Pete Yates – BSc (Hons) Geology with Geography graduate

“I would highly recommend studying at Plymouth. The geology lecturers were highly regarded and, at the time, Plymouth was one of the best universities in which to study geology.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I found my calling in IT. My first role was with an IT service provider working on the help desk; I held five different positions over five years, ultimately ending up running the global operations centre. I then moved to New Zealand and carried on with my IT career, where I currently head up the IT and Operational teams for the Digital Innovation group of the largest telecommunications company in New Zealand.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

It opened the door for me into my IT career, where it has also taught me about work ethic and the importance of having an enquiring mind.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Since deciding on IT/technology as a career I have stuck to that path. What has changed, however, is that I have moved from pure hands-on technology to managing large teams in the delivery and support of technology solutions as part of an in-house team or as an IT service provider.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Working and living overseas. I was sent to run the Benelux Operations in 2003, which required me to be located in Amsterdam for nine months. I have also travelled extensively for work, to attend customer meetings or technology conferences. I remember once having to jump on the Eurostar for a customer meeting in Paris.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Do it, especially if you love technology/IT and can deal with, and enjoy, a fast pace of change. IT and technology has changed dramatically over the last decade and will continue to do so at a much faster pace, especially as companies fight to remain relevant, competing with new breeds of companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Tesla, Pandora, Rocklabs, Google etc.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

I was a long way from home so it taught me self-reliance. I also grew in confidence, especially when presenting to large groups. I also loved the city and the University campus, which made living, studying, and socialising there much easier and far more enjoyable. At the time it was simple to navigate around the campus to get to lectures: everything you needed was right there and easily accessible.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

I really wanted to study a degree that I knew I would enjoy. I loved geography and maths at school so I wanted to incorporate that into my degree. I always thought I would go in to some sort of engineering role, hence the geology part of the degree. Also, I wanted to have fun so it was really important for me not to be confined to a lecture theatre. As it turned out, we had numerous field trips and practical sessions in the geology labs. Having fun is hugely important to me and has guided many of my career decisions and heavily influenced my leadership style.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Plymouth itself, because I love the city and being by the sea: something that has stayed with when choosing where I wanted to live. My (New Zealand) wife, two children, and I reside only five minutes’ walk from a beautiful beach on the east coast of New Zealand, not far from Auckland city. I also remember going on to Dartmoor after a big snow dump for a snow ball fight.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University, and why?

I would highly recommend studying at the University. The geology lecturers were highly regarded and, at the time, Plymouth was one of the best universities in which to study geology. Plymouth is also an awesome city and the campus and nightlife are great.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

If anyone is keen on looking at New Zealand as a place to live or work, I would be happy to answer any questions, give advice and guidance etc. Most important, you have to have fun in your job. You may not always know what you want to do, so do what you enjoy and what you’re good at. Your personal and professional development is up to you: just find a great boss and a company that can support you in that. I left university thinking that I never wanted to do another exam, but sadly that has not been the case and it has been necessary for me to do one in order to progress and obtain IT certifications.