5 minutes with . . . Paul Cameron, director technical operations, Excite@Home

Computerworld: What was your first job in IT?

Paul Cameron: Communications engineer - building and operating a network for a manufacturing and distribution company throughout Australia and New ZealandCW: How long have you been with Optus@Home?

PC: I started in January of this year, just before the commercial launch of the Optus@Home product. I work for Excite@Home Australia, the joint venture between Cable & Wireless Optus and the US-based Excite@Home Corporation.

CW: What were you doing before joining Excite@Home.

PC: I was responsible for building and managing the infrastructure that runs the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority's registration and licensing system known as Drives, which is used throughout the authority's office network. I also worked with Boral Australia in redefining its IT operations and consolidating support and customer operations across the country.

In 1998, I worked as senior project manager of managed operations at IBM Global Services Australia. I was responsible for delivering Y2K readiness across all internal and client mid-range systems.

After managing the Vodafone billing and customer service infrastructure, I joined Excite@Home as director, technical operations.

CW: Describe a ‘typical' day at work.

PC: A typical workday involves meeting and communicating with many different people across different areas of our business. In representing technology both operationally and strategically, I participate in numerous operational and business forums each day. I take particular interest in how our network is performing and the views and comments made by our customers. Therefore, I try to monitor customer feedback fairly regularly.

I work closely with our technical, operational and strategic teams along with our vendors and project managers.

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

PC: The Internet by nature is forever changing and that on its own keeps you well and truly on your toes! Our commitment to our customers is to provide a high-quality, performance-based product and it means that any inherent weaknesses must be resolved and solutions built both rapidly and cost effectively.

CW: What are your views on the increasing usage of non-PC appliances (PDAs, mobile phones) to access the Internet?

PC: I love it. I think it can only get better. The beauty of the Internet is that it's device independent so that information can be available across all sorts of distribution arms. For example, we're already talking about connecting refrigerators, lighting systems and home video surveillance systems to the Internet.

Content on the Internet is forever growing richer and more meaningful for customers. The distribution of it is also becoming all the more powerful.

CW: What major IT projects are you working on at the moment?

PC: We're looking at integrating our content technology for an even wider spread distribution. We're implementing technology that will speed up the delivery of content and bring it closer to the customer including video (broadcast and on-demand), audio and standard HTML.

CW: What is the most difficult decision you have ever had to make?

PC: In one of my previous positions, I reluctantly let go somebody who was a real overachiever, but was not comfortable with the team. The person was senior and held considerable responsibility but was reluctant to accept or respect the views of others and didn't wish to change. I had to make a decision about what was best for the team.

CW: Is there any part of the IT industry that you would like to learn more about?

PC: I guess the answer to that is that I'm already in it. I've never witnessed anything in my career that moves as fast as the Internet industry or to be more specific . . . how you apply it to everyday people and business. We are learning more every day as new technology surfaces and new ways in which to apply it become apparent.

CW: How do you protect your network from denial of service attacks?

PC: We protect ourselves from these attacks with software that identifies the presence of a slave component of a DOS. This is the traditional denial of service attack. Additionally the PINg of Death, and the like, are identified as they occur. Our network operations centre has tight processes in place to counter these.

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

PC: I don't think I'd change anything at the moment. It's pretty good as it is.

CW: What would be your second choice of career?

PC: It would most likely be in some form of investment or development in line with venture capitalists.

CW: What is one of your most prized IT achievements?

PC: Taking the RTA Drives system from a complex ill-performing beast to a world-class, integrated and fault redundant system. The icing on the cake was our engineer's involvement with Sun Microsystems in the early days of Java development and the effective use of transaction monitors.

CW: If you could, who would you invite to a dinner party (living or deceased)?

PC: My father. Good bloke. Great sense of humour and was always amazed at the pace with which technology moves.

CW: What are your career goals for the future and where do you see yourself in five years?

PC: That's a tough one. I enjoy what I'm doing at the moment and the Internet by its nature will inevitably throw new challenges my way.

CW: How do you like to spend your time outside the office?

PC: I like the rush of adrenalin so a quick ride on the motorbike is up there. For a little more sedate time, a round of golf, game of tennis or just hanging out with my kids. Oh, and of course a fine wine or two.

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