Sam Selby

What Would Happen If?

What Would Happen If?

 

How often after an amazing meal in your favourite restaurant do you baulk from adding a tip electronically? The rationale is often that it gets subsumed into a wider tip pot and you’d prefer to hand some crisp clean banknotes to the chirpy and efficient server who has made your night so special. We habitually see the person or activity in front of us and forget that the delivery of an excellent meal is a long process involving many people, it is a team effort. What would happen if; the buyer failed to buy enough food, finance failed to pay the utility bill, the chef overcooked the veg or the plates weren’t cleaned. The simple answer is disaster would reign. The server on their own cannot deliver the service required. I fell into the trap of tipping the server directly very recently and was annoyed with myself afterwards because at work I take time to recognise the role everyone in the team plays when we deliver our project work. 

The Delt Project Management Office delivers a range of projects that allow our customers to excel. Our incredible project professionals at Delt support thousands of staff working in the NHS and Plymouth City Council, we are a vital enabler in helping staff do their jobs in GP surgeries, providing adult and children’s social care, in vaccination centres, in world class museums and in a wide range of local government activities. Our work is not always visible and after my recent restaurant experience it got me thinking…….what would happen if the Delt PMO didn’t deliver? 

When I think about just a handful of the projects that our teams have delivered, it’s awe inspiring to depict the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. The ‘stuff’ no one really accounts for or notices when visiting their GP or viewing an exhibition.  

Delt is blessed to be based in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City a jewel in Devon’s magnificent crown. In our city we have a stunning museum, The Box, which has recently undergone a £40M+ renovation.  

The City hosts a plethora of amazing events, most recently the British Sail Grand Prix. This race saw some of the most capable and technologically advanced sailing yachts in the world racing at speeds in excess of 60 knots, that’s nearly 70 mph!  

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic Devon CCG quickly implemented several vaccination centres in Plymouth and across Devon in pubs, leisure centres and even a car park. We also saw an increased number of GPs working from home and even the use of video consulting.   

The Delt PMO contributed to all the above and that represents a very small example of the work we do every year. In FY 21/22 Delt will deliver more than 500 projects. So, returning to my self-imposed question, what would happen if we didn’t deliver, apart from having some very angry customers and me losing my job! Well, looking at the few examples above, The Box would not be able to function. It would have no wi-fi, no website, no means of selling tickets, no CRM, no alarms on the display cases, no storage capability for the film and TV archive and meeting rooms deprived of AV equipment. The monetary value of our work was relatively low, but all our behind-the-scenes work is crucial to enabling day-to-day operations at this world class cultural attraction.  

The British Sail GP was broadcast live to a global TV audience showing the beauty of Plymouth Sound around the world. A broadcast that was enabled by Delt project managers and technical staff managing the installation of additional network capability on Plymouth Hoe and at Millbay Docks. Who’d have thought that without Delt’s project professionals millions of people might have missed seeing this spectacle live on their screens? 

Without the work of the Delt project managers the utility of some vaccination centres would have been limited, potentially without wi-fi and the IT equipment they needed to operate. And without our work doctors’ ability to work from home using any device, in a safe and secure manner, would have been hampered. 

Me losing my job would barely shift the Richter Scale compared to the other impacts that would be seen if the Delt PMO failed to deliver. I am in awe of my team who repeatedly, behind the scenes, deliver high-quality project work. Their first-class work has been acknowledged by the Association of Project Management who selected Delt as a finalist for their 2021 awards in the category contribution to project management small to medium enterprise.  

My message is simple, when you are celebrating your next big success don’t forget the chef in the kitchen, don’t forget the crucial work done by everyone and remember that every partner adds value.  

The lesson, acknowledge and tip the team, not just the individual! 

Gary Pettitt, Chief Project Officer

 

Photo by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash

Customer Newsletters

Customer Newsletters

It’s a reasonably common observation that our stakeholders don’t know about all the good work that Delt is doing. Given we deliver lots of different services, in multiple sectors, this isn’t really a surprise. Producing a bi-annual customer newsletter is one way we are trying to improve the understanding of what we are doing and where we are doing it.

To make the newsletter practical as well as communicative, each issue will contain guidance on avoiding some of the issues that most commonly require Delt support because better than us solving your problem quickly, is avoiding it in the first place.

We hope you find the newsletter useful and would very much welcome feedback on what else you might like to see.

The Stuff of Nightmares

The Stuff of Nightmares 

 

Ronald Reagan once said ‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’  

Whatever your politics, when the American government decides to spend $2B of taxpayers money on helping, it’s probably something important. In this case it’s cyber security. The Senate have now passed Joe Biden’s big infrastructure bill and assuming it makes its way back through the House largely unchanged – far from certain, it will see £1.9B being made available to secure national critical infrastructure, of which the majority will go to local government. 

Senator Maggie Hassan from my adopted home State of New Hampshire said: ‘A cyberattack on a state or local government network can put schools, electrical grids, and crucial services in jeopardy. Even though cyberattacks are becoming more and more common in today’s threat landscape, state and local governments often do not have the adequate resources to defend against them. This new grant program will be a crucial resource for state and local governments…’ 

Our public services have become utterly reliant on technology, which has (or should have) significantly increased speed and quality of service. It has also driven huge costs savings. I had a job in local government over 30 years ago in which not only did I not have a computer, but my boss nor bosses boss nor bosses bosses boss didn’t have one either. The only computer was in finance…. and I still got asked to help fix it.  

We have adopted all the benefits of technology and wilfully taken many of the operational savings, whilst complaining how expensive IT has got. In fairness I should note that we’ve also shouldered the burden of huge failed projects, projects that delivered late, or projects that cost far too much. That’s misery of the world of IT.  On balance though, I hope the benefits have significantly outweighed the disadvantages. 

The public sector in the UK is facing an unprecedented level of cyber threat. Almost as fast as you can close one door, somebody levers open another. For both the amateur and professional criminal alike, let alone sovereign states, the potential upside is huge and the downside pretty much negligible. If you held up a local government cash office (in the days when local government still handled cash) you’d likely be caught and go to prison for quite a long time. If you hold up a local authority now – as happened not so recently at Hackney and others, the odds are that whilst the authorities might be able to figure out who did it, they almost certainly won’t be brought to justice. There’s little incentive for the bad actors not to try. 

I don’t know what the UK government are spending on local government cyber defence but, the Hackney article referenced above suggests £50m. By head, of population, that’s about 75p a person. In contrast, the US investment, if approved, will be closer to £2.21 a person. I don’t know what the right number is, but having run headlong down the digital path, turning almost everything we do into 1’s and 0’s, spending appropriately to protect our ability to keep delivering public services in the face of a fast growing threat feels like exactly the sort of help you’d expect from government. Unless perhaps you are Ronald Reagan. 

Lest anyone think I’m suggesting the American way is better rather than simply different, let me restore some balance. With half my working life spent in the States, I’ve found a balanced view to be important. In the same infrastructure bill, the Senate have agreed to fund the Office of the White House National Cyber Director. That post was appointed in June but with no funding – no one will get everything right.  

Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer

 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

How can you make public Wi-Fi as safe as possible?

How can you make public Wi-Fi as safe as possible?

 

Having warned you off public wi-fi in a previous post, this post covers how to protect yourself if you do need to use it. 

Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi is still not to use it, enabling you to sidestep all the issues caused by not controlling the local network or the people on it. I would encourage anyone who spends a lot of time on these networks to investigate a large data plan for their mobile phone, or alternatively a “Mi-Fi” device that uses a SIM card. 

With that in mind, this post is written assuming that this is not an option.  

1. Practice mindfulness 

Not in the sense that you’ve probably heard the term more recently (though perhaps given there’s a need for it in this scenario, it doesn’t hurt to be thankful that there’s Wi-Fi available). Rather, be aware of what you’re doing on the network – if you don’t need to check your bank account, don’t. Some attacks don’t need to compromise your device, and instead will look for the traffic being sent on the network. Despite the encryption applied by many websites, it’s still possible to see the domain you’re using. For example, in normal use, it would be possible to view the domain of your bank’s website when you access it, even though the pages you view and data you send will be protected by that encryption. This would give a malicious party a foothold in terms of information about you, and they may in turn be able to combine this with other leaked information to carry out a comprehensive phish 

There are other challenges, especially with the use of apps, where security warnings and errors may be suppressed so that you don’t even know they’ve occurred. Some may hide that they don’t even encrypt the data at all!  

2. Use a VPN, if you can. 

VPNs are a game of trust – you’re effectively saying, “I would rather the operators of this VPN see my web traffic rather than the operators of the network I’m on”. With that in mind, I’d strongly emphasise you have some scepticism about VPN services that advertise heavily on YouTube or other social media. Ditto the services that advertise that they don’t log any traffic – they almost certainly do in one form or another, but it comes with the added bonus that you’re associating your activity with those of other people interested in a “no logs” service – which may not be what you want (and remember that you’ve probably tied your activity to “you” via a credit card or similar payment, so it’s much less private!). 

If you’re shopping for a VPN, I’d recommend looking at those offered by security companies (such as Antivirus vendors) who have been operating the service for a while and have a proven track record. Many of these will also make their own software available to make the connection process easier.  

To check the VPN is running as intended, access a service that tells you your IP (e.g. https://www.whatismyip.com/) – between the listed location and the ISP, this should give you an idea of whether you’re running traffic through it as it should tally up with the VPN you’re using if it’s working!   

Some operators of networks may actively block the use of VPNs – this may be a point to reconsider whether you want to use the network at all. 

3. Make sure your firewall is enabled 

This is a simple one – go into your security settings and check that your firewall is active. In Windows 10, you can search for “Windows Security” which will open this part of the Settings Menu. You’ll see your firewall status under “Firewall & network protection”. A green tick means you’re good to go – anything else means you need to look at what’s wrong.  

If you get asked what type of network, you’re on when you connect to Wi-Fi, pick “Public” for the highest security. 

Even if you use a VPN, your device will still be able to communicate with the local network (including other people trying to connect to your computer), so it’s important that you check the firewall is active.  

4. Check that your Antivirus is enabled and up to date 

This is more likely to protect you if someone is able to access your system or get you to click a link, but you never know what might happen – in Windows 10 you can check this in the same “Windows Security” menu, this time against the “Virus & threat protection. Green tick again should mean everything’s in a good state.  

5. Check other Windows 10 security features 

It’s well worth making sure you’re in a good place with the other security features in Windows 10 as well. Click into Account protection, App & browser control, and Device security to check that you’re aligned to the Microsoft recommended settings. These include settings like the ransomware protection that’s part of Windows 10 and will be as useful at home as they are on public Wi-Fi. 

6.Patch, patch, patch! 

Install updates for Windows and any applications you have installed! If you’re running woefully out of date software, it can be trivial for an attacker to use an exploit tool like Metasploit and gain access to your system from the same network – having your firewall and antivirus active will make this more difficult for them, but sometimes all it takes is one mistake.  

7. Think about whether you can justify changing your data plan or getting a separate “Mi-Fi” unit 

You had to use public Wi-Fi this time, and whilst I said this guide would be written from that perspective – do you need to do it next time? If you regularly need the access on the go I would strongly recommend getting yourself set up to do this in a way that helps protect you from the pitfalls of public Wi-Fi.  

And that’s it – basic steps you take to protect yourself and your data when you’re out about with the help of technology which is, in many cases, already available to you. 

For more general tips on how to protect your digital presence, check out NCSC’s Cyber Aware, which includes a set of questions you can answer for a personalised action plan.

Joseph Smith, IT Security Specialist  

 

Photo by Petter Lagson on Unsplash

How to stay connected in a Hybrid working world? 

How to stay connected in a Hybrid working world?  

  

One of the big, although possibly not yet seen, challenges of the next 6 months is going to be the move from mainly remote working to hybrid working. I think it is a great move in terms of work life balance and flexibility. A recent survey from Microsoft showed that staff want flexibility and remote working to stay (74%) alongside getting back to the office to work with their colleagues (67%) (the report put together by Microsoft has some interesting advice for leaders dealing with these questions if you want a read).   

All of this makes me wonder how businesses and staff tackle the challenges of a split workforce. How will buildings be setup to support this? How do you make someone feel included when they aren’t in the room? Does being productive whilst remote working mask burnout? Does the lack of impromptu office meetings make businesses more siloed than ever?  

Many of these questions are being debated and discussed by senior managers as we speak whilst they try to find a balance which works for their business and their staff. It is going to be an evolving culture but, in the meantime, I have included some of the points I think staff can consider when helping their move to hybrid working smoother.   

Understand how you work and what makes you productive   

As the option to work in the office opens, this is a good time to re-evaluate when and how you are the most productive. If you are like me, you tend to love being on your own when you are writing, researching or getting stuck into work but you struggle when you can’t bounce ideas off other people. By understanding that, sometimes, I need to see real people to re-energise myself and create my best ideas can help me plan when to stay home and when I may want a day or two in the office.   

Invest in time to socialise and connect to your colleagues   

As sending a quick chat message becomes the norm for getting answers from colleagues, the chats about daily life and sometimes the odd grumble begins to fade out. This isn’t good for mental health or working relationships. It has been found that during the pandemic people’s networks have reduced and they are speaking to less people outside of their close teams than ever before. This can make an organisation more siloed and out of touch with each other.   

I think there is a risk of this getting becoming a problem when people are working in the office or at home and there is nothing worse than feeling like you missed out on a conversation because you weren’t there (a huge case of office FOMO!). Prioritising personal relationships and even just those brief chats with people from other teams is a good way to help this. If you are a team manager, could you consider cross-team monthly meetups? Offer a mix of remote and in person meets with a good supply of biscuit and cakes to encourage attendance.   

Be inclusive no matter where the team is  

This one links nicely to the above and is something we will all need to try to do. It will be far too easy, when in the office, to forget about those who are not there in person, and it will start to feel very isolating for those feeling being left out or possibly feeling judged for being at home when others are in the office. Being mindful of inclusivity in our day-to-day work can really help with this.   

For example,   

  • Having an impromptu meeting about something with a colleague? How about seeing if others who may be able to input are available and quickly Teams call them in?  
  • Keep comms and all staff meetings online, this will help stop remote workers feeling out of the loop.   
  • Have a quick question for someone working remotely? Why not give them a ring and have a quick catch-up as well.   

My final thought is to remember that going back to the office isn’t going to mean reverting to how we worked before, however, technology and working habits have changed to support this and no one is too far away to be contacted when you need them.   

Helen Day-Cocking, Product Manager – Modern Workplace  

  

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash 

Location Location Location

Location Location Location

 

We are about to go to market for a new CFO and I’m left thinking about the qualities needed for that role:

1. Must be able to add up better than me (not setting the bar that high)

2. Must be passionate about the public interest sector and helping people do amazing things

3. Must complement our existing senior leadership team, bringing a new voice and new perspective but not breaking the group dynamic

4. Must have the experience and confidence to provide assurance to our stakeholders

5. Must be able to work independently (as I’m not a very good manager) but in a truly collaborative manner, demonstrating high support as well as high challenge with others.

6. Must live locally to HQ?

18 months ago, requirement 6 would have been a must have, but does our enthusiastic adoption of hybrid working change that?

Delt has an objective to deliver sustainable socio-economic development, predominantly targeting the South West. Paying a CFO salary to somebody resident in the South West would help push up our regional gross value add but a good CFO will generate much greater value than their own salary, much of which will be delivered in region, irrespective of where they live. Will they feel more invested in our region if they live here? Possibly, but given I live 90 minutes from HQ (on a good day) I’m not super local myself and just as passionate about what we do and where we do it.

Does it really matter to me if our CFO lives in Totnes, Tunbridge Wells or Toronto?

I really like working from home. I’m more productive, have a better work life balance and don’t spend half my day washing up other people’s coffee cups. I have a better view out of my window than an overfull carpark and find the sound of my sheep and cow neighbours to be more conducive to my sanity than the multitude of open plan conversations that register in my subconscious when sitting in a shared office. However, I really don’t like video meetings for anything strategic. Tactical meetings are OK, even those with numerous participants but the moment you try and move to anything strategic, the technology seems to become a barrier. This might be because I’m Gen X and spent most of my working life sat in a room with others but for me at least, the quality of conversations and debate possible over technology doesn’t compare with being in the same real-world space together.

I really don’t care where our CFO lives. What I care about, is that wherever that is, it doesn’t pose an impediment to our team being able to sit in a room together on a regular basis. That room doesn’t have to be at HQ, it could be anywhere physical. In the gaps, we can exist happily in cyberspace but at least once a month I want to be able to look you in the eye and maybe even buy you a cake. Cake matters. Your home address doesn’t.

 

Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer

Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

It Isn’t All About Trees

It Isn’t All About Trees

 

At a recent interview panel I was sat on, one of the questions asked of the prospective candidates was “Who inspires you and why?” It was an ice breaker of a question (no pun intended) and it made me instantly think of Sir David Attenborough, as he’s my hero.    

Sir David Attenborough has been an inspiration to me since childhood. Science can be complex and the numbers involved with climate change are vast and difficult to appreciate but Attenborough communicates this in understandable terms. I’m delighted to say that at Delt Shared Services, we are now signed up to two schemes endorsed by him. We have contributed to the World Land Trust for over 12 months via one of our paper suppliers Antalis and we have recently signed up to Print Releaf through our small format digital supplier Xerox.   

The World Land Trust protect existing rainforests from deforestation.  With each KG of paper we buy and use, we make a small donation to The World Land Trust and they use these funds to secure areas that are endangered.  We haven’t spent a lot of money but we’ve helped to protect those rainforests and areas of land.   

Print Releaf replant trees based upon sheet usage in your print room.  They measure usage over time and calculate how many trees were harvested and then reforest areas of the World to compensate for that usage.  It is sustainability in the simplest form through reforestation.  It’s likely, given how much we print that we’ll be replanting at least one tree per day through Print Releaf over the next twelve months.   

This isn’t unusual for the print industry. If we look at print as a form of manufacturing (something that I do), it’s one of the most consciously active industries in terms of ecological sustainability. Our customers are essentially ordering things that are made from trees or products that could have a high environmental impact so we need to be responsible for replacing and protecting those trees and sourcing materials with the lowest impact possible. If we didn’t, we’d run out of resources very quickly.  

It isn’t all about trees either as they’re only a part of an overall ecosystem that maintains life on this planet.  In reducing plastic use in our print room, we are also lessening our environmental impact.  We’ve replaced plastic business card boxes with card boxes and now use paper tape to box up our print deliveries.  Very little of what we produce contains plastic and when we do have to use plastic products, we ensure that these are PVC free as you cannot recycle PVC easily. We courier our deliveries ourselves and we are currently looking at shifting to electric vehicle use.   

Like the ecosystems we need to protect, we need to look at our own actions, processes and production as an ecosystem and it’s an inspiring thing to do.  We are a small contributor in comparison to a company like Amazon but as Greta Thunberg (another person that I find inspirational), will tell you, nobody is too small to make a difference.  

This is going to become an ongoing process in Delt Shared Services Print and Mail area, and we’ll continually improve our environmental sustainability.               

 

Aaron Hartley, Print Services Manager

 

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Til Death Do Us Part

Til Death Do Us Part 

 

In 2019 the US Department of Defence let a 10 year, $10B contract for cloud services to Microsoft.  

Ignoring the fact that Amazon subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging White House (Trump) bias, the DoD have now cancelled the contract citing not the lawsuit but ‘how much the landscape changed during the intervening time’.  

That time is 20 months.  

Despite what must have been thousands of hours of procurement effort to get this deal done, it was apparently out of date before the ink was even dry. 

Technology is always changing but the pace of change seems to be increasing. Annual software updates are almost a thing of the past with quarterly or monthly updates commonplace. Hardware is no better. I’ve just updated my GoPro camera after what feels like a couple of years and found that I was six generations out of date. A flagship mobile phone is good for maybe 2 years. Buying tech now, be it hardware or services and expecting it to last for a decade, is almost inexplicable.  

An organisation I’m familiar with recently signed a 20-year licence deal for a piece of enterprise software. They got a great discount but have locked themselves into an ecosystem which may well not even exist half way through their contract term, let alone still be adequately maintained. Remember Microsoft said Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows back in 2015? I’ve recently had a chance to see the early preview of Windows 11 and we know that Windows 10 will be retired in 2025, at the grand old age of 10. 

I think long term deals like the DoD cloud agreement are going to become more and more rare. They probably need to. This is going to be uncomfortable for the public sector which seems to like lengthy deals, in part because it reduces the costs of procurement. I generally won’t sign deals longer than 3 years though I did sign up to a 5-year deal earlier this year when it transpired it wouldn’t cost any more to exit at year three and do something else if we needed to. 

There is a particular Delt irony in this – we try and do 10-year deals with our shareholders. However, you don’t join a partnership like Delt for short term gain and whilst our services agreements may be drafted for a decade: 

  1. The underpinning technologies and systems are expected to change, probably multiple times during the contract term  
  2. We have break points where if something isn’t working as planned, either side can exit. Try and find that sort of clause in a software licence deal. 

Long term technology deals using conventional contracting may be a thing of the past and as a buyer, we’ll probably avoid them. Technology changes far too fast. As a seller of long-term partnerships – which are all about people, with divorce available if all else fails, we’ll continue to promote arrangements that can deliver enduring value.  

People don’t change all that fast, as anyone who has ever tried to deliver a major people transformation programme knows. 

 

Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Rise Of Third Workspaces & Public Wi-Fi

The Rise Of Third Workspaces & Public Wi-Fi

 

I think it’s safe to say many of us are now accustomed to working from home. But did you know there are reports of an increase in third workplaces? Third workplaces being neither your office or your home but rather a coffee shop, library or even hotel. As blissful as a change of scenery feels right now; do you consider what you’re connecting to with your phone or laptop?  

Next time you access public Wi-Fi, perhaps stop for a moment and consider this… 

In the last 10 years, access to public Wi-Fi has morphed from a welcome occurrence to an expectation for most people, occurring in a variety of scenarios across coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, trains, and all manner of other places. Unfortunately, this is an area where technology has not necessarily kept pace with changes in how the world works in practice, meaning that risks exist to you and your data when you use these services.  

Open Wireless networks – a glass house 

When you join a new wireless network and it doesn’t ask for a password, that’s what we’d typically call an open wireless network, and they’re super convenient for hooking up to internet on the go. The downside of this is that they’re also unencrypted. Sites like Google and Facebook still encrypt their data when they’re using HTTPS to access the page, but any pages that don’t are exposing you to anyone who chooses to look (this might also include the login portal for the Wi-Fi – just another example of why it’s dangerous to re-use passwords!) 

 So, a network with a password is fine? 

In short – yes and no. A network should use WPA2 to offer you the most protection, older standards have been replaced due to the security flaws associated with them and shouldn’t be trusted for typical use. 

 To check whether you’re using a WPA2 protected network: 

  1. Select the Wi-Fi network icon on the right side of the taskbar, then select Properties underneath the Wi-Fi network name.
  2. On the Wi-Fi network screen, under Properties, look at the value next to Protocol. This should read something starting with “WPA2” (it may read “WPA2-Personal” on home Wi-Fi, for example). 

I’ve done that so now I’m ready to go, right? 

Well, still no, unfortunately. There are some more technical attacks that can be launched between you and other people on the network which might try to route your traffic via them, or even try to compromise your device outright.  

Then, if everyone using the network is friendly, you must worry about the person running it! The operators of the legitimate network may not be as friendly as they seem, or someone could have given their own network the same name to get access to their customers. 

If at this point, you’re considering a vow never to use Wi-Fi again, I wouldn’t blame you. That you don’t need physical access to it means it’s a technology that’s challenging to use securely, and as ever, you need to consider whether you trust the person/people that will have access to your traffic once it reaches a wire, too. There’s hope though! VPNs are designed for almost exactly this purpose. 

 Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) 

They do what they say on the tin, really. You get a secure encrypted tunnel to the operator of the VPN, and everything you send between your device and the operator is protected – offering you protection as if you were on a private network. Once at the provider, the traffic carries on as normal (so we do see a bit of a trust challenge here again – you need to trust the people operating the VPN with visibility of the traffic you are sending through it). 

In short: 

If you’ve made it all this way and still know what you’re doing, then good work. If you need a notes version here’s the important bits… 

  • Be careful as to what you access and do on public Wi-Fi, as someone else may be able to see it. 
  • Wherever possible, avoid open networks entirely. 
  • If you can use a VPN do so. 
  • …and on top of that, do not forget to be aware of who can see over your shoulder! Do not let curious eyes snoop on what you are doing in Costa or train carriage.  

Joseph Smith, IT Security Specialist  

 

Photo by The Coherent Team on Unsplash

A Veteran in a Civilian World

A Veteran in a Civilian World

 

Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day, when thousands will gather across the country to show their support for the many people who make up the Armed Forces community. This is an opportunity for us all to appreciate and acknowledge serving military personnel, veterans, reserve forces and Service families. As a Royal Navy veteran myself, this is an important moment to reflect, not only on my own Service but to think hard about the important role our Armed Forces play in our society today and how we can all support them.

The end of June is a particularly poignant time for me as 2 years ago it marked my last day of Service after more than 38 years. In June 2019, I was handing back my RN ID card and wondering what next. I wanted to continue working and was convinced I had transferable skills but like many leaving the Armed Forces I was apprehensive about what the future held. I did every bit of training offered, followed all the advice, planned my transition diligently and set about ‘Operation Get a Job’ with all the care dedicated to planning military tasks previously.

After much networking, several false starts and admittedly a few half-hearted applications I found Delt Shared Services advertising for a Chief Projects Officer. My research started with a look at the company’s website, a read through the CEO’s blogs and studying the business plan, I was hooked. I am proud to say that I got the job and for almost 2 years I have worked at Delt. One of the attractions was a values statement akin to what I was used to in the RN, Commitment, Courage, Discipline, Respect, Integrity and Loyalty replaced with Integrity, Transparency, Empowerment, Partnership, Collaboration, Innovation and Creativity.

Delt is based in Plymouth, the home of the largest Naval Base in Western Europe and the City has a strong Royal Marine and Army presence, so it was a delight to find that Delt was committed to supporting the Armed Forces. We are proud holders of an Armed Forces Covenant Silver award; we support reservists with extra leave and even give post-deployment leave to spouses/partners of military personnel when their other half returns home after a period deployed overseas. And around me were other veterans and reservists, so an avenue for regaling each other with tales of our past, each person trying to outdo the other, was still there. My non-military colleagues joined in and I found a feeling of camaraderie from shared experiences that help form Delt’s corporate personality.

The Delt environment was perfect, and certainly military friendly, but what could an old Navy bloke do for a young, shared service provider whose main output is IT? I found that my experience working in many different roles, with people from different backgrounds, across diverse cultures was ideal preparation for Delt. Previous experience delivering complex work to demanding deadlines, having a disciplined approach to work, being prepared to make decisions and see tasks to completion, understanding the balance between risk and benefits and being able to work across our organisation and with partners at all levels has also helped.  Early on in my Naval career I received excellent leadership and management training. One of my early courses started with a challenge, ‘What is the single most important factor in leadership and management?’ The answer was simple, the sailor, in effect people. From that moment on I knew that if you looked after your people, understood their drivers, treated them well, gave clear and concise direction, created a safe space where people could make mistakes and learn without being judged harshly and respected everyone for their unique value then you could build a team that would deliver success. This is the approach I have taken at Delt and it is going well so far.

I am enjoying immensely my new role as a civilian working in an organisation that respects the military. I think many veterans or serving personnel about to leave have doubts about their ability to transition into the civilian workplace, I certainly did. I have learned that these doubts are unfounded. Within our military community we have countless talented people with considerable experience of delivering complex outputs and they can add value to any organisation.

As we approach Armed Forces Day think carefully not just about the past or what our military does for us now but what their people can do for your organisation in the future.

Simply put, be more like Delt.

 

Gary Pettitt, Chief Project Officer

 

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash