5 minutes with... Darryn Capes-Davis IT manager, Children's Medical Research Institute

Q: What were your childhood ambitions?

Every boy wishes he could be a train driver at some stage - well I did.

Q: What was your first job?

First money earner: delivering papers. First real job: programming in C for an industrial automation software company, Ci Technologies (now known as Citect).

Q: How did you get into IT?

I have tinkered with computers since Mum and Dad bought the family an Amiga 1000 when I was 12. I studied mechanical and electrical engineering at the University of Sydney. I applied for my first job as a hardware engineer. However, the application got passed sideways to the software department. First I knew of this was at the interview, but I didn't mind, I got the job and C programming has always been fun.

Q: What does your current role involve?

At the Children's Medical Research Institute (at Westmead in Sydney's western suburbs) I am the one-man band who looks after all computer and network related affairs. Things I do range from help desk queries to managing the switched network backbone.

Q: What projects and issues are you working on now?

We are rolling out some PCs to lab benches. This involved getting hardware that is small enough to fit into the compact lab bench environment. We chose the HP ePC due to its small size and will have flat screens mounted on Spacedec arms.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part is in helping others. You need to make sure you are giving the help required in the best manner for them to understand. Since we are all different this can be tricky at times.

Q: How many IT professionals make up your team?

Just me.

Q: What is the most pressing issue you face as IT manager?

"Where do you want to go today?" The biggest issue is working out what out there makes sense and what you don't need at all. Each vendor will tell you that this is the best thing. But you need to sit down, work out where we will all be in five years time and make sure that you don't waste time. This is most important in the security side of things at the moment.

Q: What's your average week like?

First the family has breakfast together. This is the most important part of the day since our only daughter is growing up fast. Then I go to work and try and do things that I have planned for the week. However, often a week can go by when you only do the 'interrupts', such as the things that come up, like helping others. If I need to do some server or network stuff I may work late evenings or weekends. But if I do this I have time off in lieu.

Q: If you could walk in the shoes of any other IT professional, who would it be and why?

Bill Gates, just because I would love to see his high-tech home!

Q: What is your favourite IT gadget and why?

My handheld (Palm Vx). It keeps me on time and up to date. I can also play my favourite games. I even have a dictionary and anagram finder to help me do cryptic crosswords, a favourite pastime.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?

Hmmm... It's pretty good as it is.

Q: What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?

I once saw someone looking at things on a computer that they shouldn't have been. I had to decide to tell my superiors knowing that it would be severe consequences for the party involved.

Q: List three likes and dislikes about your job:

Likes: Playing with new technology, especially when it works. Being able to work from home. Using my problem solving skills. It is a real buzz when you work out some bug or difficult problem. Dislikes: software bugs - they soak up time like nothing else! Phone surveys for IT matters. Wake up! We are in an Internet age. Please do your surveys using the Internet. I will do them every time. Canvassers: people who ring me at the most inconvenient time wanting me to change to them as a supplier.

Q: What is your company Web strategy?

We host our own Web server in-house. Before I worked at CMRI they had some donated hosting. But the channels were not kept up and the hosting company's DNS servers stopped having our records etc. The Jeans for Genes Web site (www.jeans4genes-.com.au) is important each year for getting online badge orders, so we need to make sure we can tightly control it. Our main Web site (www.cmri.com.au) is important for showcasing what we do.

Q: Name five people, living or not, you would invite for a dinner party and why?

Jesus. He is my saviour and Lord. Amanda (my wife). I always love to have her around. Renée our 18-month-old daughter (so finger food would have to be on the menu!) My Grandfather (mum's dad). He was a great thinker and tinkerer. Leonardo da Vinci, another great thinker.

Q: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you at work?

I got an award for 'Getting to the bottom of IT'. Someone had taken a picture while I was on a desk wiring up a computer. Of course you can imagine what the picture was like.

Q: Do you plan to undertake any additional training courses?

Maybe. Although I consider that training always happens in a job like this.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

In the same great job!

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Cryptic crosswords. Tinker around the house. Helping our church with their IT equipment. Cooking.

Q: What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?

Loss of server equipment, especially data storage. We have offsite backup, so everything should be OK, but it is just a big worry.

Q: What would you do if you could rule the world for one week?

Make peace. Well at least try to.

Q: What is your ideal holiday location:

Spring by the sea. Nothing like the fresh sea air and the sound of the sea at night.

Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?

That 90 per cent of IT predictions will be wrong!

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