Staff Spotlight: Barry O'Sullivan
In conversation with Barry O'Sullivan, Head of IT Operations, UCC.
Barry completed a BComm and an MBS in Business Information Systems in UCC and then worked in PwC for 6 years as a Systems Implementation Engineer working with various clients including Department of Education, CERT, Department Social Welfare, and GPA. Barry then moved to Motorola before moving to Avery Dennison in Cork as an IT Manager. In 2002 Barry joined UCC IT Services working in Enterprise Applications on new systems development and data warehousing projects. One of the first jobs Barry was tasked with was the development of a new system to support anonymous marking – this led to the development and rollout of DMIS that is still widely used today 20 years later! In 2014 Barry became Head of Platform Delivery Group in IT Services with responsibility for the campus networks and datacentres and earlier this year Barry was appointed Head of IT Operations.
Barry, what is a standard day like for you as Head of IT Operations?
There is no standard day and the best-laid plans often go astray. I generally start the day between 7am and 7:30am with a quick glance at email to make sure there are no issues that need immediate attention. Keeping the Lights On (KTLO) as Head of IT Operations is the number one priority. Any infrastructure outage will have campus wide implications.
My typical day involves lots of meetings. Last week a lot of time was taken with preparing for and meeting our IT Auditors. Cyber Security continues to be a high risk for the university, and we need to make sure we have the appropriate controls in place. We are also currently preparing the UCC Digital Master Plan and a lot of the week was taken with meeting colleagues across UCC. There are also a number of project meetings – we are currently working with Building & Estates on a new telephony solution and we are also looking at upgrades to our WiFi. This week I also attended a number of meetings around Research IT. As part of my Head of IT Operations role I am tasked with building out our Research IT capabilities. We were recently successful in a NORF funding application, and this sees us working with UCD, HEAnet, SETU, and ICHEC on a pilot for national infrastructure to support active research data. On Friday I spent a day in Dublin at a HEAnet workshop with colleagues in IT and Library from across the sector to work on a maturity model for Research IT and Research Data. So safe to say, it was a busy week!
There have been significant changes in technology over your career, particularly in the last 3 years, what important changes have you been part of?
The last three years have been challenging for everyone for obvious reasons. The way we work now is completely different and technology has enabled the flexibility we now enjoy in terms of teaching, learning, and working. Microsoft Teams and our VirtualApp solutions have been fundamental to supporting our staff.
Increasingly we are promoting WiFi as the preferred network for staff and students. Personally, I have not used the wired network in over 2 years because all the services I need are either in the cloud or accessible via Citrix. This is important in terms of sustainability because the wired network is costly and generates a lot of overhead.
Cyber Security continues to dominate a lot of what we do. Considerable improvements have been made by my team and across IT Services to keep our users and assets safe. But we must continue to invest in our security.
What do you enjoy most about working in IT Services and UCC?
In November I will have been in UCC for 21 years. Time goes by so fast! I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed working in IT Services and I am fortunate to have great colleagues within my own team and across IT Services. The great thing about working in IT is that opportunities for learning are endless!
After a busy day or week in IT Services, how do you switch off?
I enjoy spending weekends with my family. For my own downtime I like to cycle and I enjoy a good challenge. This year I have registered for a cycle event in the Dolomites over the June Bank Holiday weekend that will, if successful, see me summit the iconic Stelvio pass. Two weeks later I am registered for the Vätternrundan, a 315Km one day cycle around Lake Vättern in Sweden. So the legs could be tired by end of June!