A Day in the Life of an IT Architect

Architects don’t just deal in bricks and mortar you know: IT architects do their building in the digital realm. We caught up with Oliver Pope-Mostowicz at IBM to hear what an average day looks like.

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8:00

I like to wake up early and make a proper cup of coffee to start off my day.  I’ll read and make breakfast and generally leave the house by about 8:00.

8:30

Depending on the traffic I’ll get to work around 8:30. I work with clients and other IBM-ers all over the world so it isn’t strange to receive emails at midnight, so first I catch up with their emails, then I’ll usually work on my GiveBack projects: projects outside my normal role that nonetheless benefit myself and IBM

Currently I’m working on a few projects: an innovation proposal for a very large client; developing an analytics tool for IBM hiring personnel; administering the IBM Apprentice blog; and lastly, a project to improve the IBM Apprenticeship scheme as a whole and establish some best practices.

9:30 – 12:00

At around 9:30 I kick off my work for the day. Being an architect means I am involved in the high levels of projects; assisting in the direction of new proposals, finding areas for innovation in, or improvement of, an existing solution, and ensuring that the i documentation we have for the account is up to date and accurate.

Documentation may sound boring, but when you deal with Enterprise level solutions that may span many countries or even continents, it is the be all and end all! 

I attend or host multiple meetings throughout the day, either over the phone or in person, and spend the rest of my time updating or creating documentation, logging into client environments and  carrying out technical work/updates, or brainstorming - there are two white boards in my office that get a really good use each day!

12:00 – 12:45

I’ll grab some lunch with a colleague - a graduate who is also  an architect - and then go for a walk around the campus. IBM Hursley, where I work, always surprises me with new paths or gardens I haven’t seen before!

12:45 – 16:00

I usually carry on with what I was working on in the morning, or if I managed to complete that before lunch, I’ll move onto one of the other accounts I work on.

16:00

Coffee no.3 (usually!)

16:15 – 18:00

I finish off the day’s tasks, then shut down the laptop and leave the office.  I’ll occasionally check my phone just in case an important email or call has come through, but usually once I’m home I’m pretty safe to just relax and plough on through Breaking Bad.

Describe the social environment in your work place?

I work in my own office during the day, but I have regular face-to-face meetings with other architects, most of whom are full-time professionals – my manager, who I work with pretty regularly, is also the head of all the architects in the UK and Ireland! There’s also another graduate architect in the office next door to mine, so we often meet up to discuss any work issues we’ve come across.

What normally constitutes the best part of your working day?...

Working directly with clients is always really rewarding. Sometimes you may come across difficult situations which although challenging can help you to develop as a person. People expect big things of IBM and when you deliver, it is really satisfying.

…And the most challenging?

I find the most challenging part of my day is when I am waiting on other people to do things.  I really enjoy my job, and I love working with other people (I get a bit stir crazy if I’m by myself too long!) but sometimes, especially during busier times of the year, it can be frustrating having to follow up with people to move basic things forward.

What sorts of clients do you deal with day to day?

At the moment, because of the responsibilities in the accounts I am working on, I am generally dealing with other IBM-ers.  That can change quite quickly though and if I need to do something else I will be client-facing at the drop of a hat; and sometimes with that much preparation time too!

I generally deal with quite senior clients in the technical side of the business, but as I progress in my role and take on more responsibility it is also likely that I will be involved in conversations with managers/decision-makers in order to guide technical discussions and progress the IBM solution for clients.

Do you have many opportunities to socialise or network with your colleagues and clients?

There is a large community of apprentices, students and graduates at Hurley, so there are lots of opportunities to socialise. Being in the Foundation scheme makes it even easier because there are events and meetings scheduled regularly for you to attend to increase your network.

Do you work under high pressure?

I do, as an architect there is an understanding that the technical buck stops with you.  You need to know enough about the account, and whatever technical aspect is being discussed, to explain the situation to everyone involved - some of whom might be quite unhappy!

I must be able to advise on the best course of action (even if it’s the opposite to what people think!) and give solid, sound guidance to all areas of the account.  Often you can be asked to do something you’ve not done before, and you just have to get on with it (asking for help as you need it).

Is your workload different day to day or orientated around routine?

The workload can vary wildly on any given day, from busy to super busy!  There is always lots to do, and if you ask for it, there will always be more. 

I try to get involved with as much as possible, and while I have clear plans for the day and I am pretty organised, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and make a new plan on the fly.

Are there opportunities for career progression within your career or sector?

Very much so – an architect role is a really long-term role, and if you push yourself to learn more (both technically and from those around you) you can move up to really interesting, influential places relatively quickly and always be a useful and necessary resource in the business.

What is most rewarding about your role?

Knowing that I am helping to develop industry standards, and push innovation and new ways of thinking about IT into the business world.

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