Jon: A Day In The Life Of… A Projects Director

Meet Jon — our Projects Director.

Jon’s main responsibilities involve overseeing and managing our growing number of client projects, as well as looking after the projects team. He also mentors all of our engineers, helping them to develop their skills and knowledge: if Jon can’t do it, then no-one can!

When he’s not busy working, Jon enjoys spending time with his family and getting out into the country to take part in various shooting competitions.

We’ve asked Jon to share a day in his life as a Projects Director.

an image showing jon mclennan projects director

Give us a brief history of your time with Wessex IT, Jon!

I started working for Wessex IT as a Service Desk Engineer back in 2012 — a daunting step, having previously been self-employed running my own IT company. Back then, the service desk was not quite as big as it is now, with it being just two of us — the service desk manager and myself (compared to the now ten times the amount of service desk engineers, currently sitting at 20) — but it didn’t take long to get into the swing of things.

As time went on, I found myself doing more and more of the project work, which I both enjoyed and naturally felt most comfortable doing. Being a mechanical engineer by trade, I seem to have all the key attributes required: attention to detail, problem solving, grit and determination to get the job finished on time, and an incessant need to use too many cable ties, to name just a few.

Just like the service desk not being as large as it is now, the number of projects we were undertaking and the projects themselves were also comparatively small. To give you some context, looking at the projects that we currently have in our system — Autotask — we will have anywhere between 60 to 90 projects in progress, with a projects team of four working on them. 10 years ago, all we had was myself, some cable ties in hand, and a few projects sitting on my desk — things have grown considerably over time.

As the number of projects began to grow, we felt it was the right time for projects to be separated from the service desk as its own department; in turn, the need for those projects to be managed separately also grew. At this point, I was promoted to Projects Manager — the department, along with the business, has been continuing to grow ever since. In 2021, I was invited to become a Director, which I proudly accepted, and have been working hard as the Projects Director ever since.

What do you do in your role?

As the Projects Director, my main role is to oversee the projects department, including the planning and scheduling of all projects; however, I still will often be undertaking project work myself or will be giving guidance to engineers with their project work. I will also often be working closely with the account managers, in order to assist with designing and quoting solutions for clients. Outside of the projects department, I am working with the other Directors — Andrew and Richard — on more general management work, as well as helping drive the business and its growth.

Can your typical day change day by day, or do you have a routine that you stick to?

I do not have any set routine, but we do have work scheduled that clients are relying on us to complete, and the scheduled work needs to be completed when planned. There will always be times where we need to be flexible in order to fit in emergency work, which can make every day different and challenging, but that’s part of the job: to keep projects moving along and make sure priority or emergency projects are completed when needed.

How do you prioritise and plan your workload for the day?

Other than my own project work, the most important daily task is assigning project tasks to engineers so that work gets done, and promptly replying to emails to keep projects moving.

In what ways do you collaborate with both colleagues and clients?

From start to finish, projects always rely on collaboration. It all starts with having a discussion with the client, allowing me to really understand what is needed or what problem there is to overcome; then working with an account manager by giving them all of the information required, and from there, designing a solution with them.

I then finally get to work with the projects engineer in question, planning out all of the project work with them, ensuring that we deliver the support that is required. Successful delivery of projects needs collaboration with clients, account managers, and projects engineers.

What role does technology play in your daily tasks?

Technology really helps with communication. I have traditionally communicated with clients, staff and vendors via email and telephone, but the biggest change in how we work is using Microsoft Teams as a means of communication and collaboration. It really is the cornerstone of our bustling office, bringing together all of the tools that we need in order to work and collaborate, such as referring to your calendar, video calling, document sharing, instant messaging, and so much more: all in one place.

Can you share an example of a challenging situation that you encountered recently and how you overcame it?

Some of the most challenging situations that we encounter with projects are when working with other providers. In a recent project, we were tasked with installing a network in a newly re-fitted house. We would always recommend that we undertake the structured cabling, as this will ensure that it’s completed on time and to a high standard. But in this instance, the electrical contractor was given the job of installing and terminating the structured cabling.

We arrived onsite on the agreed day, having been advised that the cabling work had been completed — upon arrival, we quickly found out that this was not the case.

After some delays to get the project progressing for the customer, including a reattendance to the site, we took on the termination of the structured cabling ourselves, allowing the project to be completed and the client to move in.

It just goes to show that with any amount of planning, some things are just completely out of your control — this is where our experience comes into play, as well as the ability to be flexible. This flexibility helps to keep projects moving along and completed to a high standard, even if that means taking on work that you were not originally assigned to do.

What has been your favourite job that you have ever completed at Wessex IT?

One of the most enjoyable projects I have completed in recent years has been a large Microsoft Teams room installation for a client in Dublin. I really like these types of projects, as I get to work with my hands and see the results of our hard work.

Who is your biggest supporter at Wessex IT?

Without a doubt, my biggest supporters are the projects engineers. For many years, I was the only projects engineer, which often meant long hours and working over the weekend. But now we have a great group of engineers, with all the skills required to help spread the workload.

What do you love most about your role, Jon?

Most of all, I enjoy the variety of work. There is also a lot of job satisfaction working on projects, especially large infrastructure or structured cabling projects where you can really see the results of your hard work.

Find out more about Jon and the rest of our team in Meet The Team.

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