Q&A with Faye Exton, OCF Head of Operations
In the next Q&A blog to celebrate OCF’s 20th anniversary, Head of Operations, Faye Exton who has been here since the start, explores OCF’s culture and how she credits the people for our success.
When did you join OCF and what was your role when you first started at the company?
I was with OCF from the start in 2002, having previously joined for a six-week holiday role, before starting my A Levels, but I never left. Initially I started with reception duties then moved into accounts as purchase ledger clerk, then transitioned into customer services for support sales, raising and selling contracts. So, I’ve had quite a journey.
What is your role now?
I am head of operations so lead the delivery and support side of the business including projects, engineering, managed services and end user support to name a few.
What achievements of OCF are you most proud of?
At a personal level, I am incredibly proud of how I have moved through the ranks at OCF, working in different departments to where I am today. I saw that as we evolved from pure hardware installation to cluster environments, there was a gap for project management services, so I initiated our first project management team. In 2005, I created the division from the ground up; I started with a vision, and a structured way of working, quickly jumped on the PRINCE2 framework becoming a practitioner, built processes and structure, and trained and developed a team.
Company wise, I’m proud of how we’ve adapted to market change and become a true expert in understanding customer requirements. All whilst creating a family orientated culture and a happy environment to work in.
That’s why most of us have been here for so long on this journey. It’s down to the culture and the huge respect we have for one another – that’s not usual for many companies, but for us it’s paramount.
What did the HPC environment look like 20 years ago and how has it progressed over the years?
HPC was just starting to really find its feet in the UK back in 2002. OCF’s involvement was transitioning from hardware implementation to cluster management software. The environments were at a much smaller scale and typically with only a small subset of users for a particular field of research back then.
As technology and understanding has developed, the use cases for HPC services have evolved. Access to HPC technology is now becoming much more common place and OCF aim to continue to support this upward trajectory.
How has the company and/or customer needs changed in your view over the past 20 years?
As HPC facilities have become more available, there has been a culture change on how companies and research departments can utilise the capabilities. Where initially we were seeing mainly science departments in 2002, the power of HPC is being realised across a diverse range of teams now such as English, tourist attractions and military protection systems. The visions and expectations are much more defined. They understand the technology as it has evolved and there is true collaboration. OCF try and encourage that culture by training, user groups and early age development such as apprenticeships.
What’s in store for this year and any big predictions?
For me it will be about streamlining OCF’s workflows. Adapting internal processes to support customers better. In addition, after two years of remote working, being able to get back together as a team is quite exciting; after all, it’s the people and our teamwork that has got us successfully to 20 years already. We’ll also be growing our managed services and storage teams to keep up with customer demand.
Predictions wise, AI will continue to play a big part in HPC and it will be our job to help customers understand the capabilities for today and tomorrow.