Indigo Career Path Q&A with Chris Portlock, Global Head of NOC Services

An accomplished engineer and team manager, Chris was looking for a new challenge and took on the responsibility of building Indigo’s Network Operations Centre (NOC). He immersed himself in every facet of the role, from strategic recruitment to overseeing service desk support for some of the biggest companies in the world and communication companies on the planet. It’s a job he relishes because it keeps him at the leading edge of diverse network technologies.

Chris Portlock

How did your career path take you to Indigo?

I was reaching a point in my career where I felt like I’d done almost everything I could do in the business I was in, which was fibre to the home. I’d worked my way up from a junior engineer to NOC manager for an infrastructure provider when Indigo approached me about its plans to develop a new kind of NOC. I had dealt with Indigo in the past and knew they were very good at what they did. I was looking for a new challenge, took the job, and never looked back.

What does your job involve as Head of NOC Services?

Initially, it was about reviewing and improving every process, every procedure, and I got involved in every new hire. A lot of time was spent meeting with customers, finding out their needs, the capabilities they had and the gaps they needed filled. I found out they wanted more than support services and monitoring; they needed advice and consultancy to make the most of emerging technologies. That’s the type of NOC that I run today, a mixture of network monitoring, providing field engineering services and consultancy.

You’ve worked in other NOCs – how is Indigo different?

One of the things we’ve done differently is bring new blood into the industry. Yes, you need experts from day one in certain areas, but we try to focus on the next generation who will grow up with the new network technologies. I’m heavily involved in recruitment, taking part in virtually every interview and I build out the training plans with each of my team managers. Another difference at Indigo is the way we constantly look to add value. We’re not just monitoring networks, we are anticipating how things might change, whether it’s an early warning of a potential power cut or an installation that’s not going as well as it could. Our service is all about being proactive and that will only accelerate with the new wave of AI technology.

How do your personal skills align with the work you do?

Running a large team that trusts me is something I think I’m good at, and it’s important for the job. Engineers are naturally very technical which is what makes them good at their jobs. I was always a bit different and focused on the people part of projects as much as the infrastructure. Outside of the day job, I’m a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Ambassador, trying to encourage young people into our industry. I like to think I can articulate what it is that we do and explain some of the complex technical stuff in a human way that people respond to.

How do your personal skills align with the work you do?

I’m definitely a people person, which you need to be, and I brought customer service skills from my retail job, which also helps. I have a strong work ethic, and you need one because it can get very busy. You can find yourself juggling several issues at the same time, so it helps to be good under pressure and flexible.

What do you like most about working at Indigo?

There aren’t many jobs in the world where I could be working with fibre to the home networks one day, and the next be dealing with critical infrastructure for a major US internet company. In my old job it was always the same vendors, the same technology and the same architecture. It’s a complete flip at Indigo. I’m had more meetings with different companies about different technologies in my first nine months at Indigo that I had in 10 years in my previous company. The variety and the access to so much knowledge and industry information is something I really enjoy.

How do you rate Indigo as an employer?

I like that the people here are passionate about what they do. It’s part of the culture and something I‘ve tried to continue with my recruitment. We don’t just go after people because of their skills, we try and find individuals who really care about what they do. It’s not about where they are when we hire them, it’s about who they think they could be in 10 years’ time. We like to have people on our Service Desk team who want to part of this industry and have a passion for what they do. In return, Indigo offers them a real career path and a chance to grow their skills.

Want to know more?

If you are interested in developing your career with Indigo, please get in touch today.