E43 - Mark O'Leary at Jisc | Hamilton Barnes

E43 - Mark O'Leary at Jisc

James Dean
Mark O'Leary

By James Dean & Mark O'Leary

Our 43rd episode of The Route to Networking podcast was hosted by our Director of Telecoms, James Dean joined by our guest, Mark O’Leary, the Deputy Director of Strategic Planning and Service Management at Jisc. During this episode, they discuss how Mark got into the industry, what holds the most weight when hiring, and some of the biggest changes he’s seen since starting his career.

Taking it back to when he first started, he can only describe it as ‘falling into it by accident’. His early training was in molecular biology, where he set up experiments and then left them to run for 36 hours. Eventually, the science fell away and the networking stayed with him. His next position after that was at a university as a Network Technician and pursued that ever since. Mark reflects about the great thing about Networking is that you can enter it at any point in your career. Other than the deep background, there’s new technology all the time so there’s expertise for everybody.

Wireless networks had the biggest changes he has seen in his area. There was a curiosity that they could impress people with it and wireless in its various forms, is mission-critical in the world of education and most industries. It is a key enabler for people getting other aspects of their job done and you do not think about how you’re connecting your devices unless something goes wrong.

Working in the education field, when it comes to hiring, does the certification vs. degree argument come into play, and what holds more weight?

Mark tends to have a bias towards higher education. Along with the subject matter when doing a degree, there is a lot of logical thinking and organising of thoughts, expressing yourself clearly and designing a stepwise process towards a company that comes with the package. That is not an exclusive route, though, as they must have other means of expressing that during the interview. You may have the best engineer in the world but if you cannot talk to them or they can’t tell you in a convincing way what needs to happen to get the best technical outcome, then they might as well not have those technical skills.

More on Jisc…

Jisc manages primarily the national network backbone for the education and culture research facilities. They run a big network equivalent to what the global network was back in 2012. With that, they give high availabilities to individual customers, and everyone gets a dedicated bandwidth.

His day-to-day routine as the Director has changed slightly as he has moved into a new role. He is involved heavily in the financial planning and deployment planning of the network.

Staying in the mobile area the wireless broadband alliance was an industry body that was formed recently. It is developing a family of protocols called open roaming. Mark likes to think they looked over the fence at what education has in Eduroam and what the public sector has in Govroam internationally and realised that federated roaming can be done on commercial Wi-Fi providers. They are building the things that they have not needed over at Jisc. Once those standards are ratified, they are going to rapidly come to dominate all the Wi-Fi services they encounter. That is going to be a step change and a great benefit for the end user.

Make sure you tune in to listen to the full episode to hear the quick-fire round, he gives some great answers so make sure you do not miss it!