Roseanna McDonald, Windows systems engineer, Globoforce
Roseanna McDonald, Windows systems engineer, Globoforce. Image: Globoforce

How has the role of a systems engineer changed over time?

19 Jul 2018

Want to know what it’s like working as a systems engineer? We spoke to one from Globoforce to find out.

When it comes to tech talent, it’s certainly an employees’ market. Countless companies are looking for tech jobs, including systems engineers, which is good news for those looking for those jobs.

However, do you know how much the job of a systems engineer has changed over the years? Since everything has become cloud-based, there’s a lot more to the job than there once was.

Roseanna McDonald is a Windows systems engineer at Globoforce. Here, she talks about  her daily routine, her top productivity tips and how the role has changed over time.

What is your role within Globoforce?

I am a Windows systems engineer, which means that I help to manage and maintain the Windows-based systems internally for the company as well as for our customers.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

Generally, the first part of my day is routine-based, which means carrying out the checks and procedures that are in place to ensure the smooth running of our Windows environment.

This is usually routine but once in a while an issue will come up that could change the course of the day and could result in me engaging with technical teams, vendors or end users to resolve it.

I like to get away from my desk at lunch and that could mean a stolen march (walk along the nearby canal), a trip to the nearby shopping centre or a catch-up with colleagues in our fabulous canteen.

When I get back to my desk, I like to focus on the project I am working on. Sometimes, I’m pulled into resolving tickets that have been assigned to our Windows team. My mantra is ‘tickets before project’, so I need to strike a balance between the unexpected and the ongoing project work.

I tend to spend my last 20 minutes in the office to review what I’ve achieved during the day and focus on the plan for tomorrow.

What types of project do you work on?

I am currently working on several projects, including streamlining the Windows technology internally within the organisation. This involves managing application integration and centralising in-house client support.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

I work with a team of highly skilled technical engineers who are always willing to assist and step in. As such, I have learned that the art of listening is at least as important as being able to express your opinion.

I make a deliberate effort to understand the business impact of the work that I am doing so I can anticipate any technical issues. This involves understanding the product and the customers’ needs.

Understanding the requirements of a non-technical end user is critical. Also, knowing the right questions to ask in any technical role is key.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

Tuning out when you’re engrossed in a piece of work can be difficult, as is identifying those unexpected errors just when it’s time go home. As a technical person, I have a curious nature. That has, on occasion, led me to taking the laptop out after dinner.

In short, switching off is the hardest part of my day.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

I don’t always stick to this, but getting away from my desk (if even for five minutes) can be helpful. The walk at lunchtime is great. Drinking lots of water is another tip.

Setting myself a hard deadline helps me complete tasks more efficiently as I need to focus on multiple priorities at the same time.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

In my previous roles, I was focusing exclusively on the Windows space. This role involves cross-communication with network DB and other OS teams. This has been a welcome challenge because I get a more holistic view of the environment, its growth and what will be the long-term benefit to the customer.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

Until recently, the role of a Windows administrator was limited to looking at solutions such as mail, web and extranet solutions.

Today, with infrastructure being more cloud-based, it is important to understand and get the right balance between projected technical requirements, security and what’s possible, while maintaining full autonomy of a Windows environment.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I work for a company where the life blood of the product is its innovation. The innovation stems from a team that is always looking for ways to do something better.

Not only are these people truly innovative by profession, their respect for each other is one of the first things you will pick up on when you walk through the front door.

Working with these highly skilled people makes you raise your game. I have been challenged in this role, and the very nature of a role in IT is that you should be continually challenged.

Want to work at Globoforce? Check out the Globoforce Careers page for current vacancies.

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