Spotlight on our people

Have you ever wondered who inspires your colleagues? Or perhaps what sort of music, film or TV they’re into? Find out here in the new look Spotlight

If you’d like to feature ‘in the Spotlight’, or have a question you’d love to ask your colleagues, please email ITS Communications.

Mark Connop
College IT Manager, College of Medical and Dental Sciences
HSRC Building – or home, now!

What do you do in IT Services and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?

I’m the College IT Manager for the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, aka the IT Services business partner for MDS. The job is pretty varied with time split between managing the local MDS IT Team, project management, business partnering, budget management, and so on. Mainly though, I sit in meetings.

I also have some roles wider than MDS; for example I manage the contracts with our suppliers for all matters regarding client devices.

What led you to this career?

I had a ZX81 as a kid and various other home computers, so one day when I left College I applied for a job as desktop support in the Library at the University. Then I blinked, 28 years passed, and here I am.

What do you most enjoy about working here?

The University never stands still, it’s always evolving both inside and outside of IT, creating new challenges.

What’s your favourite film?

Ferris Buellers Day Off, I quote it regularly.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Right now, I’d like to visit anywhere outside of my house! I did go to Mauritius once, that was pretty close to paradise, but I’d only want to visit. Oh, I would like to go to the top of Old Joe!

If you could be any animal, which would you be?

A dog that lives in a pub, that sounds pretty good.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Probably the bull run at the San Fermin festival, Pamplona.

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

I think we’ve watched everything good on Netflix; currently watching some Welsh crime drama on iPlayer.

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

I work in IT, we don’t do cool 🙂

What are some of your pet peeves?

Traffic jams. Also, people who take the plug out of the socket, but leave the socket switched on at the wall.

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

A long time ago, very briefly, I was the youngest person in the world.

Which four individuals would you most like to eat dinner with?

  • Ayrton Senna – to get some tips
  • John F Kennedy
  • Queen Elizabeth II – I just want to hear her swear
  • Jenson Button – he’d be a laugh
Mark and friend with motorbikes
On a biking holiday with a mate of mine. We’re on the F1 racecourse in Reims!
Mark on a children's motorbike ride
My latest motorbike…?







Jake Foster
Advanced Research Computing Assistant (Industry placement)
Computer Centre, Elms Road

What do you do in IT Services and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?

I complete tickets created by users of BEAR services. I am also currently upgrading BlueBEAR, the high performance computing cluster to Centos8. If you are coming to me in person, it is usually because we broke something important.

What led you to this career?

A dislike for a commute greater than 20 minutes.

What do you most enjoy about working here?

The many diverse projects, from talking to potential users to upgrading infrastructure.

Who inspires you?

Every day I walk to work (around 8:45am), I see this guy sitting on the side of a wall, drinking a can of beer. Rain or shine, he is on this wall. His consistency is inspiring.

What’s the best concert you have ever attended?

An Olly Murs Concert at Newbury Racecourse. Celebrities being family friends makes parking and getting a good view much easier.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Antarctica. It’s the coolest place I know.

If you could be any animal, which would you be?

A sloth. I’d just hang around and not do anything. Kind of like what I’m doing now, but… slothier.

What are you passionate about?

Finding ways to make technology improve my way of life and increase productivity.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Once I ate an ‘After Eight’ mint at 7:55pm!

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

I prefer a good book to Netflix – I’m currently reading the Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan.

What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

Can’t say, as it is a secret project reviewing CentOS8.

Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?

Anyone living in Australia. That way I could see the scenery without the long flight or cost.

What are some of your pet peeves?

People who spell words incorrectly in public work.

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

Making up witty answers for Spotlight questions.

Which four individuals would you choose to eat dinner with?

  • Gordon Ramsay – I would be guaranteed good food. No one wants to get on his bad side.
  • Jimmy Carr – we’d need some mid-meal entertainment.
  • Brian Cox – his passion for tech is contagious.
  • Max, a friend from uni – no one would believe this meal happened if I didn’t have a witness!
Collection of books - The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan
Currently reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
Olly Murs singing and dancing with a microphone on stage, big screen behind him and keyboard/synth player
Best seats in the house for the Olly Murs concert at Newbury Racecourse









Chris Boshell
Head of Software Development and STARS Programme Architect
Computer Centre, Elms Road

What do you do in IT Services and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?

I’m Head of Software Development. You’d come to me for information about a software product/development or release. Staff in my area of Application Services would come to me to highlight the contribution they have made to various projects, or if they could contribute to any of our initiatives; or if any of them were going through a momentous decision in their career.

What led you to this career?

I needed to do something – I knew nothing about IT Software when I left Uni, so signed up for a Masters (Msc) in Computing Science at Aston University. I then worked in software houses and back at Aston before taking a position at the University of Birmingham.

What do you most enjoy about working here?

The people – and my dress sense when it comes to office attire!

Who inspires you? 

There are a few… Kurt Cobain, because of his music but also the trauma of his life and the mental health struggles  he had; Picasso, for his art as well as his battle for freedom and expression at the time when Franco ruled Spain from 1930s to 70s; Tony Benn, for seeing how things were and understanding what needed to change; and my middle daughter (I have three), for fighting so bravely and losing so much throughout her battle with leukaemia.

What’s the best concert you have ever attended?

The best gig I’ve ever been to was New Model Army in 2010. They’re a combo of rock, punk and folk; I got knock about a bit in the mosh pit!

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

The Lake District – you don’t need to go abroad to see some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet.

If you could be any animal, which would you be?

A Staffie [Staffordshire Bull Terrier]

What are you passionate about?

Football, running, cycling, my girls (including my Staffie, Pasha), justice and equality.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? (Climbed Everest, bungee jumping, hitchhiked around South America…)

I took my youngest daughter, Alice, with me to climb Helvellyn – a mountain in the Lake District – via a famously challenging route, Striding Edge. Alice was only 9 or 10 – and we had our (then) young and reckless Staffie with us too!

I’m a keen runner and cyclist, doing many events over the  years, including cycling sportifs going up Snowdon and in the Lake District in the middle of winter!

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

Henry VII

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?


Who would you most like to swap places with for a day? (Celebrity, family member, animal…)

Pasha, the pampered pooch!

What are some of your pet peeves?

Lack of integrity and honesty.

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

My vegan food is out this world (I’m lying, of course!)

Which four individuals would you most like to eat dinner with? (Can be modern or historic; family, celebrity – anyone of your choosing)

Karl Marx; Jesus; my grandmother; and Doris Lessing.

Chris Boshell with his dog, on a gravel pathway amongst lush green vegetation
Walking with Pasha
Chris Boshell's three daughters
My three daughters from left to right, Alice, Jade and Rosie
Chris Boshell's dog, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, in the sun, wearing a red harness
My Staffie, Pasha







Tara Lamplough
Head of Business Partnering
European Research Institute (ERI Building)

I’ve worked at the University, in a number of different roles, for nearly 20 years. I started off as a Website Editor in External Relations; my team was merged into IT Services, so I ended up here by accident! I’ve been in my current role as Head of Business Partnering for nearly 2 years – the time has flown by as it’s been very busy.

In this role, I enjoy looking to the future and where we, as a department, are heading. In our team, we regularly have the opportunity to make a positive difference at the University. This can be anything from really simple actions, like linking someone up with the appropriate IT service, to shaping the technology direction for a whole department for the next few years.

There are some great people both within IT and across the University – so the fact I get paid to spend time with people I like is a bonus. I don’t live far from campus, so I don’t have a tedious long commute; and it’s really enjoyable walking across our beautiful grounds, particularly in the summer months.

Outside of work, I love to travel. I particularly enjoy visiting places with interesting recent history, for example Vietnam, Russia, and Germany. I like to see how things have changed and speak to the people who’ve lived through it. Since I had my son, Bodhi, I haven’t had chance to travel long haul much. I am training him up to enjoy travel though! I do get a few opportunities for ‘girls weekends’ away in Europe each year, so this is keeping me going until I’m brave enough to try long haul with a five year old.

I like day tripping locally and getting outside in the sunshine (optimistically), particularly at National Trust or English Heritage sites. Bodhi takes up most of my spare time on the weekends, so I can often be found being a big kid – getting overly involved at the Trampoline Park, or LEGO Discovery Centre.

Tara climbing out of a tunnel from the Vietnam War
Climbing out of an underground tunnel from the Vietnam war
Tara and her son Bodhi smiling for the camera
My five year old son, Bodhi







Jane Adams
Computer Centre, Elms Road

I’ve worked in IT Services since June 2017. My role has evolved over the time I’ve been here – it’s busy and very varied.  Apart from greeting staff and visitors, I book travel for the department, order stationery and keep the Organisation Chart and email circulation lists up to date, along with other ad hoc tasks. I enjoy helping with the Christmas Shoebox Appeal, co-ordinating fundraising events like the Macmillan Coffee Morning and putting up the decorations at Christmas – I’m not so keen on taking them down afterwards though!

The University holds a bit of history for me – my parents met here as students. My late father worked here for many years, in the French and Linguistics Departments. When I was a child, he used to bring me to Staff House for lunch as a treat! The campus is a beautiful place to work, but mostly I love the people. My job means I get to meet and chat to lots of different people from all over the University.

I live in Harborne with my husband, Mike, my youngest daughter, Kat, my Cockapoo, Buddy, and my blind, elderly cat, Dylan.  My eldest daughter, Becca, lives and works in London.

I enjoy travel and have visited many parts of the world including Bali, Hong Kong and The Maldives.  I enjoy visiting the USA, especially the theme parks in Orlando. I lived in Boston for a year in 1990.

I worked as a TV extra and actor for many years – you might still see me pop up on Doctors on the BBC occasionally! I’ve appeared on Dalziel and Pascoe – roles including CID, Meals on Wheels Lady and Corpse – Casualty, Crossroads, Cutting It and Brum.

I once acted alongside Felicity Jones in a short film – and I was killed by Matthew Kelly in Cold Blood! I’ve also been a witch at the Birmingham Rep in Roald Dahl’s The Witches and have performed with the Birmingham Royal Ballet as an actor, most recently in Sleeping Beauty.

Jane and her family standing with Chewie from Star Wars
Meeting Chewie in Orlando
Jane in period costume - a black dress with bustle and head dress
In full costume at the Birmingham Royal Ballet
Jane, her husband Mike, and two daughters in wedding attire
On our wedding day






Debbie Carter
Research Training and Engagement Officer
Elms Road

My name is Debbie Carter and I am a Research Training and Engagement Officer for the Advanced Research Computing (ARC) team or BEAR. Believe it or not, I’ve been working at the University for 17 years in total. I previously worked in e-learning – when I started we were known as Information Services and I was actually in the same team as some current ITS staff. I’ve been working in IT Services for the last 2 years.

What is great about my role in ARC is being able to meet lots of different researchers and finding out about the research activity that we support with BEAR services. It feels really important and valuable to play a part in facilitating this knowing that the work we do does make a difference.

The things I love most about working at the University are the variety of opportunities, the people, and the fabulous campus- I love visiting Winterbourne.

Some of you may know that I am a self-confessed chocoholic and I absolutely love chocolate. I was once lucky enough to get an exclusive, behind the scenes tour of the Cadbury factory – I was so excited it was literally like winning a golden ticket!

Outside of work, I spend much of my time visiting National Trust properties and other exciting places with my son Ben. Warwick Castle and Drayton Manor are our favourites. Ben loves doing anything to do with computers and says that he wants to join the BEAR team.

Two weeks ago I got to sit next to Maggie Aderin-Pocock at a conference. She’s the presenter of The Sky at Night – the world’s longest running science programme. She was very lovely and a very inspirational speaker. The unexpected perks of work.

I also technically hold a world record! I participated in an Awesome Authors world record attempt on CBBC’s Newsround to create a huge wall of words for the “most contributions to a text collage” record. Everyone had to write one word on to a “brick” sticker and add it to the wall. It had to reach 2,000 words to set a new world record and Newsround’s Martin was there when it hit that magic number.

Finally, I am always on the lookout for bears and now seem to have a “bear radar” as I manage to find them everywhere I go.

Me and my son Ben
Maggie and I
The bear hunter







Liz Simcox
Head of Project Office
ERI Building

I have worked at the University as Head of Project Office for just over 3 years.  I started my career in the private sector, then moved to Staffordshire University before coming here.  My background was in application development, I previously managed a software development team, then advanced into a portfolio management leadership role about 13 years ago.

I enjoy the variety in my role, the involvement in a number of areas across projects, demand, finance and procurement, and within this, the involvement and the ability to make a difference to the approach we take as a service, and also to many key institution projects.

In recent months, it has been really interesting to work on the draft IT Strategy and to have the opportunity to widen out the conversation across the Service through the recent workshops.

I love working within IT Services and think that this is the one of the friendliest place I have worked, both service wide and within my team.

Quite a few people know that I enjoy running.  I only started running about 5 years ago with a beginners group and since then I have run 2 marathons, London and Manchester, my fastest 4 hours 1 min and 13 seconds.  Now after being injured for almost a year, I have finally been able to get back into it. Ultimately, I would love to do a sub 4 marathon but I am not sure whether my mind will win over my knee!

I come from Staffordshire and have 2 kids, 2 cats and 2 dogs and my largest cat is a ginger Maine Coon cross and actually bigger than one of my dogs.

One of my most interesting work moments is implementing a software solution in an unfinished factory set in the Romania countryside, in the middle of a snowy winter, with no doors and windows and an open prison next door!

Big cat
Marathon running






Dan Lawrence
Director of IT Services
Elms Road

I’ve been at the University for four years in October initially as Deputy Director of ITS and then for the last 12 months as Director of ITS, which has enabled me to take a far more strategic view of what ITS can deliver for the University Strategy and the appetite for Digital Transformation.

Taking the opportunity to focus inwardly on ITS to ensure that we are operationally effective and prepared to take the University in the direction it wishes to go with its ambitious plans for 2026 is an interesting challenge but one I enjoy. It’s important to maintain the balance between the inward view with the outside view, helping build our already strong profile within the institution as well as looking to shape best practice with other Universities with similar challenges; and exploring opportunities outside the sector that will help shape our delivery model going forward.

Genuinely, the most enjoyable part of working here, is the people.  The staff in ITS are the most committed dedicated people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. There is no doubt that the last couple of years, in particular, have been hugely demanding and challenging due to the project portfolio, but the blend of skills and willingness to overcome that challenge is incredible. We are now in a far better position to manage that demand going forward through the engagement undertaken, so opportunity to provide more interesting opportunities through the Digital Strategy will hopefully provide real benefit to the teams.  I also enjoy the openness of the sector and the willingness to share knowledge and experience. HE is a really unique sector to be part of!

Outside work, I’m interested in sport…. I’m a member of Cheltenham Racecourse, Warwickshire Cricket Club, an avid Watford fan, and I spend a lot of my time flying back to Dublin to watch Leinster and Ireland.

I also run a lot, (too much), and undertake 3-4 marathons a year when I’m not broken.

For anyone that thinks they might recognise me from somewhere…. I was an extra on Street Fighter starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue, and yes, it was as good as it sounds!

I was also once held  up by Mexican Bandits…… But that’s a story for another time.






Dominic Cross
Health and Safety and Building Coordinator
Elms Road

My name is Dom Cross and I’ve been working at the university for about two and a half years, mostly in the College of Arts and Law but I recently moved over to IT Services as Health and Safety and Building Coordinator. What I find most interesting about my role is I get to see the details that a lot of people miss, for example, when someone reports an issue that might seem simple and straightforward, I‘m curious to understand how these things happen and how it all works. My job is also pretty dynamic, which is what I like best about it. Each day is different and comes with its own challenges that keep it interesting and fresh.

One of the first jobs I ever had was working with a company that built the stages for large venues in Birmingham. I’ve set up the stages for huge acts such as Muse, James, Carlos Santana and loads more which was great for me as I love music. I’ve been a DJ for a few years and have played at a few club venues around Birmingham, I currently have a resident set at the Night Owl in Digbeth on their Come Together club nights. I also enjoy going to gigs and try to go as often as my budget will allow!

Over the years I’ve met a few famous people through the DJing but I must admit I’m not very good at it. I’ve met The Beat, Ocean Colour Scene, even Toyah Wilcox but it’s usually been after a few drinks…and so I’ve embarrassed myself every single time.

DJing at Hare and Hounds
DJing at Hare and Hounds
Quadrophenia 40th anniversary






Profile picture of Nikki Dutton with SnapChat filter bunny earsNikki Dutton
IT Service Desk Manager
IT Service Desk, Main Library

I started work on the IT Helpdesk in October 1996, just at the time IT and Library services merged to become Information Services and the Helpdesk moved from Elms Road to the old Main Library. The merge didn’t last long, but the IT Helpdesk (now the IT Service Desk) remained in the Main Library continuing a good relationship with Library services.

I have moved around a bit during my time here; to second line IT support in the Med School for a few years, then secondments to the Planning Office, Project Office and Registration Helpline team leader, before coming back as Assistant Service Desk Manager and then landing the Service Desk Manager role where I’ve been for the last 10 years!

Even after all this time I still enjoy what I do, I love the campus and am surrounded by a great bunch of people who are innovative, professional and always looking to improve, which keeps me motivated.

I live with my husband Craig, daughter Connie and our 3 year old boy Nelson (Cocker spaniel) named after Nelson Mandela after a few trips to South Africa. He’s very cheeky and basically eats his way through life, which has so far been very expensive for us following 3 operations to remove objects from his intestines!

Most of our time is taken up following Connie around the Country, as she plays netball and football for County and Clubs at under 16 level. She plays GD for her Ryland netball club and plays football, either as a striker or winger for Birmingham City (Blues) Women football. We’ve just come back from a successful football tour in Holland over the Easter break and after a win against Bristol City on Saturday the girls have won their league with one game in hand. With all this footie, I think I’m finally getting to grips with the offside rule!

picture of Connie playing football
picture of Nikki and husband Craig
Nikki and Craig
picture of Nikki's dog Nelson






Profile picture of John Owen



Emma Wade
Project Manager

Project Office, ERI Building

I’ve worked for the University for over 7 years now. I moved to Birmingham in Sept 2011 and started my role here in IT Services 2 days later, originally on a fixed term contract as the network refresh project manager and then became a permanent member of staff around a year later. Previous to this I was a project management specialist with Accenture in Newcastle.

I love being involved in all networky type things especially learning about the new builds we have on campus and have also become slightly obsessed with all things Wi-Fi and am regularly found walking around looking for access points in various places. What I enjoy most about working at the University is the people especially within the infrastructure team, the network chaps and my team mates in the project office but all in all the people IT are generally a good bunch.

Most of you won’t know this about me but I once appeared as an extra in the greatest kids TV show ever to come out of the North East, Byker Grove. Outside of work I love attending sporting events, gigs and festivals. My favourite festival is definitely Glastonbury which I have attended about 11 times over the years. My favourite headliners vary between the Rolling Stones, Nile Rogers and Chic and Stevie Wonder. My favourite sporting event to date was the Ryder Cup in Paris but I also love a trip to Twickenham to watch the rugby.

And finally it’s time for the obligatory interesting fact – I am originally from Hartlepool which was the first place on mainland Britain to be bombed by the Germans in WWII. My great grandma and grandad first met sheltering from the bombing! Unfortunately, Hartlepool is more widely known for hanging a monkey during the Napoleonic wars who they thought to be a French spy, he couldn’t answer their questions unsurprisingly!

Ryder Cup






Sekela Mwandosya
Desktop IT Support Apprentice

College of Life and Environmental Sciences

I’m from Tanzania and I visit my family every December. We usually go to the village for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

I joined IT Services in September 2018 as a Desktop Support Apprentice. Prior to that I was working in Library Services, splitting time between the Main Library and the Barber Fine Art Library. I was with library services from 2004.  I also have an MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree from this University as well. My dad is also an alumni of the University having graduated with a PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1977.

In my current role every day is different! I’m constantly learning, I’ve also had the opportunity to shadow other teams within IT Services (the Service Desk and the Network team).

What I love about my role is that I have the chance to work in different schools from one end of campus to another, where I meet a lot of interesting people. My manager and the whole team are great, very helpful and supportive. There are lots of opportunities to learn and develop all kinds of skills via the POD team and courses from ITProTV and QA!

When I’m not at work, I enjoy reading fiction. I’m working on reading more non-fiction and I’ve started reading Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future by L.A. Schlesinger, C.F Kiefer and P.B. Brown.

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to do a CCNA Routing and Switching course when I started the apprenticeship. So that is what I spend every other Saturday doing this year.

I’m proud to say I can swim now. Having learnt not too long ago as an adult!

Just start
Me with my mum, dad and younger brother
The view from the family home in Tanzania






Nic Doran
Head of End User Services
Computer Centre, Elms Road

I have been working at the University for about 15 months, 10 months in my current role as Head of End User Services. What I find most interesting about the role is the diversity of the areas supported by End User Services; from brain scanners to earth quake simulators, it’s exciting to see the direction that technology will take for both teaching and research over the next 5 years and being in a position to be able to shape our adoption of that. I also really enjoy the people here in both my team and in IT Services, which is by far the friendliest department I have worked in in 20 years.

I guess there isn’t a lot about me that people don’t already know as I tend to be an open book. Outside of work I have two overwhelming passions. I both write and participate in large and small scale live role-playing events; this involves writing scripts, building props, organising sites and spending an inordinate amount of my time either wearing a high visibility jacket managing customer’s experiences or wearing very silly clothes pretending to be someone else fighting evil monsters. In addition to this, I enjoy playing and devising escape room games, where between 2 to 6 people are locked in a room with 60 minutes to solve clues and puzzles that will get them the code to free themselves.

Ruined temple pirate set

Last August I designed and built (with a team of volunteers) a set piece for a 3000 person festival which was 120ft long and 60ft wide. It contained a crashed pirate ship, temple and ruins.  I’ve won several national awards for running Live Action Role Playing events including immersive horror events and family friendly festivals.

Here are some other random facts about me that you may not know. I have four cats, one of whom suffers from a form of cat epilepsy; I once heard Penn from Penn and Teller speak; I am spending a night at the Natural History Museum in May; I was once on children’s TV; I love owls; Last year I visited Alpingi, the world’s oldest parliament in Iceland as part of a whirlwind tour; in July I am walking 26 miles in one day for Macmillan Cancer and finally Chris Withers and I are planning to walk over hot coals in aid of St Basils Hostel in February so please feel free to make a donation on our charity page here.

Live role-playing
One out of four cats
More role-play with shield








Katy Leighfield
CX and Communications Manager
Computer Centre, Elms Road

Less than three full weeks in to my new role, I’m enjoying meeting you all and learning as much as I can about IT Services. Without IT, important things wouldn’t happen at the University of Birmingham and the opportunity to help the team position the work you all do as a key enabler of important things is what appealed to me about this role. Thank you all very much for the warm welcome I’ve received, you’ve made me feel right at home.

In 2004, whilst working for the NHS in Nottingham, I somehow found myself cleared as an official photographer for HRH Prince of Wales and was pleased as punch to discover that Charles is a surprisingly funny chap. A few weeks later I went travelling in Australia; somehow I ended up spending the next six years in South West Australia before driving across the Nullarbor Plain to relocate to Gippsland. I found myself working in Local Government, where I spent some very happy years helping make council red tape less painful for the 43,000 residents of my Victorian Shire. Highlights included change management for an office relocation and introduction of unified communications at the council, being the first to introduce sign language into council emergency communications, and gaining my Aussie citizenship in 2011.

I live with my other half, Andy, our two cats (Fifi, a very pretty ragdoll, and Kitty the hideous Persian) and our two dogs (Cooper, a small yellow yappy dog, and Daisy the naked Chinese Crested Hairless). Andy and I met on the train to school about 25 years ago. He was at KES and I was at KEHS (just over the road from the Barber Institute) and our mums still live round the corner from each other near Sutton Coldfield. Twenty years later, we reconnected, partly through the power of social media. Following a lot of travel backwards and forwards between the UK and Australia for a couple of years, I eventually came home for good in August 2017. Having spent my last couple of years in Australia fully renovating a lovely Edwardian railway cottage, we’ve got the restoration bug, and Andy and I are hoping to take on another project back here in the UK in the not too distant future. In the meantime, we rather enjoy building LEGO!

You’ll find me in room 104 at Elms Road. Please feel free to drop in and say hi if we haven’t yet met.

Our renovated house in Australia
Grumpy cat
Katy and Andy








Nic Rowley
Incident and Continuity Manager
Computer Centre, Elms Road

I’ve been working at the University for the last 6 months. Before that I worked as an IT Process Improvement consultant and I’ve spent many years in IT Operations and Service Management. What I love about my job is that it’s really varied; rarely are two days ever the same and you have to be on your toes. There’s always lots going on but I like the pace.

The thing I enjoy most about working at the University is the people. We’re a relatively new team but it feels like we’ve been together for ages. There is a great sense of camaraderie and fun in the way we approach work which is refreshing and I’m glad to be a part of it.  Governance can be a dry subject.

Outside of work I enjoy playing sport. As a junior I played a lot of tennis and squash so I pretty much like all racket sports.  I’ve also trained in Aikido on and off for the last 10 years. As a kid I also used to ice skate competitively and have been in several pantomimes on ice.

I recently got engaged so I spend a lot of my time up in Durham with my fiancé which means a lot of commuting. You could also say that wedding fairs have become my new hobby. But I do love to travel and my ambition is to visit all the European capital cities. I’m averaging about 2 a year at the moment and I’m off to Prague for New Year’s Eve.

When I was a kid growing up, I met lots of famous people through my dad’s work in the press. The most famous probably had to be Muhammad Ali, but I was so young at the time I didn’t really get how big a deal it was.

Meeting Muhammad Ali
Causey Arch in County Durham
Climbing Snowden






 Faith Thomas
IT Service Introduction Specialist

IT Service Desk, Main Library

I started at the University in January 2018, in the newly formed Service Introduction team within Service Management. It’s been great, joining the team right from the beginning and being involved with the strategy.

I enjoy hearing about all the new and enhanced services that we’re about to release – it’s really rewarding to help oversee the transition into live service. My colleagues in Service Management are so friendly, funny and helpful – they make me laugh, sometimes until I cry!

I studied Graphic Design and Visual Communication at University; I love to draw and paint, although I don’t get as much time to do this as I’d like. I’m also an amateur photographer; a lot of my photography is family orientated but I also love close-ups of nature. You can find me on Instagram – Harper Olive Photography.

I have four sons, aged 7 to 18; they’re all made about computers. We have a Dogue de Bordeaux – like the dog from Turner and Hooch – named Bailey; and a black cat called Mani, who recently had kittens.

I’ve only been driving for a year, after taking an intensive 40 hour course in July 2017. I passed my test first time, and within two week I was driving all the way to Devon. Sadly, the perfect record didn’t last – last October, two days before my interview for this job, I crashed my car and wrote it off! My kids have nicknamed me ‘Mum Wick’ – apparently I drive like John Wick from the films of the same name.

Bailey and a kitten
My second car – after writing off the first!
Photography – on holiday in Woolacombe






Rai Furniss-Greasley
Desktop Support Technician
B Block, Aston Webb

I’ve worked at the University for 6 years – 5 years at the Service Desk, and the last year in my current role. I’m really enjoying the variety of my new role – from researching the best hardware for a specific job, to designing new processes and workflows, to unpicking bizarre errors. I’m doing my ILM Level 2 qualification so am also enjoying the learning aspect.

The best things about working here are the beautiful campus, and the people. I’m lucky to work with such a nice bunch and have made friends out of colleagues.

You may not know this, but I’m originally from Essex; I have also lived in the Basque Country and Germany. I still speak Spanish now, though my German and Basque is a little rusty.

I’ve been working in some form of IT role for over half of my life now, starting out with summer jobs when I was younger. I’m a self-confessed nerd – I like computers! I play a lot of games – both tabletop and computer – and co-produce a podcast with Matt Warwick, called The Offline Gamer.

I’ve recently started exploring an interest in powerlifting, originally in an effort to get fitter. I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve entered a strongwoman contest, taking place in April 2019!

I once met Dom Howard & Matt Bellamy from the band Muse, in the Science Museum gift shop. I’ve also met Colin McFarlane [Commissioner Loeb in the Nolan Batman films] while I was on work experience in a recording studio 15 years ago.

I have a cat called Noomi, who we adopted last year, and a semi-stray who appears to have adopted us, called Scout.

Rai and Noomi
At the bar…
Rai in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country






Tim Packwood
IT Innovation Specialist
Innovation Centre, ERI Building

I’ve worked at the University for almost three months. I previously worked in Higher Education and the NHS in Healthcare Science.

In my new role, I’ll be working with teams across the University to develop the use of new and emerging information technologies. This could mean anything from using new software development frameworks to developing mobile applications, or utilising machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tackle different problems. I will be working with a variety of different technologies – many of them outside of the traditional web development role, which is really cool.

I have a Masters degree in Education, with a focus on Digital Education. I’m equally passionate about digital education and software development. My wife, Amy, summarises it best: “He can bore you with views of pedagogy or code in equal measures!”

Outside of work, I enjoy watching American pro-wrestling matches. Amy is also a massive fan – we recently went to Monday Night RAW in London – it was epic! I also spend a great deal of time listening to comedy podcasts; my favourite is called ‘The Adventure Zone’. We plan to start our own, discussing important topics – such as the latest pro wrestling story lines, and Japanese anime.

I’ve also played guitar since I was 10 years old – I wanted to be in a heavy metal band, but settled for software development instead!

Lightsaber battle – an essential part of the wedding ceremony

Monday Night RAW in London






Shawn Smith
Second Line Team Leader
IT Service Desk, Main Library

I’ve worked at the University for almost three years. I started as an Analyst on the Service Desk; after a year I became a Technical Analyst and now I’m Second Line Team Leader. The best thing about my role is having the ability to improve how we deliver IT in a customer focused way.

I really enjoy seeing how awesome the Service Desk is and the positivity we bring; for example, when a student has lost their work due to their laptop dying over the weekend – once we have fixed it in the Laptop Clinic, seeing their reaction is so rewarding!

I originally went to college to study Music, with IT being a hobby. I was in a metal band for three years and wanted to tour the world! However, after realising the world wasn’t ready for my musical talent, I decided to bless the world of IT instead. I still love music and attend as many gigs and festivals as I can.

I’m also an avid video gamer. I play casually and competitively – I recently participated in a major European tournament for a video game called Super Smash Bros. in Sweden representing the UK! My favourite video game series is Final Fantasy.

I really enjoy travelling too – my favourite destination so far is Japan, where I spent a month travelling the country, seeing Kyoto, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Osaka.

At Download Festival with friends
Miyajima – a small island off the coast of Hiroshima
Taking in the views in Gothenburg, Sweden






Tarly Baley                                                                                                                            Desktop and Server Support Specialist – College of Social Sciences
Muirhead Tower

 I’ve worked at the University for 6 years, starting out as a Desktop Support Specialist in the Business School. I recently started a new role as a Desktop and Server Support Specialist, in the Back Office IT team in the College of Social Sciences. I’m really enjoying learning how the back office operates and developing my skills in this area; our team is really friendly and we work together well. For me, the best thing about working at the University is that it’s such a large and diverse place – you’re always meeting new people.

You may not know this about me, but before I got into IT, I used to be a musician! I was in the first Asian boyband with number one hits and albums in the charts. I toured the world with the band, sharing the stage with various celebrities including UB40, Girls Aloud and Westlife. I was even in a Bollywood film! I no longer play in a band, but music is still a big part of my life – at weekends, I can be found DJing at parties, for a friend who runs an entertainment company.

I’m also a big football fan – I support Aston Villa. I used to play 11-a-side football, many years ago, but nowadays I just stick to 6-a-side. I have had the honour of playing alongside several ex-professional football players, including Tony Daley, Des Bremner and more recently, Stiliyan Petrov.

Family life is very important to me. I have two daughters, aged 1 and 3 – running around after them certainly helps to keep me fit and active! 

DJ Tarly on the wheels of steel





Chris Miles
Change and Configuration Manager
Computer Centre, Elms Road

I’ve worked at the University since November 2017, so I’m still pretty new around here! I’m really enjoying my new role – there are lots of challenges to contend with. I previously worked for CGI in Bridgend; the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that at the University, people have more freedom to deliver things in their own way. It’s great to know that the work we do, here in IT Services, contributes directly to the education of the great minds of the future – rather than just some corporate stakeholders.

I’m from a village in South Wales called Glynneath. I’ve lived there my whole life – it’s been a bit of a culture shock, moving from rural south Wales to a large city. It’s pretty manic when I go home to visit – my brother and two sisters have started families of their own, so I have lots of nieces and nephews keeping me busy!

I spend a lot of my spare time walking. South Wales has some beautiful locations for hiking; my favourite area to walk is the Gower Peninsula.

I really enjoy reading – mainly sci-fi and fantasy; my favourite author at the moment is Brandon Sanderson.  The rest of my free time is spent gaming and watching films.

I went skiing for the first time last year, in Valmorel, South of France. I can confidently say I had improved by the end of the trip – I went from falling over a lot, to just falling over a few times! I can’t wait to go again this year.

Sgwd Gwladys Waterfall with my brother, sister, niece and nephew
Rhossili Bay – Gower
Trying not to fall over – Valmorel







Mat Butcher
Communications Officer
Computer Centre, Elms Road

I’ve been working at the University since 2015, having previously completed my MA in Film and Literature here in 2013. Prior to joining IT Services I worked for the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues as their communications and web officer and before that for external relations in the Business School. What’s great about working in communications is that no two days are ever the same and the role gives me the opportunity to be both creative and a problem solver.

Outside of work, I am a keen cyclist and like to take part in sportives. This year I volunteered as an official domestique at Birmingham’s inaugural Velo, providing fellow riders with mechanical assistance and moral support around the 100 mile course.

I’m a huge film fan and have a particular fondness for Hitchcock, Westerns and 70s Hollywood cinema. I also enjoy playing the guitar, attempting the piano and listening to music in any form – from old country and western to Jamaican dance hall to hip hop. I was a Mod back in the day and used to DJ around Birmingham in the late 90s and early noughties –  often at legendary Birmingham venue ‘Snobs’ (years before it moved from Paradise Circus) – playing 60s garage, Tamla, northern soul, jazz, funk and even a bit of disco. One of my proudest moments came when my son (then aged 6) danced on stage with Nile Rogers and Chic, although he claims his proudest moment is giving Grandmaster Flash a high five.

Me and my Vespa c1995
Sonny on stage with Nile Rogers
Cycling in Yorkshire







Harry Bamber
IT Service Desk
Main Library

I joined the University in 2016 as an apprentice – first based at the Service Desk, then over in MDS. Having successfully completed my twelve-month apprenticeship, I returned to the Service Desk as a Technical Analyst. I really enjoy interacting with our users and helping them to solve their IT issues. All the skills I learnt whilst doing my apprenticeship are coming in really handy – and I’m still learning now!

Outside of work, I play rugby at Sutton Coldfield RFC. I used to play for North Midlands and Warwickshire. My older brothers and dad played rugby, so I followed in the family footsteps. At home, I have my hands full with three dogs – all Cocker Spaniels, a very active and intelligent breed.

I also enjoy outdoor activities – such as camping, walking and kayaking. I’m currently working towards my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, having already completed Bronze and Silver. There are four sections to complete at Bronze and Silver level: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. For the Gold award, there is an additional section – Residential. This involves spending 5 days and 4 nights away from home, working on a shared activity with . It’s certainly challenging – but will be very fulfilling when I’ve completed it.

Walking in Snowdonia
Walking in Snowdonia
Kayaking in Kefalonia
Our three Cocker Spaniels





Li Zhao
IT Innovation Centre
ERI Building

I’ve worked at the University as an IT Innovation Specialist for the last five years. Part of my role involves raising awareness about innovation across the University. I really enjoy talking to our students – I’m constantly amazed by how innovative and creative they are! Technology changes fast – I’m intrigued by the changes that new technologies could bring to our work and life.

Outside of work – when I’m not busy with my two children – cooking is my main hobby. Before I came to the UK from China, I didn’t know anything about cookery! When I arrived here, I couldn’t find any Chinese food comparable to the style of my hometown, so that forced me to learn how to cook. My hometown is Nanjing – capital of the Jiansu Province – and is home to around 7.1 million people! Nanjing is particularly famous for its crispy duck – this is one of my favourite dishes to cook. The key is making the skin crispy and golden in colour.

We travel back to China almost every year to catch up with our extended family. My kids really enjoy seeing so many friends and relatives gathered together. We all dine at a big round table – being Chinese, food is very important! It can get very noisy and tiring, but the time is precious as we don’t get to see each other very often.

We celebrate the Mid-Moon Festival and the Chinese New Year every year. These dates are defined according to the lunar calendar, so they vary each year. To celebrate, we eat traditional Chinese food like moon cake, dumplings and spring rolls.

Beautiful scenery of Nanjing
Beautiful scenery of Nanjing
Dumplings, fried vegetables, roasted lamb leg and egg pancakes
Crispy rice, spicy fish, salted duck, sweet dessert soup







Natalie Gibbons
Bespoke Sustenance
Computer Centre

I’ve worked at the University for nearly 5 years, and have been in my current role for nearly a year. I love our beautiful campus – and the staff are pretty cool too!

No two days are the same here – there are so many varied technologies and services that the team looks after. I like knowing that I’ve created or enhanced a service that will be used by staff and students across the University.

You may not know that I’m an amateur artist and craftsman – in my spare time, I make board game pieces, jewellery and home decor. You can check out some of my creations on my Facebook page.

I enjoy crafting with a wide variety of media – recycled materials, glass, metals, wood – but I specialise in resin, a type of liquid plastic. This has resulted in some really cool creations – but also some crazy chemical reactions!

I have an eclectic taste in music and attend lots of gigs and festivals. One of the highlights of this year was going to see ska/rocksteady bands The Specials and Toots and the Maytals in Leeds. I also love travelling and visiting random places – like the Computer Games Museum in Berlin!

Craft items inspired by nature
Playing Pacman on a giant Atari 2600 console – Berlin
Resin rings






Luke Atterbury
Universal Services
90 Vincent Drive

I’ve worked at the University for almost 15 years. I used to be based in COLMDS but I’ve recently moved – my new role is in Universal Services. I’m really looking forward to being able to deliver things that affect the whole campus, both here and in Dubai.

I love that, at the University, we’re working for a great seat of learning and research – not just creating profit for shareholders. Also, my wife has worked here for 13 years, which is convenient!

Outside work, I enjoy going to gigs and music festivals. I have an eclectic taste in music – I’m currently into a Bosnian outfit called Dubioza Kolektiv. I saw them at a festival called Beautiful Days in Devon this year, it was out of this world!

I have a cat called Montgomery; we got him seven years ago from a rescue centre. He arrived at the rescue with a broken collarbone and leg – no one knows what happened to him. Even though he was still recovering from an operation, he saw us, jumped down and rubbed against our legs – we just had to take him home!

A few years ago, I organised a ‘banger rally’ – driving cars worth less than £200 to the south of Spain. 25 cars came along and we raised £30,000 for charity!

Beautiful Days festival
Beautiful Days festival
Banger rally - crossing the Millau Viaduct
Banger rally – crossing the Millau Viaduct







Ian Bowman
Head of End User Services
Computer Centre

I’ve been the Head of End User Services for the last two years, having worked in IT Services for seventeen years in total. I have found plenty of opportunities for continuous learning and development at the University. I’ve really enjoyed building relationships with individuals and teams, helping them to do the same.

My journey at Birmingham started in 1991, as a Sports Science student. Here I got my initial exposure to IBM PS/2 computers, the first mainstream web browser (NCSA Mosaic) and online Multi User Dungeon games – queuing in the Aston Webb basement to take my turn!

Outside of work, my passion is sport. I played football for many years and now my main sport is tennis. Last year, with Droitwich Tennis Club, I undertook the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowden in 24 hours – with the twist of playing tennis at the top of each! Despite temperatures ranging from 22˚C to -8 ˚C, we completed it, raising nearly £4,000 for Macmillan Cancer Research. After swearing never to do it again, we plan to give it another go in 2018!

When I’m not working or playing sport, family life takes over. I have two daughters, aged 13 and 11. Recently I’ve accepted I can no longer be “cool Dad” so am working on being “embarrassing Dad” – something I’m told I excel at!

Table top tennis
Stunning Snowden scenery
Stunning Snowden scenery
At the peak of Ben Nevis
At the peak of Ben Nevis





Tim Hall
Database Administrator
Computer Centre

I’ve been working in Application Services since 2012. There is always something new to learn in my role; I’m constantly picking up new skills, which I really enjoy.

I’ve been working with Oracle technology for 22 years, and have been blogging and publishing articles on my site for 17 of those. I’ve produced over 800 articles on all things Oracle!

My blog was recently ranked third out of sixty in a list of Oracle blogs and websites for Oracle Database Administrators. I’ve contributed a lot to the Oracle community; this was officially recognised in 2006 when I was invited to become an Oracle ACE.

In addition to my website, I speak at conferences all over the world – I have seven scheduled this year. My favourite destination is Bulgaria; I’ve been six times so far. It has the feel of a family wedding – without the fights! Interestingly, the audience in Bulgaria is made up of about 40% women, which is unusual for the “tech crowd”. This level of gender diversity is reflected throughout the tech sector over there – a different story to the UK.

My interests aren’t all Oracle related – I’m also a qualified yoga instructor! This came about after injuring my back in 2002; yoga helped me to get over my injury and I continued from there.

Oracle Code : London
Oracle Code : London
Original Oracle nerd!
Original Oracle nerd!
A captivated audience
A captivated audience





Cathie Dingwall
Head of Service Management
Computer Centre

I’m the Deputy Head of Service Management (Acting Head since September 2016). I’ve worked at the University for 19 years! I enjoy working on a beautiful campus surrounded by lovely architecture.

I love knowing that, when I walk to work, I’m walking over a Roman hill fort and road over 2000 years old – Metchley Fort and Icknield Street.

What you may not know is that I was a museum curator for ten years – six years of which were at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Whilst there I published a book called “Surfers Soulies Skinheads and Skaters: Subcultural Style from the Forties to the Nineties”. I also dated the singer, David Gray, from 1986-89!

In my spare time I enjoy gardening; my garden is a south facing sun trap, perfect for sunbathing in. I spend a lot of time making it look beautiful. The theme is pink and purple flowers – no yellow or orange! – so it is all coordinated.

I go on around four holidays each year, including a European city break and a sun holiday. I recently visited Tallinn (Estonia) – a medieval walled city, perfect for me as I love architecture, archaeology and history. I spend my sun holiday on a lounger by the pool, listening to audio books.

My garden
My garden
Sun holiday in Mijas
Sun holiday in Mijas







Matt Warwick
IT Service Desk Technical Specialist
Main Library

I’ve worked on the Service Desk for 5 years. I’ve recently become the first Service Desk Technical Specialist – I get to play with and learn about lots of interesting new systems and technology! I really enjoy interacting with our end users, helping to solve their issues.

When I’m not at work, photography is one of my main hobbies! I attend lots of events that give me the opportunity to take photos with my Canon DSLR. I’m a huge sci-fi fan so attend a lot of Comic-Cons; I’ve met a number of stars from the Star Trek and Stargate franchises at these events. I’ve also met and had an autograph from radio and TV presenter Nicholas Parsons!

I’m a keen motorsports fan as well; I attend the British Grand Prix at Silverstone every year, as well as various British Touring Car races.

Gaming is my other hobby – I started out PC gaming, but recently got into table-top/board gaming. I enjoy it so much that I’ve started a podcast/blog, called The Offline Gamer, with my colleague Rai Furniss-Greasley! We also attend the UK Games Expo every year at the NEC, to see what exciting new features are up and coming in the board gaming world.

Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari - British Grand Prix 2016
Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari – British Grand Prix 2016
Sir Patrick Stewart & son - Destination Star Trek
Sir Patrick Stewart & son – Destination Star Trek
Gordon Sheddon - British Touring Car Championship 2016
Gordon Sheddon – British Touring Car Championship 2016






Lucy Turner
Receptionist and Administrative Assistant
Computer Centre

I’ve been working for IT Services as a Receptionist/Administrative Assistant since June 2014. I enjoy helping people to resolve queries, organise meetings, and deal with HR related issues.

What you may not know is that I’m a keen equestrian! I spend most of my free time working for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), caring for horses and occasionally taking riders out on roads and bridleways. When I’m not working, I’m out riding a 12 year old gelding called Bruce. I’ve been bringing him back into working condition after he suffered a serious injury. He’s improved so much now that I plan to compete him locally in dressage and showjumping classes over the summer.  Bruce can be quirky at times, but he’s great fun and very handsome.

The RDA is a wonderful cause providing life-changing therapy, achievement and enjoyment to people with disabilities. I’ll be holding a fundraising event for the charity later in 2017 – I’ll keep you informed!

The other love of my life is my dog, Frank the Manchester Terrier! He can be mischievous, but he gets away with it because he’s so cute. I enjoy taking him for country walks – in fact, he goes everywhere with me!

Dressage on Willow
Dressage on Willow
Bruce and Frank
Bruce and Frank
Trail hunting on Fairy
Trail hunting on Fairy