In this month’s ‘Meet the team’ series, we got the chance to sit down with Martin Gleadow, Solution Architect at 3Squared.
Martin is a well-known face across the rail industry and can often be found out and about at various events across the country, delving into the technologies and solutions that 3Squared are providing the rail industry with. Learn more about Martin’s role at 3Squared and what drew him to his career path, below:
When did you join 3Squared and can you give us an insight into your background before joining the company?
I joined 3Squared in January 2016 as Head of IT and Support. My background is very technical, having studied Mechanical Engineering and then Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, before developing a career in system administration on Linux and Windows servers at Technophobia back in 2005, when the internet was a much simpler place.
During my time there, I took on management responsibility for IT and grew a superb team, each of whom have gone on to do fantastic things and I am still in touch with today – I take great joy in seeing the success of others I have worked with and observing the connections I have made across so many exciting companies.
By the time I left, we were running a large multi-location virtualisation platform for a government organisation and working across multiple sectors.
Can you give us an insight into your role at 3Squared?
My role has evolved since joining six years ago, as when I first started I was looking after both IT and Customer Support. In this role, I was building upon the work people had done before me and helping the company to develop processes and practices as it grew, to ensure our applications remained available and our customers remained happy.
Last year, we reached the point where the Support Team was split out as a dedicated function, which has gone from strength to strength as detailed in last month’s ‘Meet the team’ feature. From then, my attention was refocussed on the needs of the rail industry and how we support them, alongside my responsibilities for IT.
I have been fortunate to once again develop a talented team to the point that I have been able to hand over IT to Chris Duncombe, and concentrate fully on our products, enabling me to take on the role of Solution Architect.
My role as Solution Architect sees me working closely with existing and prospective clients to bring together railway operations and technology solutions, in a way which solves business problems effectively. One of the key motivating factors for my job is being a part of the evolution and improvement of the rail industry to satisfy societal needs.
What drew you towards a career in rail and technology?
I have been fascinated by how things work from a very early age, from construction toys to taking things apart and trying to put them back together. For example, when a Commodore 64 turned up at my parents’ house one year I spent a lot of time programming in Basic from magazines and library books, turning that interest into computing.
Now, I have almost come full circle, as my work at 3Squared has brought me much closer to the mechanical again through exposure to the rail industry, where my fascination for how things work has been applied to the processes and operations that enable the smooth running of the railway.
I’ve long had an idle curiosity for this alongside my interest in looking “behind the curtain” to see what is usually unseen – as a rail passenger I would be interested in the infrastructure you see trackside and the various signs, signals, and noises you encounter, and it really has been great to get fully in to understanding all of this.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Each day is different which keeps me on my toes however it remains massively interesting. I particularly like getting out and meeting customers or rail industry colleagues, especially when it takes me to a live rail site, and I can see the processes we support in operation. I am a firm believer in knowing the operating context of any application and encourage everyone in 3Squared or across the wider industry, to take any opportunities they can to understand the working environment of our customers.
Industry networking events are also particularly useful, with organisations like Rail Forum, Rail Freight Group and the Railway Industry Association putting on fantastic events year-round, which really help facilitate a collaborative approach to problem solving. The friendly atmosphere within the railway family is really refreshing and invigorating to work with and helps us to understand the challenges and direction of the industry, as well as getting to know so many good people.
When I am not mobile, I will either be in the office enthusiastically discussing ideas, projects, and problems with the rest of the company, or getting my head down and getting stuck in to solving client problems. This might take the form of developing a business problem into a software need which the Service Design team can document ready for build, or collaborating with the Client Engagement team to aid our customers in getting maximum business benefit from our applications. I always try to be on hand to answer any questions that might arise about how the railway works or what terminology means, and love seeing the passion and enthusiasm which runs deep at 3Squared.
What advice would you give to somebody looking to forge a career in rail or technology?
Get stuck in! Whether rail or digital technologies – or indeed any other field – it really helps to apply yourself to finding out why these industries exist and the need for people to grow careers within them, and then look at how it is currently done.
Obviously, it is easier to just try things out with software, as the barrier to entry is very low and having been a hiring manager in a software company, I always looked for candidates with a spark of interest and curiosity and this comes across well if people have tangible projects to talk about, or if they are involved in local meetups such as Sheffield Devops or .net Sheffield.
It is never too late to change career and pick up IT experience either, as there are multiple routes in as well as the academic path. If you have an interest and an aptitude, then you can make it happen.
With rail, potential careers are so much wider than the highly visible ones such as driving, and all rail companies regularly run recruitment events where you can find out more about the options. Rail is a tight knit community, and once people work in the industry, they seem to stay in it for life while progressing their careers either in one company or moving around, alongside keeping all their professional connections.
There is a wealth of opportunities to enter at any level and opportunities to experience working in an operational railway, to bringing experience from other industries to rail. It is an exciting time to be involved with the transition from Network Rail to Great British Railways, the resurgence of rail freight to meet Net Zero targets and respond to changing needs, and investment in new routes and vehicles.
We hope you have enjoyed this insight into Martin’s fascinating role at 3Squared. If you would be interested in finding out more information about how you could join the 3Squared team, please get in touch with us here or by emailing [email protected]