5 minutes with . . . Adrian Perry, IT manager, Australian Football League

Computerworld: How did you get into IT?

Adrian Perry: I have always had an interest in computers from a very young age. From memory my father brought me my first computer when I was about 10 years old, and from the first time I turned it on I was hooked.

From there I took my first network support role when I was in year 10 at high school - supporting a 10-user Novell network for a local architectural firm.

When I finished high school I went straight into a network support role with a large automotive design company.

CW: What does your current role involve?

AP: I'm responsible for all voice and data communications for the AFL. Our IT infrastructure is much your traditional hybrid network with a mixture of Unix, Novell, NT and OS/2, and my main role is to improve and maintain all these systems. Currently we have 22 servers over three sites and about 130 desktops. The servers are all doing a variety of different tasks from file, the Web, database, e-mail and voice messaging. I am also responsible for the IT of three other companies that are directly involved with the football industry.

CW: As a child, what did you want to be when you 'grew up'?

AP: My future dream was to be an AFL footballer. I guess this is the dream of every eight-year-old child in Victoria, but after 11 years of football and a lot of injuries, I decided to focus on computers.

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

AP: The biggest project that I'm working at the moment is the relocation of the AFL offices from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to Colonial Stadium. It has been a fantastic experience and a lot of hours, but the end result will be great. It's been a good chance to really step back and have a good look at all the company's IT and business requirements and put the best structure in place.

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

AP: What I find the most challenging is keeping all the systems running at 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time.

Last financial year in total we lost 22 minutes of server downtime for the whole year, which is a fantastic statistic. The other challenging part of my role is, I guess, what all other IT managers face - to get more funding.

CW: What are the most pressing issues you face as IT manager?

AP: I guess that is trying to change the way the AFL looks at its IT.

It's slowly changing, and they're finally realising how important it is to the business.

CW: List three likes and dislikes about your job?

AP: Likes - great industry, great people and very rewarding Dislikes - too much politics, not enough funding and Essendon supporters.

CW: What training courses have you completed, and do you plan to undertake any additional training courses to further develop your career?

AP: I have done a few training courses over the years; MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional), MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), MCSE+I (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Internet), Net+ (Comptia Network +), CCNA (Certified Cisco Network Associate), CNA (Certified Novell Administrator), CNE (Certified Novell Engineer). I have also done a couple of courses in Advanced Unix.

I do intend to keep on training and advancing my skills; I think it is very important to keep gaining skills in as many IT related fields as possible.

CW: How many IT professionals make up your IT Team?

AP: We only have two IT staff at the AFL, myself and one support engineer named Guy Williamson. Most companies this size would have another two or so staff, but if you have a good mix of IT skills and each person in the team knows what's going on, then there's no real need to have more.

CW: Name the three most famous people you have met?

AP: The three most famous people I have met were all at this year's AFL grand final.

I had a great job on the big day, which was escorting all the VIP guests onto the arena for their lap of honour.

My first VIP was Patrick Rafter and he was a really nice guy. The next two people both won gold at the Sydney Olympic Games: Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe. They were both great people as well.

CW: What would you imagine life to be without computers?

AP: I think it would be very relaxing, very stress free and very slow. I hope to experience life without computers when I retire; I'd like to move to a tropical island and do nothing, just relax.

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

AP: I don't think in the IT industry there are any difficult decisions, if you analyse what's required and are very thorough in your investigation, the right decision presents itself.

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

AP: I would invite Frank Sinatara because he can sing, Eddie Murphy for a bit of humour, James Dean to find out what the big deal is, Marilyn Monroe to get all the good gossip and Jerry Springer for having a weird job.

CW: What is the worst IT disaster you think could happen?

AP: I have always had this phobia that one day I will come into work and all my servers will have been stolen.

CW: What is your ideal holiday location?

AP: My ideal holiday location would have to be England. The country has so much history and fantastic scenery.

CW: Favourite day of the week and why?

AP: I would honestly have to say that Monday is my favourite day because after having two days off, I normally end up so motivated that I cannot wait to get back into it.

CW: As you work for the AFL... is football your favourite sport?

AP: It was when I first started at the AFL, but after a while you can get a little bit sick of it, but it's still one of my favourite sports. I like all sports that have some sort of physical contact about them.

CW: What takes up your time outside of work?

AP: I have three lovely kids and one on the way, so if I'm not working I am usually playing with my children.

CW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

AP: I would like to be in a job where you get to really push the boundaries of technology and play with the latest and greatest gear. Or retired and sailing a boat around the Carribbean.

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