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Allstate Northern Ireland benefits.

Tim Dougan, Production Control Analyst, Product Operations, Allstate Northern Ireland

Allstate Northern Ireland Tim Dougan, Production Control analyst.

1. What is Product Operations?

Production Control monitors all aspects of the Mainframe environment comprising Z/OS and AS400. We are the first to respond to batch abends in these environments and we also manage any issues that arise from within the infrastructure itself. When it is not possible for us to resolve an issue, we contact whichever application or infrastructure team that supports the failing component and facilitate their work towards a resolution.

2. Is it 9-5?

No, I work shifts which run from 4:45am to 1:15pm GMT seven days a week, 365 days a year. Working these hours can be challenging but it also provides many advantages. Avoiding rush hour both to and from work saves several hours of wasted time per week, and having every afternoon free offers a lot of flexibility to deal with responsibilities outside of work. Also, anyone working a non-standard shift pattern is paid extra for coming in early or staying in late, which is an added bonus!

3. How did you get into this line of work?

I joined Allstate NI from a conversion program run by the Department of Education and Learning which took in graduates of degrees without business applications (English in my case) and provided us with entry level qualifications in Computer Science. Allstate NI was a big step up from the call centre work I found after completing my degree.

4. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work?

The processing that we monitor is in many cases tied to Service Level Agreements and on a busy day it is normal to find yourself spinning a lot of plates at the same time. You have to juggle investigation and resolution of individual issues, communicate with teams working towards resolutions outside of our control, make sure impacted business areas are informed of the current state of play, and maintain a record of all that has been done. It can become quite demanding, but if you keep a cool head it can be very rewarding to see a big wall of red text gradually erode away and be replaced by green.

5. What do you like to do in your spare time and who has inspired you most in your life?

Using the days I get back from working weekends, I am currently completing a part time degree in Computer Science at the University of Ulster. I also read a lot and have recently taken up swimming, which is so far the only fitness activity in which I have been unable to injure myself.

I finished first in my year in my English degree, but I have always been fascinated by science. When I was a kid I read everything I could find written by the physicist Richard Feynman. It was amazing to me that someone could do such profound work, while at the same time be so full of life. I think that Feynman, along with the journalist Hunter S. Thompson have been my greatest inspirations — free thinkers who could see things as they were.

6. What does the future hold for the IT sector?

The IT sector continues to boom and shows no signs of ever stopping. Getting into IT is probably the best guarantee of a prosperous future available in Northern Ireland right now and it is a decision I am very satisfied to have made.

Allstate Northern Ireland benefits.

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