Growing Cloud capability in Manchester

Hear from Jess Trowbridge-Nixon, Senior Transformation Manager at BT, who shares what sort of impact the work she does has on their customers, how BT is growing cloud capability in Manchester.

What do you and your team do?

I am a Senior Transformation Manager within Dynamic Infrastructure which is a key component of BT’s Networks function. In essence, Dynamic Infrastructure is an enabling function that builds, runs, and transforms BT’s most critical network, IT and physical infrastructure assets. We deliver the Networks strategy and work with BT’s service platforms and Digital IT teams to create the right solutions for our customers and our people, whenever and wherever it is needed. My role is to drive improvement for our colleagues and internal customers across the Hybrid Cloud and OSS functions, working closely with BT’s Technology and Digital functions to transform and grow our business.

What impact does your work have on our customers?

BT’s Networks function manages the critical infrastructure for our products, services (over 40,000) and internal systems, so we’re truly a global presence delivering for all our customers. We support a business worth £24million revenue in addition to over 30million mobile customers, 5.5 million sport customers, almost 2 million TV customers and over 10 million voice and broadband customers. 1 billion conferencing minutes are used by our customers per month, and we manage over 5 million “hotspots” as part of our wi-fi network (which is the third largest in the world). We provide Ethernet connection to 130,000 UK businesses, rung a 24/7 service for mobile, voice, TV sport, media, and broadcast. Over 95% of all UK broadcast content runs over our TV network and up to 22.9 terabits of data is transitioning across our core network every second. Dynamic Infrastructure is vital to all these services. 

How is BT growing cloud capability in Manchester?

We exist in a time of convergence in which the worlds of software and networks are merging. More and more, the networks of today are becoming software-centric and the boundaries between the two are disappearing, creating a need for a new set of skills. We need to grow and develop the capability of our people to drive cutting edge development and navigate this change. 

BT is a global business, with over 105k employees. We operate at scale and are continually evolving and adapting. We cannot navigate this transformation by developing and retraining our colleagues alone, however. We need to bring in the best talent, we need to grow. We are looking, right now, at all levels of engineer and are actively recruiting to build out the capability we require – engineers who double in network development and software development equally.

While attracting this capability is integral to delivering our strategy, it will need to be nurtured as much as it is acquired. Whether through sponsored degrees with local universities, bespoke graduate programmes, and entry level opportunities, or whether it is through talented, experienced hires, our team is growing at pace. There has literally never been a better time to join BT.  

Why did the business choose Manchester as a key location for cloud?

In BT we have an ambition of being the world’s most trusted connector of people, devices and machines. To achieve this, we need environments which support that ambition. In line with our strategy for building the strongest foundations, our new brilliant workplaces are designed to create a hassle-free experience, supported by technology that is intuitive and allows us to seamlessly connect with each other and our customers. We are creating workspaces that we believe will set us up for the long-term. We are investing in leading spaces and are furnishing them with the technology that makes collaboration seamless inside, outside and across buildings. Our decision to build BT’s Cloud Centre of Excellence in Manchester has been reached as part of this programme. Manchester has long been a lynchpin in BT’s rich heritage and our new office in is strategically positioned not only to optimise network service and coverage for our colleagues, and our investment in the new Four New bailey office, close to Spinningfield’s business district is the ideal location to build the Cloud Centre of Excellence, adding to the 14,800 jobs BT support across the North West region.  It has been designed with our people in mind and has everything from a rooftop Garden to exceptional communal areas, enabling our people to co-locate with purpose.

What do you enjoy about your role?

It may sound a bit of a cliché but no two days in my role are ever the same. The variety of different projects keeps me permanently on my toes and I enjoy the rapid pace of change. One thing that always amazes me is the depth and breadth of knowledge of our people and I find this really inspiring and engaging. There is always more to learn!

I also enjoy being able to make a difference to BT and our customers. We would be nothing without our people and I’m proud to say my role enables me to make a difference, no matter how small, to our people and our customers, every day! 

How would you describe the Networks unit at BT?

Networks is a great place to work – it’s vital to the smooth operation of BT as a technology business and our people really embody BT’s “brilliant” value. Coming from within BT, but not from a technology background, the last 4 months have been a very steep learning curve for me (and one that I’m far from completing!) but at the same time it has been absolutely fascinating to learn about a different part of BT and apply my skill set to the task in hand. Everyone in Dynamic Infrastructure has been so welcoming, and none of my questions (and there have been quite a few, I can tell you!) has ever been treated like a silly question. It’s not been too much trouble for anyone to spend time with me providing explanations as to how things work or why things are done in a certain way, even though we have been following Government guidance on remote working. I think any new starter will find that helpful, as it’s a really welcoming environment that values people for their skills and experience.

It is also a brilliant time to build or develop your career in BT – our Telco Cloud is growing at a fast pace, we are reskilling our people for the future and looking to attract new talent as we expand. Soon we’ll be moving to an exciting new office space in the heart of Manchester which is great for BT’s presence in the city. 

What’s the best project you’ve worked on?

Goodness, this is the hardest question to answer! I’m a firm believer that there is something to be learned from everyone and everything, and projects are no exception! I’ve enjoyed every piece of work I’ve done for different reasons… I’ve only been in my current role for about 4 months, and I love the ambition for change and the opportunity to really grow a function, it really fires me up to make an impact and build something from the ground up.

During the last financial year, I had the opportunity to work on the All IP programme (BT’s migration to IP calling ahead of the withdrawal of the PSTN). It’s an industry wide programme that requires a change of network for every single fixed line phone in the UK. Such a large and complex programme is hugely challenging but rewarding in equal measure and I had the opportunity to really get to grips with the programme finances which stretched me in a new way. I loved being out of my comfort zone and while it was daunting at the time it taught me a lot. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do that and that was probably my best BT experience so far.

Prior to life in BT, I’ve led on a couple of organisational changes in different businesses. I see those projects as being a huge opportunity to do right by a company’s people and treat them with respect. Leading a restructure might sound like a perverse thing to want to do but I’m absolutely committed to ensuring the hearts and minds of the employees are put first – I’ve been on the receiving end of changes like that when that hasn’t been the case and can speak from experience as to how personal and heartbreaking that can feel. I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to rectify that situation for other people and I always lean into the difficult conversations during organisational change for that very reason. Knowing I’ve done the best by others is something I’ll always be proud of.


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