An interview with a computing consultant

What it's like to be an IT consultant in the UK

Director and IT Consultant, Richard Pilton, talks about his journey from studying astro-physics in London to running a successful IT consultancy whilst studying a masters in Business Information Systems.

What career path did you take to become an IT consultant?After my time at the University of London studying Astro-physics which involved an extensive amount of mathematics and logic, I then moved on to work in the IT department of a small local company. After spending a long time in training courses geared towards software engineering I moved to work as a Software Development Manager for a European software house. I then went to work as the Head of IT for a new entrepreneurial start up venture before deciding to start my own company with some similar professionals.

What is a normal day like for you?Either, driving half way around the south east of England providing on-site consultancy services to businesses requiring my expertise or sitting in the office analysing business requirements in order to design a bespoke software solution for clients.

What skills do you look for in an employee?In order to succeed in my industry, communication, dedication and a certain amount of drive is paramount and the simple acceptance that there is always more to learn.

What is the best advice you can offer to students who want to start their own business?Recognise what it is that you do well and stick to it, find similar minded people who do other things well that compliment you and never stop listening to people’s advice, even if right now you think it’s wrong.

What is the biggest misconception about the IT industry?The rest of the world thinks that people who are in IT know everything about IT, however it is more like the building industry. A plumber fits bathrooms and an electrician fits lights, so decide what part of the industry you want to go into before building your first computer, designing your first website or programming your first line of code.

How has the industry changed since you first started this job?Considering this is the fastest changing industry in the entire world, I’ll list some of the bigger ones in my career: The adoption of the internet for both businesses and consumers in terms of information exchange, electronic commerce and social networking, the huge take up of software talking to software rather than people talking to people and it is now taken as given that not only every business, but every household have computers at the disposal.

What made you want to study a masters in Business Information Systems?For two reasons, one to clarify my skills and two to structure my knowledge and fill in any gaps. Already this has helped bring new perspectives on the way my own business works, making it more efficient and profitable. As for the future, with growing years of experience combined with a masters level degree in what I do, this should give me an advantage over others if I apply for jobs in the future.

For more information on careers in IT after graduation check out this article on ‘How to deal with the IT skills shortage’