I’m responsible for operation and development of the company’s IT infrastructure – computer hardware, software and telephony – and digital solutions. Basically, anything with a plug or a wire on it comes back to me and my IT team; that’s one infrastructure (hardware) engineer and three software developers.
Together we look after all the IT hardware, servers and telephony across Linex UK and CCL. We’re responsible for keeping all the workflow and customer communications processes running.
Our core software is MyCCL (shortly to rebrand as CCL PRO), which underpins the whole of our business. It doesn’t just run the business at CCL; it’s used by Linex in France, it has been implemented in customised versions for our partners FB Express in Canada, YCC in the Netherlands and Belglobe in Switzerland, and it’s being developed for its first implementation in Latin America later in the year. It’s vital to both ourselves and our partners and customers that MyCCL/CCL PRO functions smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
I joined CCL as Group IT Director in 2017, a little after the expansion move from Isleworth to Heathrow, but I’d been involved with CCL for quite some time before that.
I worked in courier firms for several years, first as a driver, then transport manager. I spent a little time working in sales too, before becoming operations manager at Bluebird Express, which involved managing the courier services, despatching drivers and so on. That’s where I first came into contact with CCL, as I spoke to them all the time regarding my company’s airfreight and courier clearances.
At that time, IT was just a hobby for me. I’d always been interested in software design and development and I had over the years taught myself a comprehensive set of IT skills. These days I’m what’s commonly known as a Full Stack Engineer equipped to manage database, server, systems engineering and client services.
When both my then managing director and Rudee spoke to me about developing custom software for their businesses, I took the decision to go self-employed and do what I had in fact always wanted to do. That was around 2012 and, as they say, the rest is history.
There is no typical day! I’m used to a busy inbox driving the day’s activities. That demands prioritisation and a good grasp of what are the key issues of the day.
I like the culture – the fact that we’re not afraid to try something new. I like that we’re always looking to make a difference, be ahead of the game. It’s always been our goal, to be market leaders in what we do, and I know we’re achieving on that front. We’re unrivalled in our specialist niche, but we’re never complacent. We’re always looking ahead to identify trends and capitalise on the way our industry and the global trading environment is developing.
I’m big into running these days and that’s all down to Rudee. He made me do it! A team from CCL went out to do the London 10K run for charity, and I got the bug. I’ve done two half-marathons in the last two weeks, my exercise runs whilst being in ‘lockdown’ for Coronavirus. When the London Landmarks Half-Marathon was cancelled a few weeks ago, I ran a local landmarks half-marathon by myself instead. It took me round some of the sites associated with the author H G Wells, including Horsell Common, where the first invaders from Mars landed in his book, War of the Worlds.
I’m also passionate about home brewing, and I seem to have acquired a bit of a reputation for it at work, which means I’ve always got something on the go. I brew from scratch, using all grain mash. The grain gets soaked in warm water (the mash) to get the proteins and sugars out. Then it’s boiled, before adding hops and being left to ferment for a couple of weeks with yeast. Then… you have beer! I’ve just been brewing an Earl Grey Pale Ale. The cancelled half-marathon was to raise money for Cancer Research UK and I’m donating this brew as a raffle prize.
Work-wise, my future is definitely with CCL, Lenton Group and Geopost. There’s exciting challenge in the work and loads more we can still do. It’s a great time to be involved in this global business.
There’s a clue in my home brewing hobby. I’m passionate about… tea. I drink a lot of it! And I can be a bit particular about my brew, so I take my own tea with me whenever I travel to other offices. Not only that, but I have my own cup wherever I go. We all have our quirks – mine is… the way I like to take my tea.
CCL’s Group IT Director, Mark Grundy, explains how his role has been impacted by the current global Coronavirus Covid-19 situation, and how he is now supporting so many of the CCL team as they work from home.
My responsibilities are still the same as ever, but the focus has shifted a little. I’ve been heavily involved in the process of setting people up to work from home. This involved ensuring they have not only the right hardware, but the right connections, consistent services, appropriate securities and clearances and more.
We were preparing for this for a few weeks, getting everyone and everything ready, and now they’re all at home, there is still more to do. I need to make sure they can all continue to work, and stay in touch with one another too. One thing I’ve found is that, with a little extra time to think outside-the-box, our enterprising CCL team have started coming up with all sorts of requests and ideas. Every so often, I’ll get one of those calls that begins… ‘Mark, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you about…’
I also need to come to the office periodically, as that’s where the servers reside. If they need attention, or when there are backups to take care of, somebody needs physically to be there. We need to ensure resilience and business continuity for both ourselves and our customers.
Apart from actually attending to the on-site hardware, my job is doable from home. You can manage software from just about anywhere. Same with admin and sales, who are all at home now. The warehouse staff have to physically be on site but rest assured, whilst we all try to stay safe and healthy, we are following all the hygiene and social distancing rules with great care and diligence.
In total, around 70% of our UK workforce are now working from home, though both our depots by Heathrow are still open and functioning. Transport and logistics is classed as a key industry. Airline capacity has of course declined, which has reduced activity, but airfreight is still arriving, requiring processing, customs clearance and onward delivery.