John Lawlor (IT Professional)
John is a 32 year old electronic engineer from County Offaly, currently working with Openet as a test engineer. Openet provides software that enables mobile phone operators to manage their networks more efficiently and cost effectively.
After studying for a Bachelor of Technology in Electronic Engineering in Waterford Institute of Technology, John began his career working for Ericsson as a Software engineer. John worked with Ericsson for 2 years, before returning to college to study for a Masters in Music Technology in the University of Limerick. John then worked with Vodafone for 3 years. Vodafone are one of the few Irish corporations to have created its own philanthropic foundation for the sole purpose of donating a percentage of its profits to the community and voluntary sector. Vodafone also actively create opportunities for and encourage their staff to volunteer and give their time and expertise to non profit organisation. It was during this period that John decided he wanted to give something back outside of his working life. It was a straightforward process: in 2007, he went online, Googled ‘volunteering’ and immediately made contact with his local volunteer centre (Dublin City South). Dublin City South Volunteer Centre very quickly matched John up with Sport against Racism Ireland (SARI) where he has been volunteering ever since.
John is a very reliable person, he does what he says he will do, turns up as promised and pretty much keeps on going until he gets the work done and sorts out whatever the problems are. This is particularly important because our computers, our information and our email system are integral to our day to day productivity and work!
Frank Buckley (Founder Of SARI)
Sport Against Racism Ireland is a non profit organisation set up in 1997 as a direct response to the growth of racist attacks from a small but vocal section of people in Ireland. The organisation presents and hosts sporting and cultural events that bring together people from different cultures and backgrounds. It promotes intercultural dialogue and celebrates cultural diversity through its projects in schools and by encouraging government agencies and national sports bodies to adopt anti-racism policies and procedures and correct practices. Initially John saw volunteering as a means to help others and also as good way to meet new people in Dublin - but it has turned into so much more. By his own admittance, John has gained immeasurably on both a personal and professional level.
John explains that; “It is great to volunteer with an organisation like SARI, they are so passionate about what they do. I have also learned a lot about Mac computers - of which I had very little prior knowledge. I have met some inspirational people, SARI are very appreciative of the work I do for them and that makes my volunteering experience very rewarding”
John is still volunteering with SARI 3 years later. SARI is a small team and like many non profit organisations, it does not have an internal IT support function and it is expensive to outsource PC support and network maintenance on an ongoing basis. As a volunteer IT professional John’s role is therefore important. The work is quite ad-hoc which suits John, it is a flexible relationship but John is committed nonetheless. Without support, IT issues can very negatively affect a small team’s productivity. Depending on the requirement, some of the work can be done remotely via remote access to SARI’s network. However, typically every 2 to 3 months John visits SARI headquarters and works on any problems, upgrades or improvements that need to be dealt with.
Frank Buckley founder of SARI says; “John is a very reliable person, he does what he says he will do, turns up as promised and pretty much keeps on going until he gets the work done and sorts out whatever the problems are. This is particularly important because our computers, our information and our email system are integral to our day to day productivity and work!”
John explains that SARI had a good IT set-up to begin with, with a wireless network infrastructure consisting of both PCs and Mac computers. John made some initial key improvements and continues to maintain the network to date. He set-up an automated weekly back-up process so that if ever the worst should happen, no documents or work would ever be lost. He introduced robust anti-virus and anti-spamming software. The team no longer spend time deleting spam on a daily basis.
John has also spent some time working on their email server, deleting old dormant and duplicate email accounts and tidying up all of SARI’s email aliases. John also upgraded and extended the mail server quota from 30 to 100 mega bites, as a result the email server works more smoothly and speedily.
John explains that in the current climate with so many budget cuts and the added difficulty in raising extra funds, voluntary work is even more important and can really help small non profit organisation such as SARI to keep on going and continue to support their local communities.