Hannah Ayers is a senior operations manager within our telecoms business and currently looks after the new Openreach contract in Hampshire and Berkshire. Here she talks about her journey from graduate to cyber security to operational roles within telecoms, and the key decision points in her career so far.
“I would describe myself as quite academic growing up, with some interest in a career in teaching but also a real interest in working in business and industry.
I went to university in 2008-2011 studying business and finance, in the middle of an economic crisis. It brought all of the textbook learning to life and I soon realised that I wanted to go and work in a management role within a large business where there was likely to be a challenging path ahead to recovery.
After a summer placement at BT, I was offered a place on its graduate programme. I joined as a programme manager within its cyber security team, which was one of the only parts of the business growing and investing at the time. I had a fantastic experience, building new operational teams and capability across the globe (including some travel to USA and India) as well as getting a real taste for business planning and commercial work.
Towards the end of my graduate role, I was ready for change and keen to explore an opportunity of an operational role. I applied for an operations manager role in Openreach, the infrastructure arm of BT, within a month I had secured the role and was thrown into the deep end! I had 25 field engineers to manage with very little network or engineering knowledge. As a 22-year-old female, I was certainly breaking the mould in this role at the time and it was a really tough learning curve.
I look back at this role as a pivotal point in my career. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I learnt so much about myself and others, I developed my management skills and undoubtedly it made me more resilient.
I then spent a number of years in a senior area manager role after being promoted. I typically managed an organisation of 150 people and became more focused once again on overall operational and financial delivery. It was hugely rewarding taking a step back to look at the operation as a whole and also looking at ways we could improve customer service nationally.
After having my two children, I made the big decision to leave Openreach and move into a national contracts management role but staying within the utilities industry. This felt like a significant risk at the time, but one that was necessary to give me the development that I was looking for. I wanted more autonomy, greater accountability and an opportunity to make a difference. This was the second turning point in my career – as I quickly realised that the role itself was one that I couldn’t see myself doing long-term. In March 2020, just as the Covid pandemic struck, I left the role in search of something that was more aligned to my values and what I wanted out of my career.
I joined Kier in June 2020, after three months unemployed in lockdown. I have thoroughly enjoyed joining the business to look after its new Openreach contract. The role has its challenges but I feel very lucky to work with a fantastic team – it makes such a difference when you are working with colleagues who are working together and supporting one another.
Eight months down the line, we have clear goals and I am excited to be working in a business which is undergoing significant growth and opportunity.
For anyone currently considering their career path I would say don’t overlook telecoms – it is undergoing a huge boom moment, digital infrastructure has never been so important and I am
proud to be a part of it.”
We have a range of vacancies currently available within our telecoms business, with various entry points, to find out more click here.