ICT knowledge has proved the key both to a successful career and travel for Leeanne Charteris. After a hesitant start to fulfilling her goal of getting into an IT career, she is now in charge of the New Zealand computer network at food company Arnotts Campbells. Charteris works within the finance division and reports to the financial controller — a useful discipline, she says, as it means any discussions have to be phrased in commercial, non-technical terms.
Charteris was determined to get into IT since high school, but despite further training found it difficult to make inroads into the field — belying the common picture of an industry drastically short of staff and keen to snap up recruits.
After initial disappointment in New Zealand, “I travelled to Australia as I believed there would be more opportunity and better prospects of success, as well as starting my plans to travel,” she says. “I was also looking at further ways to improve my training and Australia at the time seemed to have more to offer.” She had completed a diploma in IT from the Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua but this seemed to carry little weight in finding a position. Basing herself in Perth, Western Australia, she joined the Express IT programme, provided by Excom Education. The chief attraction was the guarantee of a job at the end of the course.
Before completing the programme she secured a role on a service desk working for an Australian arm of a multinational IT company. There she honed her support skills and these equipped her well for her present role. The work in Perth also provided “background experience for understanding the finance aspects of the IT industry”, she says.
She then moved to Sydney, “to look for further challenging experiences”. Within days, she was offered a number of IT jobs. “Based on feedback from a friend, I took on an IT role with Arnott’s in Sydney.” After about four months in this role, an opportunity came up to provide the IT support services for the New Zealand part of the business. She saw it both as a chance to advance her career further with a sole-charge position and to return home.
Besides running a network supporting 40 staff in the Auckland office and 25 field staff, Charteris liaises with the Australian and US ICT staff at Arnott’s Campbell in dealing with ICT challenges there. As well, development and testing services are provided for new projects, particularly with the SAP and BPics ERP systems.
Among recent upgrades, the company has increased the number of BlackBerrys and wireless cards. These “assist greatly in being able to stay in contact assisting the delivery of service,” but impose more responsibility on the one-person network department, she says.
Her current challenge is “understanding the business and finance aspects of the role”.
“While support functions were easily learnt,” she says, “having a wider understanding of the role finance plays in the overall provision of IT to a company, as opposed to just being involved in providing support assistance” is important.
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