Sword Spotlight on Erik Avdulov

In the first of our new series of Sword Spotlight articles, we talk to Service Desk Analyst Erik Avdulov about how he is finding life as a recent graduate in our Oil & Gas centre in Aberdeen.

Erik Avdulov

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before joining Sword?

“I joined Sword in July 2019 fresh from studying software development at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Leaving my lecturers behind for my first graduate job, I’ve really appreciated how helpful all the managers and my colleagues have been at inducting me into the working world of business technology solutions and providing training that is a natural extension of my degree.”

How has an average day at Sword changed for you in your time with us?

“Like most new graduates at Sword, I joined the IT Service Desk, Resolve. After 6 months I was delighted to move onto PowerBI development projects and I’m finding the mix really interesting. I usually start my day with a coffee and check my emails to catch up on items that have come from offshore overnight. Depending on customer requirements, I either work at Sword’s Aberdeen city centre offices or out on Oil & Gas customer sites (at the moment I’m obviously working from home like the rest of lockdown office workers!).”

What do you enjoy about working at Sword?

“I work on a mix of first line (IT service desk) and second line support (usually on customer sites) which I do enjoy, but I find the development work the most stimulating. One of the best things about working at Sword is that when you prove yourself to be capable and hardworking, you know you’ll be rewarded.”

Tell us about a work-related achievement that made you feel proud?

“An important part of Sword’s service delivery process is seeking customer feedback and I really thrive on receiving perfect scores as well as the comments that customers are kind enough to provide. Being promoted into development work after only 6 months in my first graduate job also rates pretty highly on my achievements!”

How is your career progressing working at Sword? 

“There are opportunities everywhere at Sword; my promotion into development work has opened up so many opportunities to work with new people in our business. The demands for new ways of working from Sword’s range of Energy sector customers is also opening up opportunities in some really ground-breaking projects.”

What would you say to someone considering a role at Sword?

“Don’t be afraid to join from the lowest position. Graduates may feel qualified to start at a higher development role, however they need to learn broader business skills to succeed in a job like that. If you do well and show you’re capable, you will make your way up and forge a career in technology that is fun, challenging and rewarding.”

Read on to learn more about careers with Sword or our Business Technology solutions (including our IT Service Desk Resolve).

Sword Venture and Sword DataCo Integration

Following the recent acquisition by the Sword Group of DataCo, Sword Venture and Sword DataCo will be merging to form a single entity that will specialise in Energy sector data services and solutions. The combined organisation will be known as Sword Venture from April 1st 2020. This is a natural progression that builds on the excellent working relations we have fostered since joining forces last year. 

With a combined workforce of over 120 data and information management professionals, Sword Venture brings unparalleled expertise in maximising the value of Oil and Gas data and information assets for our customers, via capabilities such as:

Sword Venture and DataCo have both invested in data science and analytical capabilities in recent years, bringing these two teams together as the Sword Venture Digital Solutions Factory will provide our customers with class-leading technology. The Factory comprises of an in-house R&D department and a commercial analytics delivery team, with the goal of solving common Oil and Gas industry problems across the technical and corporate domains. Our blend of technical data scientists and data domain subject matter experts form agile delivery groups that deliver practical value to our customers. 

We focus on delivering solutions that enable insights and inform business decisions, through the application of data science and analytical techniques. Our solutions are proven to help reduce time, cost and risk, and improve insight and efficiency in operational decisions. For example, in a complex data migration triggered by organisational change such as an asset transfer, we bring an independent lens to the discovery, access and use of data. We ensure the vendor extracts only the information relevant to that asset and that the new owner is armed with the data, information and licenses needed to deliver seamless operational production from Day One of ownership. 

As part of Sword Group, we also have access to IT, visualisation, and digital workplace expertise to help build solid technology foundations that are designed to enable successful digital transformation and embed intelligent data solutions. 

We have the joint ambition to firmly establish ourselves as the leading global provider of data and information management expertise and service support to the Energy sector. Building on our existing global footprint from Sword Venture (with offices in London and Aberdeen) and Sword DataCo (with offices in Aberdeen, The Hague and Perth, Australia), we are actively looking to expand our presence in locations that include Houston, the Middle East, and South East Asia.

We are confident that this integration will enhance the service we provide to our customers today, as well as help us to shape the next decade of data management in the Energy sector together.

Read more here about how we help to design, implement and support practical information management services and solutions that enable our Energy sector customers to gain insight and make effective business decisions.

The annual Microsoft MVP Summit took place last week under strict NDA. This blog does not contain any product content. However, it does contain insights that can be shared by two UK MVPs, Gregor Suttie from Sword IT Solutions (Azure MVP) and  Lesley Crook (Office Apps & Services MVP) Minttulip

Lesley. The MVP Summit was cancelled 3 weeks ago due to obvious reasons but did not stop Microsoft Teams Team pulling out all the stops, using COVID19 global crisis as an opportunity to shift Teams into infinity and beyond. Microsoft put on the most amazing virtual show with 820 Channel sessions scheduled over 4 days for 3000 attendees!

This was no mean feat. Here’s my 4 takeaways you might find helpful with customers deploying Teams.

1. Sessions were in a massive Teams SharePoint list (-7) hours behind UK time. MVP, Yannick Reekmans created a way to extract all 820 sessions as .ics files, that could be imported into our calendars. Some might find this workaround helpful for other customers.

2. I joined another virtual space called AltspaceVR with some MVPs. It was a fun trip, and we could virtually see how VR assists product development with wearable headsets, great asset for First Line Workers. Read more on this neglected work force and how Microsoft is on track improving their jobs in this Microsoft story and another here.

3. The summit is not just about attending deep dive techy sessions it’s also about networking, cross-pollinating ideas and a time to have some fun after another big year of MVP community contributions all over the world. Teams delivered an amazing event with Chat in live meetings that were recorded. It’s fantastic the sessions were recorded as many of us were multi-tasking with the day job as our international travel had been cancelled. We can now watch sessions we missed. During the week I toggled between Minttulip Teams tenant to join customer meetings, and the Summit. I managed this across 3 devices skipping back and forth between the two tenants using:

4. Running in parallel to the techy sessions was the wild and whacky Community Zone Channel. The place to get to know each other. By the end of the week we’d shared a few thousand light-hearted comments, images and gifs. There was quizzes,  charity efforts with Missing Maps and fundraising. I loved these ice-breakers reusable for Teams or Yammer networks to ignite employee engagement:

Handing over to Gregor. So, for me this was my first ever MVP Summit, which turned into the MVP Virtual Summit. Microsoft Teams was used to organise it and to be honest my hopes weren’t that high, lots of random meeting invites flying around and being added to test Teams sites etc.

The actual event minor a couple of tiny hiccups was brilliant, Microsoft Teams worked great for the majority of the Virtual Summit and it was announced that 44 million users were on Teams last week in total across the globe, it was easy to find the sessions and move from one session to the next.

As Lesley said already we are not allowed to talk about the content covered as its under very strict NDA, but it’s clear to me that being an MVP has many benefits which companies should take more advantage of, we get access to the teams of people who are building the software and can give feedback etc directly to the Product Groups.

The sessions for me started at 3pm till 3am. I learned a lot! I learned about myself, the community, and where Microsoft are heading which is very cool.

My favourite things which I can talk about during the week in the Community Zone Channel included Virtual Yoga and the Virtual Bar! The Virtual Bar was a Teams channel where MVP’s could have a real drink (at home) and chat virtually about whatever took their fancy.

It was a shame we didn’t make it to Seattle but the Virtual Summit run very well and was a huge success. There is so much great stuff to be shipped!

We would both like to wish all MVPs the very best with renewals in the coming weeks and look to seeing you in person in April 2021 in Seattle if not before.

We are pleased to announce the acquisition of DataCo (Data and Information Management experts) based in Aberdeen (UK), Perth (Australia) and Houston (USA).

DataCo has an excellent reputation in the marketplace and is focused primarily on the Oil and Gas industry.  They provide expert data services, information management solutions and support, helping customers reduce costs and increase efficiency through the effective management of their data asset. DataCo have offices in UK (Aberdeen), Netherlands (The Hague), Australia (Perth) and USA (Houston).

DataCo will join our Sword Venture Business Unit in further developing its Upstream Data and Information Management expertise. Both parties are very excited about the possibilities of this relationship, in terms of the breadth and depth of support offered to the combined customer base and the innovation that can be delivered to the Oil and Gas industry.

Dave Bruce CEO of Sword UK said “I’m delighted to welcome the DataCo team to the Sword Group. This deal reflects our commitment to the Energy Industry and allows us to deliver a more complete Information Management solution to our customers. 

We targeted DataCo because they are recognised as a market leader in this area. There are clear synergies in the way we both work with our customers and offer complementary solutions that will enhance our existing service.  We recognise the skills and expertise the DataCo team bring to our company and are genuinely excited about what the future now holds for the combined business.

We believe that as part of Sword, we can accelerate DataCo’s growth plans while adding valuable domain expertise to the Group.”

Phil Brading Business Unit Director of Sword Venture said “This is a tremendously exciting opportunity to join forces with the team at DataCo and offer our combined customer base, world-class Data and Information management expertise. We recognise the importance of building trusted data sets, and the subsequent opportunities that Data Science presents, and we look forward to working with our new colleagues in accelerating our innovative solution development and talking to customers about the value our partnership can bring.”

Henri Tykoezinski MD at DataCo said “We sincerely believe that the combination of expertise from DataCo, and Sword will enhance and grow the capabilities we are able to offer.  With our shared strengths in digitalisation, data analytics, IM, DM and GIS, we believe that the new group will become the world leader in these areas.”

Sword provides Business Technology Solutions to the Energy, Public, Commercial and Financial sectors throughout the UK, employing over 330 people across its primary locations in Aberdeen, Glasgow and London.   For more information, contact Craig Swinburn on +44(0)1224 506116 or craig.swinburn@sword-group.com

As part of Sword’s on-going commitment to supporting the UK public sector, the company have been added as an approved supplier to the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework initiative as part of the Government backed Digital Marketplace scheme.

The Digital Marketplace is now the single destination for public sector organisations to access and purchase both cloud technology and specialist services for digital projects.  The government backed scheme simplifies previous processes and makes it easy for public sector companies to buy with complete confidence.

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework enables any public sector organisation to easily acquire specialist digital services from approved providers from across the UK.  The Digital Outcomes service is available to any public sector organisation where they submit digital challenges and receive custom solutions from approved suppliers within the framework. Digital Specialists can be supplied to support with public sector projects, as and when they are required.

Public Sector organisations can now access Sword’s digital services and resources through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework initiative.  Sword also offer a range of cloud services through the G-Cloud 11 framework.

Debi Brockett, Sword’s account executive for Public Sector said “We are delighted to continue to offer our professional services and skilled resources through these  frameworks, ultimately making the procurement process easier for our customers.”

To access the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework or the G-Cloud 11 framework, visit https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/

Sword UK provide Digital Transformation, Information Management and IT Support services to the Energy, Public and Commercial sectors throughout the UK.   For more information, contact our Marketing Team on +44(0)131 300 0567 (ext 567)

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