Introducing...Alan Mack

Alan_Mack

We sat down with Alan Mack, Technical Architect based at PCC Sunderland, who has recently joined the business. We spoke to Alan about his role, his experience with PCC so far, and the meaning of the word 'Hoobajoob'.

Hello Alan. We’ll get right into it. What’s your job and what does that involve?

Ok, so I’m a Technical Architect, and my role is to support the projects going on across PCC from an IT and Technology point of view. I make sure designs are following the required standards. There needs to be someone who has a view of all the projects going on here, from a compliance point of view, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

And that someone is you.

Yes, basically, I’m the person who knows how everything fits together, and checks to see whether they’ve been put together properly.

Fantastic! So, what’s your background?

I started by doing a computer science degree and have worked in IT for years now, from PC and desktop support up to where I am now. I spent three years living in Holland as a contractor, and then I’ve been in Switzerland for the last 17 years working for Nestle. I’ve now come back to my roots in the North East. It’s been great coming back.

Well you don’t seem to have lost your accent (readers will have to trust me on that). What are your first impressions of PCC so far?

Everybody’s been really helpful and accommodating. Very enabling – people will constantly say that there’s no stupid questions, and they don’t assume you know everything. So if I ask them something they’ll go back to base principals to explain how things are developed, so we can all do our jobs. In lots of companies, things get very siloed, but here if people can help with information from outside their remit, they’ll do it. I’m going to be working across a variety of channels: inbound, outbound, non-operational. Everything really, including online projects, so I’m hopefully going to be meeting a lot of new colleagues over the next few months.

That’s great to hear! I know you’ve not been here very long, but you’ve worked in IT in some big organisations and I was wondering whether you’d recommend PCC to a young IT graduate just starting out?

Definitely. As long as you’ve got a good grounding in the basics, there’s enough going on here at PCC to fulfil those ambitions. Whether you want to move into X, Y, or Z, there’s something for everyone. And from a graduate’s point of view, you wouldn’t be influenced by other jobs you’ve done, and you could look with a green field approach – it’s actually a perfect grounding. When I discovered the size and complexity of PCC, it was a bit of a shock. The number of large businesses and institutions we’re reaching, not just in one way - across business services, consulting, digital communications - there’s so many different aspects to it.

Absolutely. It’s a lot to get your head round. What are your priorities at the moment?

I’ve got a number of new projects to work on, and also reaching out to various new colleagues to see how everybody fits in. I need to get information from PMs, project groups etc so I can get the information to do the designs - the plan is to 50% integrate myself into PCC, 50% into what our customers are expecting. And being an enterprise consultant, I’ve worked with a lot of external clients. So if a client wants to achieve X, I’ll find out who within the business can achieve this, take their plans, and turn them into a technical solution.

I think that’s quite enough about work, so I’ll move on to the proper questions. What did you have for tea last night?

Last night I was very healthy for once. I had a large baked potato with tuna salad mix. Usually it’s a Chinese takeaway but you’ve caught me on a good day. I do get in a lot of trouble – I love cooking and I make a lot of desserts. I make a lot of “cookie pies”.

You have my interest. What’s a cookie pie?

Basically it’s two big cookies sandwiches together with a filling – I’ve done one with that biscotti spread, another with mint aero, and another with caramel dairy milk in the middle. I’m also planning cookie cake balls, which are red velvet cake with cookie surround, like a massive Malteser. The problem is, I’m a Type 1 diabetic so I can’t really eat much of it. My fiancée’s put on about 10kg since meeting me.

You’re a man after my own heart Alan. What’s your favourite biscuit and why?

Viscount biscuits – the mint ones. Purely because when I was little I’d go round to my gran’s and she’d put out a plate of biscuits. There’d be everything there and you were only allowed one. I think I had a viscount once and was distraught at not having any more, they were so good. I couldn’t get them abroad, but when we returned to the UK my fiancée bought me a bag of them and I think I ate about 30. I really missed certain foods when I was away, so when I came back I went to B&M Bargains and spent about 150 quid. I came out with a trolley with about 30 Pot Noodles. Really exotic stuff like that.

I’ll prise myself away from questions about food now. Do you have any irrational fears or phobias?

I hate static heights. I don’t mind going up in planes and stuff like that – I’d be fine doing a parachute jump and I’ve actually taken flying lessons without any problems – but put me on the edge of a building or a cliff and I literally go to pieces. It’s not necessarily that I’m worried for myself, it’s others – I think they’re going to fall.

Do you have a favourite word?

“Hoobajoob”

I beg your pardon?

Hoobajoob. It can be anything, like “thingamajig”. I think the first time I heard it mentioned was on South Park and now I say it all the time.

I see! And do you have a word you hate?

It’s not necessarily the word itself, but I can’t stand it when people say ‘basically’ when whatever we’re talking about is not basic in any shape or form.

That’s a good pretty one actually. Where’s your favourite place you’ve ever been?

I’ll probably have to say Switzerland, because I became half-Swiss after living there for so many years. The process takes a lot to get through - so many interviews and documents you need to get right. The final interview is with 10 people - it’s like that scene from Flashdance – and they ask you loads of questions on everything from politics, history, culture.  

Well hopefully this has been a bit less intense. What superpower would you choose?

I think ironically, flying. You can zoom around, get in and out of places. Go on holiday without worrying about flights getting delayed by covid, that kind of thing.

Thanks Alan!