Sunday 26 March 2017
For ITI project manager Gary Kitchen, “your results are directly proportionate to the effort you put in.”
You might think he’s talking about the business of communications – and he is. But exactly the same philosophy applies to one of Gary’s biggest passions, playing golf.
Until 4 years ago, Gary, 33, had never picked up a 5-iron: football was his sport of choice for years after a degree in Sport and Leisure Management. Then at 29 Gary discovered the thrill of chasing perfection in putting and of the cleanly shot ball – and now he plays “as often as he can.”
Project management for ITI sometimes takes Gary all over the UK. Family and work are, says Gary, his top priorities, but reducing his golf handicap – currently 23 – is a pretty big ambition too.
Gary entered his first competition last year and reached the national final of the Morocco Matchplay event at Slayleigh Hall. “I was over the moon” he says, “and I’m practicing as often as possible, as you get out of golf what you put in.”
Modest Gary might not shout about his talents in the workplace, but he’s been instrumental in some of ITI’s successes and growth, according to commercial director Dave Newton, who has worked with Gary for over 10 years. “Gary’s been a stalwart in the ITI team” says Newton, praising his “reliability, expertise and work ethic” – and describing this as instrumental in ITI’s continued relationship with BT (read about our recent contract extension). “Gary and his delivery team have worked closely with BT for over 10 years, constantly delivering an outstanding service, long may it continue.”
Gary himself believes that part of the secret of his success is his previous experience working “on the tools, which means that in my management role I understand what the team are doing – and it’s good for them to know that I get it.”
What has changed the most in the communications industry over the past 10 years? “The industry has become more and more professional,” says Gary, “as the requirements for greater speeds and for increased data capacity have grown so dramatically. And everybody considers themselves to be an ‘expert’ since so many people carry a smartphone. Long gone are the days when we’d walk onto a site and install a single access point. Nowadays the average person is carrying three Wi-Fi devices, so clients have far greater bandwidth requirements. For instance, we install many more access points for businesses such as hotels now, giving greater density.”
And what about skills development in the UK? Many of Gary’s team of communications engineers are ex-forces (ITI was awarded the Silver Employer Recognition Scheme Award in 2016). “They all have highly transferable skills and experience,” says Gary, “Ex Royal Engineers and Signals engineers can adapt, learn and apply their expertise to a commercial setting. They’ve got the combination of practical, hands-on ability and strategic nous. Our technology is getting more and more sophisticated all the time – but you still need to be willing to pull cables and get your hands dirty.”
Besides family, communications and golf, what else makes Gary tick? Music is a big passion, preferably live: “the most memorable gig we’ve been to was The Stone Roses at Heaton Park,” he says; he and Nicola have also heard bands including The Arctic Monkeys, Florence + the Machine, and many more perform. “We love festivals too, though we don’t go to many these days. But we’re hoping to get tickets for Glastonbury when they go on resale in April, and I’ve booked for Jamiroquai in November.” Does he play an instrument himself? “No – but I’d love to have the time and patience to learn the guitar.” Golf might prevent that for a while, though.
Travelling is another of Gary’s loves: a holiday to Cuba with Nicola was particularly enjoyable for its combination of relaxation with the fascinating history of Havana. “The rum and cigars, the vintage cars, the history and fantastic live music made for a great trip.” So a holiday destination with a golf course must be high up the list of places to visit next. “Yes. With ITI continuing to work with great customers like BT and attracting exciting new clients, I’m looking forward to working in interesting sites. And you get back what you put in: if you work hard, you reap the rewards.” Expect that golf handicap to be in single figures soon.