Graduate shares computing expertise at global conference
A University of Wolverhampton graduate took to the global online stage recently when he shared his expertise at a global conference.
Ricki West, a Computer Science Master’s degree graduate who studied in the University’s School of Mathematics and Computer Science, took part in IBM Z Day - a global on-line conference introducing people round the world to new ideas in enterprise computing.
Ricki who completed his studies in 2019 is now an Associate Db2 & CICS z/OS Consultant at BMC Mainframe Services (previously RSM Partners) on its graduate programme, Mainframer in Training (MIT), based in the company’s Bromsgrove office. He is also a 2021 IBM Champion.
In a session titled “Into the Mainframe: How to get in and how to get on”, Ricki and his former University lecturer, Dr Herb Daly, discussed the specific challenges of being an early career Mainframer, taking questions from people around the world.
Mainframes are a specialist computing platform designed for enterprise scale processing used extensively by banks, airlines and major retailers processing billions of transactions every day.
Ricki and Herb were joined by Piara Bhama, a specialist from Lloyds Banking Group, discussing experiences and practical ways to make progress as the newest generation on the IBM Z platform.
Ricki said: “When I was studying at the University, Herb introduced me to mainframes and encouraged students to attend key mainframe conferences and after attending a GenZ workshop at RSM’s headquarters, I was inspired to establish a Mainframe Student Society (MaSS).
“When I was finalising my Master’s degree, Herb mentioned the RSM Partners’ MIT programme and that it was looking for a Customer Information Control System person. I like the idea of mainframes: solid, old school, hard coding: what I’d call proper computing. I’m really interested in that solid coding, backroom programming, rather than front end artistic graphical design. I understand usability, sure, but I also like logical stuff: what’s going to happen, and how.
“Mainframes provide graduates with an edge. After we’d set up Wolves’ mainframe student society, we organised a trip to the IBM Research Labs at Hursley, which included workshops and a tour. More recently, I was at the Wolverhampton Students’ Union Freshers Week to promote the society to the new intake of students with RSM sponsoring the society’s stand.
“Our goal is to get more students into mainframes. It’s difficult enough to find a job, so you need an edge. I think mainframe skills and knowledge give you that edge. Everyone who goes to university and does computing can pretty much build a website or do Windows programming. But most don’t know the mainframe, how its programming languages work – and the older generations of mainframers are retiring. It’s an opportunity.
“For students, getting into mainframes can be one of the best career moves they can make. It opens up so many avenues, across so many sectors, where you can use what you learn at university: programming, cyber security, web services and the mainframe; you can use all that, as well as applying your project management skills. And you can be sent all over the world. I’m very much enjoying the MIT programme.”
Dr Herb Daly said: “I’m really proud of what Ricki has achieved since winning a place on BMCs prestigious graduate programme Mainframer in Training (MIT).
“He has gained so much experience since he started and now manages the systems of some major household names.”
Ricki was a founder of MaSS – the University of Wolverhampton Mainframe Student Society, a group supported by industry partners. Students in the group take part in special events and activities, learning about the tech and meeting community practitioners.
Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.
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