Its a me, Mario!

It's a me, Mario!

Welcome one and all to two weeks with me Benjamin Nickolls (otherwise known as BenJam).This blog is part of the My BT Life recruitment project run here at BT. The idea is to give you an insight into the real day to day life of a graduate in BT. I’ll be using this blog to post about work, life and everything in between. I’ll also be using twitter over here and flickr over here to give you some undercover material.

I thought I’d kick off with a bit of a vanity post to bring y’all up to date on who I am, what I’ve been up to in BT and what I’m currently working on. If you’re really not interested then a) you may well be in the wrong place and b) you may well want to skip this post and move straight onto the next one.

So what am I all about? My standard ‘about me’ line goes something like ‘I’m all about high-fives and saying dude as much as humanly possible’ and though this remains true I have cut the high-fives down since leaving university. Still I the line does convey a lot about the sort of person I am; though my academic background may disuade you I am at heart a fun loving extreme sports junkie.

I grew up in Birmingham skateboarding from age 12 ’till I left for the University of Liverpool to study Computer Science in 2002, I left Liverpool with a first class degree and proceeded straight to Africa for a month only to return to a jobless desert of a city. Taking this in my stride I found a job as a Systems Migration Consultant at the NHS (for a heavily inflated salary) where I stayed for 9 months and proceeded to travel for 3 months from Mexico to Panama taking in every country between. I returned to Birmingham with a funded placement reserved to study a Masters Degree in Computer Security (my favourite part of undergrad was my dissertation on Cryptanalysis) at the University of Birmingham. A year later I left with a distinction and a place on the BT Graduate Scheme.

At this point I started to indelge myself in the cash-hungry sport of Snowboarding; picking up where I left off in 2002 with skateboarding (this was now 2007) I became able after two hours of practice and left for Slovenia for my first mountain experience. I’m currently looking at back-to-back holidays in Norway, France and later in Bulgaria for at least three weeks this season. Oh and I spent all my interest-free loan for joinign BT on a DSLR a purchase I’ve been wanting to make for about two years.

So that’s enough about personal life and onto the work side; as I mentioned I started working for BT in September 2007 as part fo the BT Design Graduate Programme. In the program we are placed on a rotational project scheme usually 6 months (though I’m currently on a 3 month ‘stint’). I took my first placement at the Network Integrity Centre in London looking at bringing the principles of Agile Delivery to Network Security and Integration Testing. I enjoyed my time and delivered a reporting engine based on the work of Phil Hawksworth from Osmosoft (a group of open-source developers based in Soho whom I’ve become good friends with).

I then moved to BT Group on secondment to work in research, having aspirations to continue my academic career in the future with a PhD I thoguht it would be the perfect opportunity to find out what corporate research was like. I worked on two projects; a open-source IP-based provate branch exchange called Callweaver and a proprietry piece of work involving power saving in IT (unfortunately I can’t talk much about that as it’s all patent pending). To be brutally honest I didnt enjoy my time in research, this was due in part to my long commute (BIrmingham to Ipswich or London depending on the day) and my dislike of the way research progresses. However I’ve learnt that I enjoy stressfull delivery commitments and shorter timescales which I have taken into my current role.

I’m currently IT Security Risk Manager for BT Design Global Platforms. I’m on a three month project in whcih time I must design and implement a management of risk process for 10% of the BT workforce. I’m based back in London (where I live) and am very much enjoying my day to day. I currently manage all risks in this area of Design and am a central point of contact for fifteen platforms from America, India, China and Europe which means I’m always on my toes. I’m looking to remain in the area after December (when my current project completes) with perhaps a sprinkling more technical requirement.

And that’s it really, you’re all up to date with me; what I’m about, what I enjoy and what I do day-to-day. The remainder of this blog will cover my thoughts on security, photography, snowboarding, open source and maybe ponderings on life in general.

Read on…


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