with an opportunity to take up a change of career path, to give up what I have been doing for a very long time (leading IT Infrastructure and Operations teams in various roles and organisations) and to branch off in a new direction – consultancy. At this point I can hear sharp intakes of breath; I can imagine raised eyebrows and perhaps questions, such as “Why consultancy?”

After much deliberation, I decided to take the role. I’ve now been working with 4C Strategies for several months. I am very much the newcomer to the team, but I’m also the guy that’s bringing in 25 years of experience working across Higher Education (with a smattering of Social Housing), from very junior to very senior roles. There isn’t much that I haven’t experienced in that time.

Changing tech trends, centralisation, decentralisation, Library in / Library out, politics (internal and external), budgets expanded / budgets contracted, major incidents / minor incidents, security breaches, restructure (de-structure), redevelopment, building moves, new builds, building add-ons (partitions go up, partitions come down), and so on. Increased student fees, higher demand for services and solutions and expectation levels as we’ve never seen them before (and rightly so). The list is endless and is in fact eve- changing, as the past 15 months have shown us. Just like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates “you never know what you’re going to get”. Enter pandemic stage right!

Both Sides of the Coin

I now find myself in a unique position, in that I can bring that alternate perspective into play in my role as a consultant. Ask anyone why they work in HE and I would wager that most would say it’s because of the students. If it were social housing it would be the residents, or NHS the patients. It is about creating, delivering, and developing services which affect a positive outcome on the people they are meant for. And it is about the people that deliver the services, from the CIO pulling the strings at the top to the IT technician supporting a service locally, everyone has a part to play, even sometimes if they can’t see quite how the work they do connects with or benefits their users.

Why 4C Strategies?

These are aspects that are important to me as an individual and are inherent within the genetic makeup of 4C Strategies, otherwise I would never have undergone this complete change in my career direction in order to join them! 4C Strategies’ USP is built on some very specific principals, and ones which I align myself to.

Firstly, when we take on an engagement, we will always do so with the client in mind and, most importantly, the end users, and the outcomes of the work that we are delivering.

Secondly, we do so in partnership with our clients. It’s important to us to get to know the people we are working with, as to really get a feel for exactly what it is they are trying to achieve, and their expected outcomes.

Thirdly, we are completely agnostic and totally vendor, solution, and supplier neutral, and will never come into any engagement with a preconception of what we will propose.

Last but not least, our experience is built on two decades spent successfully delivering services to our clients and building strong and long-lasting relationships, with much of our work coming in via recommendation. Our reputation and that of our clients is of paramount importance and we will never do anything to compromise it. Our clients’ values, aims and ambitions are as important to us as they are to them.

My Perspective on the Future of Technology in Higher Education

4C Strategies is well placed to support organisations across several sectors and particularly (but not specifically) Higher Education. We are highly aware of the challenges ahead, the burning issues, and the hot topics, and we are here to provide as much help and support as required. The pandemic this past year has, as we are all eminently aware, been a game-changer and everyone is, has, or will be adapting the way in which they deliver their services and support their users today and, in the future, likely with a weather eye on creating a service which can adapt to any situation.

If your organisation was fully, or even partially, prepared to cope with the pandemic, I will doff my proverbial (and virtual) hat to you and say very well done! Your foresight and readiness to cope with supporting your teams and your users in transitioning to very new and very different ways of working have been exceptional. But for most of us, these past fifteen months have led us to rapidly change the way we work, spinning on a sixpence to support entire workforces in delivering services from home, and quite frankly it has been phenomenal to behold. A study released in December 2020 espoused that technology advanced by seven years in less than 12 months, as organisations clambered to deal with the pandemic and its operational repercussions.

One thing that is certain is that there is no certainty for the future. All of us will have to adapt and evolve constantly and consistently in order to support our services and keep doing a fantastic job of supporting our clients, users, students, staff, patients and so on, as effectively and efficiently as we have all done for many years. It will certainly make long-range planning a tad more difficult, and we will have to be more ‘agile’ and ‘flexible’ in our approach. I also predict that the term ‘hybrid’ is one which is likely here to stay.

My Conclusion

I’m not a salesman. I come ‘from the tools’ way back in the day, working my way up through pretty much all the roles you can find in an IT infrastructure environment, so giving you the classic ‘sales banter’ simply isn’t in my nature.

What I do have is an innate understanding of the challenges you/we are all facing, as do my colleagues at 4C Strategies, and we are here to help in any way we can. Whether working with you to define strategies to navigate our uncertain future, guiding you through the adoption of Unified Communications solutions, development of digital solutions, implementing hybrid ways of working, designing infrastructure solutions, navigating you through the choppy waters of procurement, or developing smart environments capable of engaging with users in new, innovative, and creative ways, 4C Strategies can bring the breadth of its knowledge and experience to bear.

I may still be the newbie and getting used to life as a consultant, but I’m fortunate to have my very unique ‘both sides of the fence’ perspective to call on, which will prove invaluable in engaging with our current, prospective, and future clients as we progress during coming weeks, months, and years.

If you would like to discuss any projects or developments you may be considering which we can assist with, please drop me a message, or contact 4C Strategies on 01858 438938 or webenquiries@4c.co.uk.