Church on Sunday can feel worlds away from our day-to-day lives. We asked Christians to tell us how their lives connect with their faith for our new Whatever You Do prayer calendar. Darren Sampson talks about the fast-paced world of telecoms.
I started out in the telecoms industry over 20 years ago in a temping job after university. Initially, my job involved inputting data to activate radio pagers and mobile phones. I then moved on to a supervisor role in a mobile phone warehouse. Learning to drive a fork-lift was fun and security was as strict as in an airport, due to the high value of the stock. Eventually, I became an independent contractor, working on IT projects for mobile phone networks. Recently, I’ve worked on the introduction of new 4G services and the merger of two mobile operators into one single network. This has meant working with a fascinating range of people from directors and technical experts to call centre staff.
One day, I may find myself getting to grips with the technicalities of what makes a mobile network tick (e.g. how the network sends your text messages to your phone when you are abroad on holiday). The next day I may be holding discussions with Customer Services to understand how changes to that feature would impact on the way they look after customers. I particularly enjoy this combination of working with new technology and working with people. I’ve worked alongside some fantastic characters, especially my Irish colleagues who liven up meetings with tall tales and colourful language.
A typical day could include reviewing technical documents and test plans, one-to-one discussions, a project meeting or two (usually on a telephone conference call) and making updates to my latest design brief. The most satisfying part of my job is getting to the bottom of a tricky problem, getting agreement on how something should work or when there is a “light-bulb moment” and someone comes up with an ingenious solution.
Sometimes, new initiatives can appear out of nowhere and it can be very challenging to get input from people when they are already busy meeting other deadlines. Job security for contractors can be precarious. I worked on one project that was cancelled due to a legal appeal by a competitor. This meant my contract was terminated with immediate effect.
There has always been constant change going on in the mobile industry. In recent years, the pace has accelerated rapidly. Top priority projects are always competing for time and attention, which increases pressure on everyone. “Outsourcing” of different parts of the business has brought new challenges, with the need to work with people who have different cultures, accents and time-zones. This trend looks set to continue as many mobile companies are part of multinational corporations with global suppliers.
A big part of my job is about building relationships with people. Sometimes a chance mention of my involvement with the local church can lead to a discussion about faith. I have been able to provide a listening ear to colleagues and occasionally have been able to offer to pray for a colleague or someone in their family. A church near my office runs an excellent “workers lunch”, providing bible teaching, time for discussion, fellowship and the opportunity to pray for people and situations at work.
I believe I can see God at work in people who show grace under pressure, providing support and encouragement to those around them.
- For those who feel overwhelmed by the ever-increasing pace of change.
- For those who worry about their job security.
- For those who need strength to stand up and do the right thing in the face of financial or time pressures.
- For Christian groups organised for workers, by local churches and within workplaces.