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Finding the right Spark in Life
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Finding the right Spark in Life

To commemorate International Women’s Day in March, Network ROI asked our Finance Manager Magda Dabrowska about her career to date and her positive experiences during ‘lockdown’ life.

Embracing the chance to live and work abroad

Magda said: “It was hard leaving Poland sixteen years ago to come to work in Scotland. I had to learn another language and embrace another culture. So, it was difficult having to start my career again”.

Magda described how Scotland made her feel at home: “In Edinburgh, the historic buildings are like Wroclaw where I grew up.

The people are very friendly in Scotland and working for Network ROI everyone I met is very genuine and sincere, it’s like being part of a big family”.

Working within Finance

Magda described how she has always wanted to work in finance “I fell in love with finance when I got the chance to work in accounts in a kilt hire company a few years ago. So, I knew from that moment then that’s the career I wanted to follow.”

Magda is studying for the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Institute) qualification. Magda describes what drives her when she said: “Studying and working full-time requires a lot of perseverance and hard work.”

I enjoy learning new things, analysing problems, and coming up with solutions. Network ROI has really supported me in my studies, but it also requires a lot of self-discipline from me.

Finding the ‘Spark’ that makes us happy

Lockdown has been tough for everyone this past year, but Magda found that her dog Sparky, a border collie, helped get her through the tough times. She said: “Although I miss seeing people I have enjoyed being at home with my dog. It also benefits my mental health by making me feel better if I go on a lunchtime or evening walk to relax. Even when the weather is bad it gets me out and chatting to others in my neighbourhood.”

Magda explained

I love walking in nature, and I have even taken up landscape painting as a new hobby to help me relax. If I exercise at home or walk the dog it gives me energy. During tough times it’s good to keep your spirits up and find something you enjoy doing when you are not working.

Network ROI

Network ROI has diversity as one of its core values. We have a strong culture of inclusion embrace diversity in all its forms. We want all our employees to feel valued, appreciated, and free to be who they are at work. It is our uniqueness that binds us together and ensures the diverse voices of our employees fuels innovation for our clients.

Network ROI are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you practical feedback on your goals, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

Contact Us if you would like more information on our services.

Bringing a little sunshine into people’s lives
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Bringing a little sunshine into people’s lives

Pete Gower, a service desk engineer with Network ROI talks about his charity work during the coronavirus pandemic in Wigan, what inspires him at work, and what it’s like working for an employee-owned company remotely.

The two most important tools are not in your toolbox, they are your eyes and ears.

“In my role, I need to both listen to what a client has to say and see what’s happening on the ground, to get the background to their challenges. Then I can evaluate the situation and make plans to improve their IT”.

Starting Out

Pete said he was first interested in technology and more widely how things worked through his father, who was an electrician. He used to go with him when he was young, pushing his tools around in a pram. Pete then followed in his footsteps and became an electrician working in a food production company and then a theatre company working on stage lighting and sound. Pete said:

I love problem-solving and fixing things, if I see a problem, I look for a solution.

Helping people get on in Life

Before working at Network ROI Pete describes how he ran his own training company:

I enjoyed giving IT skills to people that didn’t have any or helping the long term unemployed develop their skills to get them back into the workforce.

“I used to train homeless people and would ask them to let me know how they got on after the training. One day I had a knock at the door after running a course and it was a young couple that I had trained three weeks earlier. They were there to tell me they had moved into a house and got their life back on track. It was very emotional to see them improve their lives.”

But due to austerity cutbacks, Council funding became scarce, so Pete left his role running his own training company and jumped at the chance to work for Network ROI, covering the North West of England.

In his role with Network ROI, Pete enjoys mentoring a young apprentice called Michael Wilkinson. He said:

I like to see young people get on in life, it’s great to see an enthusiastic young man make a start on their career.

“Many times, they just need a little coaching to make a start on their career path. As I said to my students, the most stupid question is the one you never ask, so you can ask me anything.”

Working in an employee-owned company

Being employee-owned, there is no ‘them and us’ culture.

Pete enjoys the variety in his work dealing with clients in the charity, health and safety, and veterinary sectors. He said “I try to be adaptable to our clients’ needs, but I have learned over the years the most important thing is talking to the client. I love dealing with high priority incidents as you get real pleasure when you can get a site back up and running.”

Pete describes what it’s like working for an employee-owned IT company: “Being employee-owned, there is no ‘them and us’ culture. Despite working remotely, we have an open-door policy where you can talk to anybody. We get to chat to our senior leadership team and board on a regular basis, there is not many companies I have worked for where you can do that. So, you get core insights into how the company is doing on a regular basis, you know where your piece fits in that jigsaw and what’s expected of you.”

Pete went onto say: “The company has a big focus on training and enabling their employees to grow, as well as being empathetic. Last year I was in hospital for a few days and the support I got was fantastic, just asking how I was made a big difference, never mind the lovely flowers.”

We are not just a team, it’s like one big family.

Giving Back

Sunshine House helped me in setting up my business, so it’s great to give back

Pete is passionate about his role as Chairman of the board of trustees Sunshine House a community centre charity in Wigan. The charity supports the local area in various ways including delivering food to vulnerable community members. Pete said “During lockdowns in the pandemic we have lost 95% of our income. But that hasn’t stopped us from helping those in need, including people self-isolating. I am proud of the fact that we are supporting the local community by delivering food to vulnerable people. We are now up to 40 meals a day and on New Year’s Day we delivered 90 meals.”

“I started out helping the community centre by teaching people about computers and they helped me make a start in setting up my own business. So, it’s great to give back, recently I helped upgrade their IT system to Office 365, taught them how to use Microsoft Teams to keep people connected during the pandemic, and on a practical level, love helping them by delivering meals on a Sunday with my wife.”

Full Steam Ahead  

Pete has a love for smart technology and has made his home a smart home, where even the Christmas tree lights were operated remotely. Pete’s other love is model railways, which also came from his father who took him to mend locomotives at a railway yard from a young age. Pete said: “I started a lockdown project to build a model railway, which I’ve wanted to do for ages. I can see it taking a while but it’s a multi-faceted hobby, as it combines my love of electrics with craftsmanship, so it’s a relaxing way to spend an hour or two. Oh, and it has to be computer-controlled.”

Network ROI

At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

Striking the right note
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Striking the right note

Josh O’Brien, a field engineer with Network ROI discusses working during a pandemic, his love of music, his start in IT, and the expertise he has built up in his career.

As an engineer, I love working against the clock on conversion projects, they are like a giant jigsaw puzzle at the beginning, but with a robust plan followed by effective implementation and testing you get great satisfaction from completing a project end to end for a customer.

Starting Out

Josh said he has been interested in computers from a young age and was motivated by an uncle to start a career in technology. Josh started out with Network ROI in 2012 on the helpdesk based near Edinburgh when he was nineteen and added: “I learned a lot by shadowing experienced members of staff such as Neil Douglas, Alastair Hoey and Greig Mackenzie. After 3 years I left Network ROI to move to Wrexham in Wales in 2015, so I was delighted to rejoin Network ROI as a field engineer in 2017 when a new role for a field engineer came up.”

Adapting to a new norm

In the first lockdown, in March 2020, Josh helped his biggest client, a large veterinary group, get 300 emergency laptops up and running throughout the UK in less than 3 weeks.  Josh then helped vet practices adapt to new social distancing protocols, such as having IT equipment in different locations, using tablets, or supporting virtual consulting.

As the first lockdown eased more conversion projects got up and running, this included a new Veterinary Hospital for Woodcroft vets, in Greater Manchester, which Josh helped lead. The project required over 40 computers and has 12 consultation rooms, that all needed to be kitted out. Over the years Josh has gained a lot of expertise in onboarding new Vet practices “I have now worked across over 100 sites, from small buildings through to state-of-the-art hospitals, so the team is now highly skilled in managing these new IT Infrastructure projects. We have systemized our approach. We gather information and plan on day one including site surveys and telephony, then ensure that core software such as Robovet is up and running or other hardware such as X-ray or blood analysis machines work properly, finally on day three we troubleshoot issues, making sure everything works as it should”.

Josh explained that communication is the key when he does project work for the veterinary industry: “We need to work around people. Before we start work it’s important to ask people how they feel about their IT systems and find out the issues.  If we are doing a new fit-out, we would do the work when there are fewer appointments.  If we are doing a site survey, where we need access to every part of a building, we might start with a key room, such as an operating theatre, when it’s quiet in case an emergency comes through the door and the vets need quick access”.

Josh describes what motives him:

When I see a poor running system that makes people unhappy, I get a great buzz out of solving the issues and making it work more efficiently.

Playing in a band

Josh’s other big passion is music, where he plays in a band called the Cazales. The band name was inspired by John Cazale who starred in movies such as the godfather. Josh said: “for me technology and music cross paths, technology is a big help to me playing in a band and I couldn’t write nearly as much music without it”.  See a video of the Cazale’s released during the lockdown, put together by Josh.

Mental Health and Well-being during the pandemic  

A smart person said never let a crisis go to waste and like many others, Josh took up running to improve his fitness and mental well-being. As a recent father, he finds ways to fit his runs in, whether it’s running last thing at night or first thing in the morning. Josh described how running makes him feel better: “even when I am tired from a long day or I am about to start my day I always feel more alive having got a run in, it makes me feel more organised in my mind”.  Josh now runs 40-50KM a week and likes to track his progress using a run tracking app.

Josh misses playing music with his band, he especially misses performing at the weekend in various UK towns and cities, “I miss performing at live music events, that’s my happy place, but at the moment I will need to make do with listening to music on the way to clients or writing more songs when I have time”.

Network ROI

At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

ITIL Specialist reunites with Network ROI
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ITIL Specialist reunites with Network ROI

Richard Smith has been appointed the Service Delivery Manager for Network ROI. He previously worked at Network ROI as the Client Services Manager.

He brings 35 years’ experience from a career in information technology, having worked in many large corporates including Royal London, Unisys, Scottish Provident, Edinburgh Airport, Murray Group, Lloyds, RBS, Clydesdale Bank and Virgin Money.

Richard said “I join Network ROI at an exciting time, with the chance to help develop and shape the companies service delivery management. As an employee-owned business, I have the opportunity to positively influence the company’s future direction, be part of the decision making and mentor colleagues in the service desk team.”

Keith Bevan, CEO, said “Our clients are the heart of our business, so this role represents one of our most important core activities, where the ITIL framework helps shape our data-driven decision-making business model and gives our customers the peace of mind that we are committed to delivering exceptional service standards. Richard brings not only a deep understanding of best practice but a key understanding of how this can be applied to our diverse UK client base.”

Defy Your Limitations
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Defy Your Limitations

Lucy Ashton talks about her biggest life challenges, the importance of employee wellness, how she boosted her self-confidence, and how employee ownership is evolving at Network ROI.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all

The unexpected death of Lucy’s brother Martin aged just 50, in May this year was devastating. On Martin’s woodland grave the quote reads;

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all

The quote symbolises how he led his life, and how Lucy wants to follow in his footsteps.  It made Lucy release how precious time is and hearing about all the adventures Martin did during his life inspired Lucy to make a bucket list of all the things she would like to achieve in the coming years.

Overcoming her fears

After having children Lucy began suffering with severe anxiety and depression leading to a lack of confidence. This included fear of loud noises, busy environments or simply being out of the house.  She was eventually diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and openly tells people about her struggles in the hope to put an end to the stigma.

Eight years ago, she found a passion that helped her deal with her anxiety head-on, that was the day she joined Crossfit Teesside. A local box (that’s what Crossfit gyms are called) where you lift heavyweights in a noisy, busy, open environment, all her worst fears!

After speaking with the Head Coach Lee and working through a private “On-Ramp” induction course Lucy’s confidence grew. At Crossfit, no two days are the same and it is now a part of her daily life. She has even managed to compete in the stadium alongside hundreds of other competitors due to the confidence she’s gained from Crossfit

Lucy describes the experience

At first it was a bit overwhelming, but over time being a Crossfitter has helped me mentally focus and overcome my fears, competing really helped me come out of my shell and build up my self-confidence, but the support and community are what keeps me going back every day.

If an opportunity comes along, say yes to it!

Defy Your Limitations is Crossfit Teesside’s motto and has become emblematic of the way Lucy now lives her life. She even has it tattooed on her body along with the Crossfit Teesside logo! Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Lucy has wasted no time in achieving some of the goals she set herself for 2020. She started the year by aiming to do her first duathlon which was a 2-mile run, 10-mile cycle, 2-mile run. She then decided to join one of her training partners doing a half marathon indoor row. After spending every day in lockdown walking and running she decided to run/walk/hobble a marathon distance along the Cleveland Way with her daughter. Wanting to put all that training to good use and to do something that her brother had wanted to do, she has now signed up to do an Ultra Marathon, that’s 100k round the Lake District next year in one day!

The importance of Employee Wellness

Another passion of Lucy’s is her role as a Wellness Coach at Weight Watchers.  Lucy explains how she motivates her members;

I believe anyone can exercise, young or old, fit or unfit. Losing weight is about building healthy habits for life, with no foods being off-limits. Even during the lockdown, it’s important people get out. I told my class that this week’s challenge was to go for a walk and get wet in the rain, your skin’s waterproof after all!.

Lucy Ashton joined Network ROI 14 months ago to work as our HR administrator.  Her role was initially to maintain our personnel database but now it has evolved into being much more people focussed. Lucy explained what she enjoys most about her role “I am a people person, even when we are working remotely and not in offices it’s important to talk to people, get to know your colleagues, and build rapport. At Weight Watchers I love interviewing people and peeling back the layers to get to the heart of what motivates them,” this is a skill she is putting to good use when chatting to the Network ROI remote workforce, “I feel Network ROI, being employee-owned genuinely cares about employee wellness. I like to think I am approachable, and people can talk to me about anything in confidence. I like the fact that we have an open-door policy, even when that open door is a Teams call on video these days”.

What makes Network ROI different from other companies?

Lucy feels Network ROI is evolving “I feel the senior management team are very approachable, no question is too daft to ask. I see how hard everyone works, going above and beyond for our clients, this makes me want to do more in my role. For me it’s about making people’s lives easier, whether that’s developing a “working from home” checklist, building improved HR procedures, creating a smooth induction process for new employees, or helping build useful information into our HR portal.  I love being busy and it’s great to have variety in my role”.

Overcoming daily challenges

Lucy explained that she is a big believer in positive energy and tries to go to bed thinking about three positive things that have happened that day. Lucy laughed when asked one thing that she hadn’t shared with her colleagues;

Fitness is part of my life, I work out before and after work, five days a week and I am proud of the fact that I can lift my own body weight above my head. But although I am focussed on healthy living, I don’t like fruit and veg, it’s something I need to push myself to eat every day.

Network ROI

At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

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