Aiming high: a career in the cloud

Cheryl Davies’ job is to buy hosting environments for DWP Digital applications. This covers data centre space, servers, storage and – the future of the whole department’s hosting –  cloud environments. Cheryl manages the whole process: from sourcing and contracting to termination.

A new career in digital

“This was a new job for me in 2015,” Cheryl says, “although I’ve been with DWP for 28 years. I love a challenge, and I was keen to get stuck into a new role.”

Back then, Cheryl knew nothing about hosting, but DWP was starting a massive tech migration, from a managed service to in-house delivery.

“Luckily I had enough time and support to learn the ropes before being trusted to act as the commercial single point of contact for the project team.

I felt out-of-my-depth for a short time, but I was encouraged by everyone. I held my hand up if the tech-heavy discussions lost me. I’m comfortable with asking daft questions, and that meant I was always learning new skills.

Team work was essential in such a complex, fast-paced programme of work.

“I was positioned right in the middle of the core activity, working with senior management and business experts.

“It was a big responsibility. During the migration, I led the work to buy our data centre environments and all of the hardware we needed to build it out. As my skills and knowledge grew, I went on to negotiating new cloud environments, which is where all applications are moving to.

The new data centres went live on time, and DWP now delivers all of its services out of hybrid cloud environments.

Opportunities to learn and progress your career

“I moved to my current role in DWP Digital on promotion, having gained the academic skills, and the practical on-the-job skills. For progression and personal development, it’s important to have both, so I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to gain these.

Cheryl studied for a Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) foundation degree in 2007 for a previous job. And when she moved into her new role, she was given the opportunity to upgrade it to a masters (MCIPS).

“I took an exam-based route for my masters, but put studying on hold when I was too busy with work to juggle both. There’s never been any pressure to meet the deadline for this, so when I picked it back up again I decided to take the practical, assignment-based path to qualifying.

“I found this really useful. It was an opportunity to really delve into the detail of the subject – putting together a 3,000-word essay requires you to really understand what you’re writing about.

“My dissertation was supported by my senior managers, who helped me to find a research subject we’d all benefit from. I’ve shared it with colleagues for them to review, and we’re looking at bringing some of my recommendations into our work.”

Being part of a great team

“I love what I do. It helps that I work with a great team of supportive people. We welcome people who can bring fresh ideas and new perspectives.

“I’d say there are no boring days. We’re too busy supporting our hybrid cloud colleagues, working at pace. It’s a big responsibility, and we directly support the entire IT infrastructure for the government’s largest department, which serves more than 20 million customers.”