Feature

IT personality of the year

Systems administrator Paddy Tyrer of Sentinel Housing Group has been named Computer Weekly's IT personality of the year, writes Nathalie Towner.

When Xtra! announced this year's competition, we received mountains of nominations from IT departments around the country. We made it clear that we were not looking for the next Bill Gates but to reward an IT professional at the sharp-end, someone who makes a real contribution to the team and is instrumental in keeping everyone's enthusiasm going.

Tyrer was nominated without his knowledge by Sentinel Housing's IS manager Pete Davis and network manager Steve Bates. "He has an amazing sense of humour and nothing is ever too much trouble for him," says Davis.

The IT team felt that Tyrer's witty e-mails and kind nature were sure to make him a strong contender for the title. "He never gets upset with a user, he would never make them feel small," explains Davis.

Tyrer used to work in the airline industry, first as a member of the cabin crew and then as a customer service trainer. "When we recruited him he was up against people from a far more technical background, but his personality and enthusiasm won it for him." says Bates.

Tyrer's managers believe his past experience has made Tyrer the ITer he is today. "I have never known him not to take responsibility, you can tell he is from a customer services background because he is so good with people," says Davis. "The 15 remote sites we service and the user community just love him."

Tyrer's e-mails have gained him notoriety around the business for turning a routine work e-mail into a source of amusement. "It is just typical to send him an e-mail on some mundane matter and within a few moments get back two paragraphs of spontaneous humour," says Davis.

However, Davis says Tyrer has been a shrinking violet since he found out about the competition. Fortunately, he was persuaded to talk about his winning ways.

"I send out fun e-mails just to amuse people - when you're dealing with Unix you need some light relief," he says.

Explaining what he enjoys about his job, Tyrer says,

"I want to work with people. I wouldn't want a job where I was hidden away, a good working environment for me is relaxed and fun, with people who are easy to work with."

What people said about Paddy Tyrer

His colleagues
"Paddy always has a smile on his face and knows exactly what to say to brighten up the day. He never makes a user feel like the problem is their fault, even if it is!"

"Paddy is extremely willing to help others in his helpdesk role, diverting calls to his mobile when he is on the go so that the users always get a familiar voice and, in his private life, running this year's London Marathon for charity."

His company's Human resources department (one of his users)
"Paddy is what is known in the HR trade as a Greek temple - the original role model. If you imagine a Greek temple, Paddy is one of the pillars holding up the organisation. He is well known in HR for his humorous literary work, which he fires off in occasional e-mails. They highlight his ability to lighten the mood when the workload is dragging everyone down."

The judges: Anne Cantelo, E-Skills UK
"Paddy has more than one nomination. The comments sent in by his clients as well as his colleagues speak volumes. He is clearly a popular and positive personality. One of my colleagues suggested that the guy appears to be a saint. Systems admin is not an easy job, and I think to have positive responses from customers, team and HR means that this guy really knows how to build relationships."

The judges: Kevin Wayt, Chief Operating Officer, First Option
"Paddy's colleagues not only value his technological capabilities, but also his sense of humour, which appears to be known and recognised throughout the company.

"Paddy not only came across as conscientious and caring to his colleagues' needs, but someone who is fun-loving and very motivational to the people around him.
"Such praise from the HR department proves that Paddy is an individual of character and strength with diverse talents that enable him to meet the challenges faced in his job, as well as being able to achieve a work/life balance, which has developed strong relations with both colleagues and customers."

The judges: Natasha Clarke, Pathway IT Resourcing
"He sounds like a lot of fun to have around."

What does he win?
Courtesy of Computer Weekly and travel booking agent First Option, Tyrer has won two return flights to Amsterdam and two nights in a four-star Hilton hotel.

The best of the rest: the judges' shortlist
  • David Hart, programmer, Conservative Central Office

  • Bryan Seeds, corporate infrastructure manager, Dara

  • Gary Simpson, Sycop programme manager, South Yorkshire Communities Online Project

  • Sheralie Smith, European planner, Energis Squared

  • Paul Southern, software architect, Intersoftware

  • Karen Stewart, project leader, GeoLogistics

  • David Treadgold, Incepta

  • Nigel West, IS project manager, HJ Heinz

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This was first published in July 2002

 

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