Luke Robison - graduate profile

IT Strategy and Architecture Consultant, IBM

"I studied Computer Science and Networks (CSN), which was a 4-year course, with a 1-year placement after the first two years. This was one of the primary reasons for me looking and accepting a place on the course. I was always advised that having experience in the IT industry will help you in the future. And now that I have been in the industry for 3 years, I couldn’t agree more. That one year of applied knowledge really speaks volumes to all employers, and, considering the difficult economic times we are in, it can make the difference between getting a job and not.

Apart from the placement year I chose the CSN course because of the breadth of subjects it covers. I wanted to gain a broad understanding of many facets of IT, and Plymouth certainly provided that, as well as giving you more detailed knowledge in your chosen subject. In the current day this is known as the ‘T’ shape model, so you have a broad base with certain areas of expertise. I feel the benefit of this approach is, while getting detailed knowledge in some areas, you are gaining skills which will suit any job and allow you to develop successfully. Since leaving, this Plymouth model has become well acknowledged in academia and industry and is known as the 'T' shape model. I still build my career like this today, just with a finer scope of area I want to develop my skills in.

Also the University has worked very hard to get the course professionally accredited: after completing the course you can be recognised by the British Computing Society and Cisco for the skills and knowledge you have gained throughout your 4 years. I wasn’t sure of the value of this when studying, but now I can see it. The professional accreditations just make your CV look even more compelling to any potential employer, proving your skills are relevant and needed in the open market place.

Apart from the course there are many other reasons for choosing Plymouth: the academic staff are second to none, helping you refine and develop ideas as much as you want. They are always available to discuss your work or lend a helpful thought or two about where you could go next. To this day I still keep in contact with my lecturers, with a good exchange of ideas and information transferring between us. There is also a very high quality of facilities on offer at the University, making studying, researching and developing ideas quicker and easier.

In more detail my degree offered a great blend of base computing knowledge such as mathematics and physics, standard computing principles such as coding, database design and PC architecture, business and law, as well as forward-thinking aspects of IT. This great breadth has placed me in an ideal situation to understand most aspects of IT at some level while being able to apply them to real-life scenarios. When you then add in the experience of actually working in the real world for a year, when you finish your CSN degree after four years you are in a great position to find any job you want in the IT industry.

My degree helped me get a job with IBM, as an IT Strategy and Architecture Consultant. Where my role is to work directly with clients on a daily basis to understand their problems and develop recommendations and solutions to solve them. I have worked with numerous global companies from Government agencies to Investment banks. On a daily basis I use the skills I developed during my degree, and I also use the knowledge I built up.

Part of my role as a consultant is to be the 'bridge' between technology and the client. So I tailor my communication style to meet the needs of my audience. I often find myself engaged in detailed technical discussions, where the fundamentals taught to me at university allow me to understand and contribute successfully.

I still keep in close contact with the University, even returning to the University to be part of the judging panel for the end of year dissertation demonstrations. I also shared my success at the British Computing Society Awards 2008, when I was awarded the Young IT Practitioner of the Year Medal.

Plymouth offers you the opportunity to start growing and developing the skills you need to gain a strong foothold in the IT industry. You will then have the skills you need to develop and succeed in your chosen career. Career aside, I have made lifelong friends at Plymouth; some I even work with through the IT industry today and others I see on a regular basis.