IT Superheroes: Meet the finalists

Watched the candidates' video pitches, but still can't make up your mind? You can find out more about each of our six IT superhero finalists here. Then you can watch the videos again, or go straight to the Firebrand site to place your votes.

Watched the candidates' video pitches, but still can't make up your mind? You can find out more about each of our six IT superhero finalists here, by reading through their written submissions on this page. Then you can watch the videos again, or go straight to the Firebrand site to place your votes.

Who's your favourite IT superhero? Read on to decide...

David Busby

What are your achievements in the IT industry?

David BusbyIt all started way back in the early 1990's when I was bought a 128k ZX spectrum for my birthday, along with a book that can only be described as the war and peace of BASIC. From there things progressed to tearing apart the family 133MMX, not playing DOOM in school and college and circumventing the local Sys admin restrictions was always fun. Despite the introduction of a new A-Level system and less than perfect results I found myself with an offer to join Stafford University on its HND (to Bsc) Computer science course, only for the LEA to lose all my records and refuse to pay any fees 12-months later.

Having self-taught myself PHP I then worked for a web development company, developing bespoke CMS systems and building Linux based servers. I then moved to take up the role of network administrator for a large distributions company. I was given £180k to spend on a new solution after several 70-hour weeks of analysis. Having also self-taught myself in the ways of SNMP, IDS, mrtg and Linux, I was able to draft a report.

From there I moved back into web development at a new company until disaster struck in September 06. The server host had "black holed" leaving no support lines and all servers offline. Stepping up I migrated the whole solution to a new service provider in under 24-hours, and we were back online. Then began the process of moving some 285 domains and thus began my full time systems administrator role. I remained in that position for over two years before moving largely due to the current financial climate.

Why are you passionate about IT and how do you show this?

I am adaptive, and apply myself vigorously to whatever I do, be it security, wireless analysis, software / web application development ... I seem to be doing it all, never fixed to one specific discipline.

Why should you be chosen as an IT Superhero?

I have shown that with determination even a largely self taught IT professional can apply themselves to do great things, I am even now able to spend time authoring and releasing Open Source tools, and maintain a blog as a resource to help others get into IT the same way I did.

Within four hours of starting with this new company as a "Media developer" (sys admin / client consultant / PHP / C++ developer) a potential client quoted:

"We’ve been really impressed by your incredibly professional approach to everything, and will definitely be using you guys as our first port of call for any future development work that comes up."

Andy Moore

What are your achievements in the IT industry?

Andy MooreMy career started out back in the "good old days" of IT, before the desktop was really invented and mainframes were programmed with cards. However, during my ten years with Ciba-Geigy Plc (now Ciba Specialty Chemicals), I achieved a number of things:

  1. Global rollout of IBM AS/400 mid-range computers
  2. Installed some of the early Cisco AGS+ routers (before Cisco was well known and Green) to provide Token Ring/Serial Bridges
  3. Managed the cable installation of a brand new building on the Macclesfield site (Ciba Geigy).

However, this run of good times came to a tearful end in 1996 when Ciba was purchased by Sandoz Chemicals, I then went to a reseller in Stockport, Cheshire.

One of my greatest achievements here was to take a 7Mio business and transform it into a 14Mio business, this involved hard work and dedication. The result was winning Network Reseller of the Year in 1998 for a Project we completed for Marie Curie Cancer Care, which involved a national rollout of Citrix/Shiva LANRover's to cut costs and make their carers mobile. This also involved an installation in Belfast (I have some stories about that place!).

Another achievement in more recent years was a security review for the Central Bank of Kuwait. This was a long and arduous project as the client worked long hours and R&R was of little reward due to the country being "dry"!

Why are you passionate about IT and how do you show this?

Why am I passionate about IT, the short answer? I don't know how to do anything else, the long answer is that I have firmly believed during my long career that IT is a fundamental part of everyday life - we drive it around for goodness sakes. I take great pleasure in finding out how something works, taking it apart and putting it back together and sometimes I am even fortunate enough to have no pieces left over!

I have a passion for learning new technology, applying the old and passing this knowledge on. I also enjoy having knowledge passed to me. A very good telecommunications engineer once said to me in the 80's "You might not know all the answers, but you know which page in the manual they're written on." This statement has formed the grounding for my approach to IT, both personally and professionally.

Why should you be chosen as an IT Superhero?

I am there when I am needed and there when I am not. People will testify that if I don't know the answer, I'll go find out and in the meantime will give pointers, "Share the Wealth," as they say.

I have worked long and hard over the last two decades to firmly establish myself in the IT industry as a font of knowledge with a wealth of expertise and wisdom. If I haven't seen it then, it probably doesn't exist!

Robert Howard

What are your achievements in the IT industry?

Robert HowardI have been in the IT industry for around 18 years. I have also run my own business for four years, giving small businesses a great service at a sensible price. I also passed my CCNA/CCDA last year with Firebrand, which was self-funded. My family had no holiday that year to cover the course and it was worth every penny.

I have worked hard in the IT industry for years to gain the knowledge and professionalism I have today.

Why are you passionate about IT and how do you show this?

I love IT and always have done, I spend most of my free time learning, testing and playing with new software and hardware when other men are down the pub.

I will always love IT and will keep learning and gaining more knowledge. It all started when I got my first Spectrum when I was a boy and it had me hooked.

Why should you be chosen as an IT Superhero?

I should be chosen as an IT hero as I am doing all this for my family, to better their lives - and to improve IT.

I would love to be the next Bill Gates and do as much for this industry as he has and more if I can.

Please pick me as your IT Superhero and I will stop the trojans attacking!

Toby Brown

What are your achievements in the IT industry?

Toby BrownRecently joined a company in a real mess, with three months to move to a new £20million office. Had to assess, stabilise, then move the IT infrastructure, then stabilise post move and now working on improvements.

Also run web and various bits in spare time, as well as running a successful supporters website that even gets me on TV and radio quite often! I moved to London when I was 18 and worked in stock market systems, then law, then digi marketing, then on my own. I now combine all skills learned and I’m always looking to learn more. Now about to roll out a new ERP system, 18 months behind schedule, by Dec 5th!

Why are you passionate about IT and how do you show this?

Everything relies on it. It's like the old joke about the bloke in the bar not wanting to talk politics, then realising that encompasses every subject! IT is the same now, it is so ingrained in all parts of life and it's potential is incredible, I try not to talk in boring terms, but enthusiastically about what we can do!

Why should you be chosen as an IT Superhero?

Because I'm not your typical IT guy and I have saved so many companies and helped many too. I have not been beaten by a project yet and every company I've worked for has been impressed with what I do. Job aside, I'm a mild mannered bl**dy nice bloke too, just no glasses to mask my real identity.

P.S. Pick me or I'll fly there and unplug your servers!

P.P.S. I wouldn't really, I'd only feel inclined to boot them up again.

Christopher John Lowden

What are your achievements in the IT industry?

Christopher John LowdenThe successful development and implementation of two totally independent IT projects during the last five and a half years in my current position. An electronic data interface between a hundred mobile Oracle inventory server systems and a static UK based asset tracking ingress server system saving thousands of man hours and swivel chair input action in the deployed environment.

Much more recently, a complete logistic systems deployment kit which brings together five independent IT systems onto a single laptop platform and packs into a single deployable rugged case with all its peripheral requirements. The storage case opens up into a complete mobile office with seat, desk, peripherals and an online guide to aid the successful configuration of the equipment set. The storage and transportation of the equipment set are a quarter of the original equipment requirements.

I have continued to study and improve my skill set attending IT training courses throughout this period of development and found the time to travel from Oxford to Staffs University Stoke-on-Trent Technology Campus one day a week to complete my part time Bsc (hons) in applied computing. So far I have achieved distinction and merit module passes and hope to complete the course later in 2009.

In 2006 I received a certificate signed by the Prime Minister of Australia for my efforts as the Team England Logistics Manager at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Why are you passionate about IT and how do you show this?

I love my Job working on Logistic IT systems because of the places it can take me and the interesting people it places me in contact with. These people can be anyone from Tony and Cherie Blair, top world-class athletes to primary school children in Pune India.

Not only do I give 101% of my time and ability to the Ministry of Defence but I also have a voluntary position as the Commonwealth Games Team England Logistics Manager which also takes me all over the world to different countries and cultures. I take on anything and everything they throw at me from transport, clothing to technical secure Wi-Fi connectivity problems. I have been trusted to repair top world-class athlete's personal laptops and data as well as fit them out with shorts and t-shirts. I love my Job so much; I recently turned down an IT contracting position with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which would have grossed over £8,000 a month in salary.

As a serving Warrant Officer in the military I earn less than half that amount currently however, job satisfaction feeds my passion for what I do currently and I don't want it to end.

Why should you be chosen as an IT Superhero?

I feel that my current position fits your IT "Superhero", especially when I'm on temporary duty in Afghanistan and Iraq setting up satellite communication links, repairing, upgrading existing equipment in the logistics role under mortar fire. In these harsh conditions I share my stories of when I was a physical training instructor with logistic troops and discuss army boxing, skiing, charity events, and expeditions we got to do from time to time, like cycling across America for sick children.

I explain, that because of what I do, it places me in positions such as having lunch with Tony and Cherie Blair at the Commonwealth Games, introducing England's top athletes and what difficulties we have had with logistics. This chit chat lifts their spirits and gives them the strength to continue with their jobs, knowing I do it because I enjoy it more than anything I've done previously. Logistic IT systems are essential for successful operations, and saving lives, humanitarian or war fighting. The supply chain would not be what it is today without IT and the "Geeks" that maintain it, every successful task leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. Is this the IT "Superhero" you're looking for?

Adam Spittles

What are your achievements in the IT industry?

Adam SpittlesMy qualifications include, a BSc Computer Science (hons) from University of Essex 2000/01, CompTia A+, N+, valid Cisco CCNA, CCNP Switching and CCNP ONT certifications.

Even though I graduated from a well-respected university in Computer Science, I struggled to get a job in IT due to the industry freeze post the September 11th 2001 tragedy. Therefore my IT life actually started in early 2004 as a desktop engineer for a company called ViewSonic Europe Ltd where I remained and excelled at for 2 years.

Before this I worked for an investment company called Fidelity Investments for the two years previous.

My current role is as a network engineer for an investment bank called Deutsche Bank in the centre of London, where our department, Network Operations, look after the core, firewalled and global backbone networks which stretch across the world.

I started this role having never logged onto a switch or a router and two years later my advice is personally being sought by the Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of DB Infrastructure Enterprise Services regarding processes and procedures for provisioning new devices such as application devices and servers.

I have found of late my reputation often proceeds me in my meetings with various managers and directors where I represent the DB Network Operations team.

Why are you passionate about IT and how do you show this?

When I was growing up, my father was a computer salesman in the age when computers were the up and coming thing and the Internet was in its infancy, so I had exposure to the industry from a very young age.

I used to watch with fascination as my father built computers for friends and family and often helped insert hard drives, memory sticks, ISA and E-ISA cards. Of course these were the days when hard drives were measured in a few Mb rather than several Gb as they are now.

From there I pursued my dream of working in IT studying anything I could that would assist in that dream becoming a reality. Unfortunately at the time, my school did not have an IT class or GCSE so I studied and passed Maths and Physics A-level as the next best thing whilst also completing a CLAIT and Integrated Business Technology evening class when I was 18.

In fact, so passionate was I about having a profession in IT, that when I saw my Computer Science degree was failing to get me a job in IT at Fidelity Investments, my first job from University, I actually resigned my position and worked part time in a gym and did an A+ and N+ part time course to give me the equivalence of "Hands-on Experience". Once I had passed those I was able to get my desktop role at ViewSonic Europe Ltd and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why should you be chosen as an IT Superhero?

If you wish to fight the stereotypical image of IT professionals being geeky, I believe my social and personal life outside of work will do this profoundly.

I am a black belt in a Korean Martial art called Kuk Sool Won and have many national tournament medals including sparring, weapons and empty hand forms.

I was the president of the Karate Club at the University of Essex between 2001/02 where I was also a member of the University Bowling team. I received a University award for my contribution to both clubs.

I studied Shao Lin Martial arts in the Wu Dang mountains in the JiLin province of China for 12 hours a day for several month spanning 2004/05.I am a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award holder and I have led the Croydon Open Duke of Edinburgh Award for youths in and around the Croydon area for several years now. This includes expedition training for 16 - 25 year olds, such as leading them on hikes in places such as Snowdonia and the Peak District.

I currently workout between five and 7seven times a week so I am at the peak of physical fitness and due to my twice weekly Kuk Sool sessions, I am still able to do various acrobat moves such as rolls, handsprings and somersaults.

My current favourite activity on top of all the above is to ride my brand new Honda version of a Harley Davidson at any opportunity I get!


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