It's often said in information technology that you've done your job well when nobody notices you.

Among these unobtrusive problem solvers is Western's own David Ghantous, associate director of technical services and information technology services. He's at the other end of every cable, dealing with the university's digital data and keeping it secure, but he does his best to fly under the radar.

"About a year ago we moved the undergraduate students to Office 365 for mail," he recalls. "It really went quite quietly and I think sometimes if we don't get feedback, it's a compliment."

Until 2013, David worked in IT for a major Canadian bank as an application architect. After a lengthy period there, he realized there were quite a few good years left in him and it was time for a change.

He describes the transition from banking to higher education, private enterprise to a publicly funded institution, as a paradigm shift.

"The banking industry is fascinating in a way but it's a different machine," he says. "Dollars and cents.

"The best thing about higher ed, it's a younger crowd, you're working with students. I've been here for two years now and I still enjoy the newness of it all ... there's just a sense of energy there."

David defies the stereotype of misanthropic, cynical tech support (see: The IT crowd) and in fact, he admires the verve and vigour of the student body.

As technology is developed more and more into a pedagogical tool, he sees his job as an important part of modern education. Already, he is noticing innovations in cloud computing and multimedia changing the playing field.

It's more than just keeping the lights on. David looks ahead to the future and sees increasingly sophisticated ways education can be delivered to students, regardless of ability or situation.

However, his job never really goes away.

Exponentially changing technology demands that infrastructure keep up; David sees a blur of new device types in September and increased demand on the network. Every year, the demand for wireless capabilities increases and every year, there are new security threats to contend with. He has to match the rhythm of the University in his own personal life, with exam time being the most hectic.

"When I'm not working, I'm driving my kids to the arena," he says with a laugh. "Two boys, 11 and 14, and they play minor hockey … five, six nights a week I'm in an arena somewhere around London."

David devotes most of his time to family and work, but the on-campus energy keeps him fresh and it keeps him in spirits. 

"That's the part I enjoy," he says. "It's seeing, even if I'm not directly a part of this, young people learning and making choices that will directly affect their lives.… It's contributing towards taking young people and sending them on their path."

So next time you can't connect to Wi-Fi, think back on all the times you were able to and appreciate our silent benefactors in ITS.

0
0
0
0
0

Richard is the Culture Editor-At-Large for Volume 110, stationed in the distant realms of Scotland. Previously, he was an Arts & Lifestyle Editor for Volume 109, staff writer for Volume 108 and winner of the best macaroni portrait in his first-grade class

Interested in what's engaging students? Contribute to the Gazette's culture section!

cell phonespeech bubble
Load comments