Profile: Christopher Thompson
Christopher is IT Director at University College, New College and Balliol College. In this profile, he discusses his career, falling 160 feet and MFA.
What did you do before you started working at Univ?
I have been working within the University since 2012. Before that, I was employed working within a flower shop, or at least that is what my family called it. I worked for e-Florist managing their IT system which enabled anyone to send flowers to pretty much anywhere in the world – and no I never was involved with floral design! Before that, I lived in Canada working in IT for a government agricultural agency working to control codling moth (an apple pest) using sterile insect release. I grew up on an apple orchard in southern British Columbia after my family moved to Canada from Ecuador (where I was born) when I was seven
How did you come to Univ?
Like most events in life, coming to Univ was being at the right place at the right time. I already was working for New College and Balliol College as ICT Director, when Univ joined our successful collaboration. Since then, we have built a data centre and have an excellent team to provide computing services to all three colleges.
What does your day-to-day life as an IT Director look like? How has the pandemic changed your experience?
I suppose the best part of this role is that every day is different, there is always a new challenge (although sometimes that feels like the worst part of the job too! ) There are a lot of plates that have to keep spinning in order to provide IT to three colleges. Having an excellent team in each college is key. So, in any given day I will usually try to be at least two of the three colleges, meeting with each team, going over the daily issues and priorities, and helping to fix things that have gone wrong. As well an IT Director will liaise with an even larger team of third-party suppliers and consultants that provide support to systems and devices that are relied upon to ensure that doors open, telephones ring, fridges stay cold, internet works, rooms are booked, conferences are planned, security is secure, invoices are paid, squash courts are reserved, and meals are booked. It keeps us out of trouble!
As far as computing during the pandemic. It never really stopped for us, every day was as busy as normal providing support to those setting up their home offices, to the academics moving to online teaching.
What is your proudest achievement (personal or professional)?
I am not sure if this counts as an achievement, but my daughter and I went bungee jumping at Whistler in Canada. We separately jumped off a bridge falling 160 feet into a canyon with a white-water river at the bottom. She was 8 at the time, and I was extremely proud of her. A couple of years later we went on to do a skydive over the east coast of Australia. A 14,000-foot jump over the Australian coast is something I would recommend to everyone.
Do you have any advice for students at Univ?
Ok, this will sound pretty boring, but as IT Director it has to be said – BACKUP, BACKUP BACKUP. Oh, and have at least 2 MFA choices…please!
Describe Univ in three words.
Excellence, Historical, Challenging
Published: 28 March 2022