Flying high for careers week

27 February 2020

We talk to Mark Bardsley, Transformation Programme IT Executive at Manchester Airport Group, about his career path in IT, from academia to a typical day in his current role.

How did you get your job?

I was promoted into my current role of IT Executive on the Manchester Airport Transformation Programme having successfully fulfilled numerous roles within MAG, including Software Development Manager and IT Application Programme & Portfolio Manager.

This role was the next logical step in my career, providing me with an opportunity to deliver IT infrastructure and applications that will serve Manchester Airport for the next decade and beyond.

During my time at MAG I have delivered many projects including a car park control system, a traffic management system, new websites for the Group, a new e-commerce trading platform, Group migration to Windows 10 and Office 365, IT Service Management software, software and systems for security screening, a video analytics security solution, infrastructure to support airfield radio communications – to name but a few!

What’s a typical day like for you?

No two days are ever the same! A typical day will start with me meeting my team and third-party suppliers to discuss project progress and any concerns that they may need my support in resolving.

Any spare time I have (!) is spent:

·       ensuring that all technology my team are delivering is done so in a manner that allows me to transition the new systems and services into the live operational environment

·       reporting schedule and commercial performance to my Directors

·       planning for future projects, ensuring that scope and resource requirements are fully understood, and that emerging technologies are given appropriate consideration

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the diverse technologies that my team are delivering for the transformation programme. I can’t think of any other job that would present me with the opportunity to be involved in the delivery of technologies, ranging from airfield telecommunications and aircraft airbridges, to the latest generation security screening equipment.

I get a real buzz from delivering technology and solutions that truly change the working lives of my operational colleagues and enhances the experience of our guests (customers/passengers).

Having a keen interest in aviation, I enjoy the opportunities my role presents me with to get closer to key operational areas of the airport, including check-in, outbound security, X-ray screening, airfield operations, and of course the aircraft themselves!

What are the challenges?

The key challenges I face in my role include:

·       keeping pace with new and emerging technologies, making sure that future proofed, scalable and resilient solutions are delivered for the airport

·       delivering IT transformation into a legacy estate, ensuring that live operations suffer no unplanned outages. It’s critical that aircraft continue to take off and land as we build the new terminal right next to them!

·       staying one step ahead of cyber-criminals, delivering secure IT solutions that are protected from malicious attacks

In what way is your academic background/ work experience relevant?

I studied mathematics and science during my GCSEs and A levels, both of which entailed learning about algorithms, logic, patterns, problem solving etc, all of which can be carried forward into a career in IT.

My undergraduate degree in Business Information & Technology gave me a sound understanding of how information technology and information systems are applied in organisations, the value that they deliver and how technology can be applied to provide competitive advantage. It also gave me my first opportunity in software programming and project management – a path that my career has followed ever since.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My role has developed and grown significantly during the 12 years I’ve been at MAG. I joined MAG in 2008 as a Project Manager, responsible for delivering one or two projects at any given time. In my current role, I have a team of Project Managers who are responsible for 20 + projects.

The next logical step in my IT career is to move into a Programme Director or IT Director role, ie a role where I have responsibility for defining organisational structures, creating and executing strategies as well as managing programme and departmental budgets.

How do I get into a similar career?

I got into my current role at Manchester Airport by:

·       learning all aspects of software / business application development and implementation, eg requirements analysis, design, build, testing, implementation and ongoing support

·       consistently being the best you can be and being resourceful & innovative to achieve your goals

·       never being afraid to take on stretch opportunities, take risks and constantly challenge yourself to learn, develop and evolve as an IT professional

Why is it important to raise awareness of careers in computer science (or which use computing technology) for young people?

Technology is evolving at a tremendous pace and the future has the potential to change the world in which we live through technologies ranging from self-driving vehicles, living robots, virtual reality to human augmentation.

All of this presents a very exciting and bright future for careers in computer science and computing technology.

More about Manchester Airport:

Manchester Airport is the UK’s global gateway in the North. It is:

·       the largest airport outside London, welcoming 29 million passengers each year with over 210 destinations served by 70 airlines

·       with its prime location, Manchester Airport is within a two-hour drive time of 22 million people and 60% of all UK businesses