Interview with ITAM Rising Star, Gemma Binnie

14 October 2022
8 minute read
ITAM News & Analysis

Interview with ITAM Rising Star, Gemma Binnie

14 October 2022
8 minute read

Ahead of this year’s ITAM Review Excellence Awards – which we are excited to say are back in their rightful place at the ITAM Review Gala Dinner on the 25th November 2022 (don’t forget to  purchase your tickets) – I had the opportunity to speak with last year’s Rising Star award winner, Gemma Binnie, ITAM Analyst at abrdn.

ITAM Rising Star

The Rising Star award is always an interesting category, as it gives us an opportunity to glimpse into the future of ITAM. How does this new generation see ITAM and where do they think it’s going? This interview explores a number of areas, such as the challenges and similarities when moving from SAM to HAM, why more people should consider taking the apprenticeship route into IT, and the challenges of working remotely.

  1. What did it mean to you, to win the Rising Star award last year?

It meant a great deal to me to win the Rising Star award. From the beginning of my ITAM career, I have been learning on the job so knowing my work is successfully making an impact and to be recognised for that, gives me a great sense of achievement, especially early in my career.

  1. ITAM is a very broad discipline. What parts of your ITAM role do you find most satisfying/impactful? Where do you feel you’re making the biggest impact?

One of the most impactful activities I find within my role, is completing re-certification activities. These activities give us a cleaner and more efficient estate with software vulnerabilities removed. Another large part of my role is working with the Procurement team on annual renewals where I can share details on licencing options and usage across our estate to ensure our renewals best suit our business requirements. Working on these renewals benefits me as I build on knowledge from various suppliers and the tactics they use.

  1. What has been the highlight of your career during the last year?

A highlight in my career during the last year is being able to get involved in various new activities which was not previously possible. This has included building knowledge within the hardware sector, assisting with procuring larger software contracts and project software roll outs. This has allowed me to broaden my knowledge and interact with a wider range of professionals in the business.

  1. You recently expanded your role into hardware asset management. How has that compared to the more “traditional” aspect of managing software

Managing hardware has been different but in some ways the same as managing software. It has been the same in the sense of we still have annual contracts, end of life dates and an inventory of all our assets to manage. However, it is different in that there are more technical details required and assets can change very quickly, for example – equipment breaks down and requires replacing urgently. Managing hardware also involves being more prepared as you cannot always gain and implement equipment as fast as software.

  1. You joined abrdn as an apprentice, which is still a fairly unusual route into the profession. What recommendations would you have for other people looking to begin a career in IT / ITAM? Would you recommend the apprenticeship route?

I would highly recommend the apprenticeship route. Learning on the job with ‘real life’ examples was invaluable. For me, being able to see the practices in person and the impact they have within the business is much more beneficial than reading a textbook. I started my apprenticeship and role within ITAM, with no experience as I came straight out of high school so don’t be put off by a lack of experience. It is achievable to start from the beginning and you will be amazed at how much at a fast pace you learn on the job.

  1. What were the highlights of your apprenticeship?

My apprenticeship with abrdn was not ITAM specific, it give me the opportunity to rotate with various departments in the business such as IT, Finance and Compliance. In the end I decided Technology was my favoured area, and an opportunity to be part of a new ITAM team became available. I am very thankful that my apprenticeship allowed me to try different departments to find which suited me best. Another highlight of this was being able to develop connections with a wide range of professionals across the business which to this day is still beneficial. I believe completing the apprenticeship gave me a great head start in my career where I could gain lots of hands-on knowledge from the beginning.

  1. You run the Software Approvals Board for abrdn. Tell me about this. How does it function? What improvements have you implemented etc.?

The Software Approvals Board allows abrdn to control any new software coming onto the estate to ensure it is suitable for use. Previously, it was a monthly meeting to consider submissions however I have worked this year to improve this system by creating an online forum where submissions are reviewed as they are received. This has significantly reduced the turnaround time and allowed projects to meet deadlines. The submission form has also been improved by moving it online rather than an Excel form therefore making it a simpler process for end users and allows better tracking of requests. I have received a lot of positive feedback from improving this process which is great.

  1. In your nomination, it stated you are keen to get more woman in the industry. What advice / encouragement would you offer to any young women who are considering a career in ITAM?

I would definitely encourage woman to get into a career within the ITAM industry. Be strong and believe in yourself! Women are just as good at this role as men and should be confident in applying for a role within ITAM.

  1. I understand you conduct most of your work remotely from Aberdeen, with most of your colleagues in Edinburgh. What tips do you have for remote workers? Are there any tools (ITAM specific or otherwise) that you would recommend?

When working remotely, I would suggest setting up regular calls with colleagues. I have weekly calls with all my team members to talk business and anything in between. I feel it’s important to do this so you can still bond with your colleagues and keep an open line of communication. If possible, I would also suggest every so often traveling into the office where your colleagues are based so that you can have some face-to-face time. I recently did this with my colleagues in Edinburgh and it was a really positive experience.

  1. What does the future hold for you? Where do you expect/hope to be in your career in ten years’ time?

I hope for the future that I am able to continue developing my skills and knowledge within ITAM to become a senior member of the team. I would also like to build on my hardware knowledge as I am just getting started on that journey. In the future I hope to see many more young people working alongside me in ITAM, similar to how I started.

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