On the sofa with Dave Swanston
As our GM of Telecoms, Dave is responsible for forging ahead with our vision to help fibre businesses and contractors work better together.
An ex-service man with years of industry knowledge, his career closely reflects the findings of our Fibre Workers Survey. Dave has first-hand experience of all the frustrations Pickr’s technology is designed to eliminate.
What does being a GM of Telecoms involve? How has your career to date informed your role at Pickr?
I’ve been working in the telecoms industry for 8 years and I’ve covered a lot of different roles in that time. I’ve seen the industry from all angles, so I feel like I’m well placed to help Pickr make the changes this sector so desperately needs.
For the last 3 months I’ve been building on the groundwork done by the team to really flesh out our fibre offer. That means getting out there and talking to businesses, using my insight to support product development and generally spreading the word about the benefits and efficiencies Pickr delivers.
My interest in communications started when I was serving in the British Army. I loved working with the tech and found the electric counter measures fascinating. I picked it up quickly and ended up heading up the ECM in a busy ops room on my second tour of Afghanistan.
Like a lot of service leavers, I decided to move into telecoms when I got home. The skills I’d acquired were a good fit so it was a natural choice. After a resettlement course I took at CTTS, I quickly landed my first role as residential installer followed by a varied career of splicing, testing and field management. The variety of roles I’ve worked in mean I understand the needs of our customers and will be seeking to support them wherever I can.
Like 40% of fibre workers who entered the industry through a career changer, you have a military background. Why do you think the industry attracts such a high level of service leavers?
For me it was word of mouth. I knew a couple of guys on resettlement whilst I was posted to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. They spoke passionately about the course they’d just been on at CTTS and how the Telecoms industry was thriving with no signs of slowing down. I looked into it further and there were so many examples of service leavers doing well within the industry, which paired with the natural crossover of skills, made it an easy choice to move into for my second career.
Ex-military personnel are not only very adaptable to change but they almost thrive on it, and the telecoms industry is ever changing and evolving. They also think quick on their feet and can overcome most problems themselves before seeking help.
Punctuality and a willingness to succeed are also key factors and I think that’s what makes them so attractive to employers. There’s so much work to be done, particularly from an FTTP perspective, that this industry offers great longevity. That’s something many service leavers look for when leaving the military.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to the UK’s full fibre roll out? How do you think we can solve them?
There are numerous challenges we face when it comes to upgrading and rolling out the new full fibre infrastructure, especially in rural locations. One of the biggest challenges comes from the lack of skilled personnel. Yes-the industry needs people with the correct qualifications but experience is hugely important. Creating a strong community of fibre professionals using simple and effective technology is one solution to a number of issues faced by the industry.
There are some amazing engineers out there that struggle to find fluid work, get paid and get paid promptly. On the other side of the coin, there are businesses who face huge time pressures and struggle to find the quality and quantity of people they need to get the job done to the standard they need. Pickr’s entire concept is to make it easier for the two parties to come together to do the essential work. I’m excited to be part of an ambitious team who are making that possible.
If you’d like to learn more about how Pickr could better connect your business to the skilled contractors you need, Dave would love to speak to you. Please get in touch with him on firstname.lastname@example.org.