So I guess introductions are necessary as you’ve taken time to view my blog which is very kind of you so you’ve earned yourself a beer already 😉 I think by the time you read through my personal profile and thoughts you’ll get to understand what I’m all about and why I’ve “popped up” here on the big old internet. Take a seat, get a beer or what ever your poison is as this might take a while!
Working in IT since 2002 after 7 years honourable service in the British Army.
VCP 3.5, 4 and 5 Certified.
MCP Server HyperV and System Center 2012R2
Currently the Principal Technical Architect at my company and have worked on may aspects of VMware products from core infrastructure to VDI, IAAS and DR deployments. I’ve also worked with HyperV, Citrix and a lot of storage vendors all of which are challenges in themselves.
In the beginning:
Born September 1977 in England and the son of a great man who is also known as Don Ward (Snr) although he’s an imposter as he’s actually Adrian! My Dad himself is a former member of the British Army (UK) and was a Signalman (Royal Signals) for his full career of 22+ years and retired as a Sgt. He’s a man of utter conviction and has seen plenty of “interesting” situations and seen a fair share of what the world has had to offer. He loves his fishing and likes to “Sandbag” and talk about days of old in the Army. He was and still is a role model to me and with his discipline and strong mindedness he’s shaped me in to the man I am today.
My good old mum June Ward was married into the Army with my Dad so she’s had to endure all the life and trials of what a service family has to go through ranging from my Dad being away on exercises or operation tours for extended lengths of time; to having to deal with a somewhat handful of a young son growing up complete with tantrums, accidents and other things that kids do to piss off their parents. My mum and Dad will talk to just about anyone and probably the easiest people to get on with. We are a small unit and therefore all three of us are close and protective of each other as all good families should be and long may it remain.
So that makes me what’s affectionately known in the Army as a “Pad Brat” . It was inevitable that growing up having to move schools every two-three years due to my dad’s posting I had to learn to integrate with others quickly and make new friends as well as enemies. (can’t please everyone!) but more obvious was the fact that I was destined to go in to the forces myself when I was old enough.
As any “only child” will know all too well, I’ve had to rely on myself to get through childhood without the backup of siblings and can be pretty tough but the lessons learnt have carried through to my adult life. I’ve bounced between England and Germany due to my dad’s posting and during my stays in Germany I also picked up the language which as you can expect fades over time when not in use in England. I joined the Army Cadets when I was old enough and continued on my path to becoming a soldier but it was what really got me hooked as I was (and still am) a good marksman and regularly excelled in shooting competitions and field based exercises.
There was one man who affected my profoundly during my Army Cadets days whose name escapes me. He was a Sgt in the Royal Anglian Regiment (Infantry) and gave a speech about self determination and mental toughness. A key part of the speech was about having the will to survive and how it can get you though anything life throws at you. These words I absorbed and practised from then on, which is good as I was about to have some very tough times to get through later in life.
As I left school with my somewhat surprising grades in GCSEs I did a work experience with the Cambridgeshire fire brigade and enjoyed it immensely. I was singled out as a leader with talent and the experience ALMOST made me switch focus from getting into the Army. It was not to be however and after three attempts to join the Army due to medical failures, I was eventually accepted and of all people, recruited by my very own Father then Sgt Ward who had the pleasure of getting me to sign the “dotted line” and swear an oath of allegiance.
I signed up in to the Army as an apprentice in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and was based in Arborfield near Reading UK while I did my basic training. To cut a long story short I failed on my first attempt as I just couldn’t get fit enough and my personal administration i.e. Barrack room cleaning/presentation was utter shit and wasn’t to the standard required of a British soldier.I always hated the bullshit side of the Army but when it came to field exercises I was in my element and was the best shot in my intake though not awarded this due to failing the course. I could argue I was somewhat picked out for harsher treatment due my Dad’s background and they found the cracks in my character and exploited them till I crumbled.
That was best part of 4 months of my life down the drain and I wasn’t alone in failing as others had failed too, but for me personally it was a real low point for me as I felt ashamed and thought I’d failed my dad most of all which hurt the most.
When others on my course who had failed decided they couldn’t face another 4 months of grueling training and beastings decided to leave, I heard the voice of that Sgt from my cadets days ringing in my ears telling me about the will to survive. I’d gone through so much hell to get in to the Army and endure what I did that I was determined not to let people see me fail and quit. So to my training staffs’ surprise I told them I was going nowhere and going to have another crack at passing. I think in doing so the directing staff saw that I’m stronger and mentally tougher than they had originally thought and as a result they may have started to respect me more and help me in my weaker areas of soldiering.
Suffice to say that this did indeed prove very useful to me as I got fitter, stronger and much better at keeping things tidy – not perfect but good enough and I eventually was told by my platoon commander I’d be passing out with my intake which I remember very vividly as I was shouting all the way down the barrack corridor in a full on war scream letting all the pent up frustrations and worries out. Not only I’d passed out but I was also being honoured with two awards! Best shot (of course) and best at drill.
On the Pass off parade I was awarded my trophies in front of my Dad, Grandad (also Don Ward!) and my mother. To say it was one of the proudest moments of my life is an understatement and I remember grinning like a Cheshire cat when marching on to the parade square. After all the dust had settled I went through phase two training which was the technical electronics training which was tough as my maths skills were not the best. I passed all the necessary exams and at the end we then had to select which discipline of technical training to choose from. There were limited numbers on the courses and some courses mean waiting for a long time – typically these were always the popular choices such as Aircraft Tech, and the “Ece tech” who would work on Tank systems. As patience didn’t exist in my vocabulary there was a new trade being opened up and pioneered which was a combination of electronics and an existing trade called “Instruments Tech”. This trade historically was primary responsible for all optics used in the Army from Tank sights to binoculars. However as the modern Army was fitting new and more advanced sighting systems this required the need for skill technicians with electronics training. I was the first to volunteer for this course which unbeknown to me, actually meant an awful lot more training and time between me passing and getting out to a unit! Anyway I passed the course with a little help but was promoted to Lance Corporal and sent to Germany for my first posting.
My Germany posting was just awesome for the first three years as I did a couple of “operational” tours to Kosovo with NATO and lived the life of a free single man with no care in the world and life at my feet. I was promoted to full Corporal but noticed that my passion in being in the Army was starting to diminish due to pressures being placed on it and the individuals. Tours were coming round more frequently as were lengthy exercises. The fun factors were also getting few and farther between and there were a few dents to my personal life that were getting on top of me to the point where I saw my future elsewhere other than the Army. I took the toughest decision of my life and “Signed Off” and started the count down to leaving the Army. I’d already done an awful lot during my time in the Army and can’t mention all here due to security but the friends I’ve made are lifelong as anyone in the forces will be able to relate to. Ironically I left the Army as there were no wars on…..go figure!!! I think it was destiny that I left before Iraq/Afghanistan but I’ll always wonder if I ever had what it takes to remain cool calm and collected under enemy fire.
One thing will never change though. I will always be Army through and through and have the highest respect for all service men and women which ever service they are in which includes Police/Fire/CoastGuard/Ambulance etc.
So what does one do when the leave the Army? Well I had to have a plan. I sat down and though about what interests me and what my skills in the Army as an Instruments Technician were translatable. If was pointed out to me that I was great at fault finding and logically finding out problems and find options to fix them. I’d already fixed a few PC’s for friends and one of them suggested I go in to computing so I took a look and found myself an MCSE course which back in those days was THE course to do as virtualisation hadn’t really took off then and I was oblivious to their existence any way. In the Army we have a system of “Resettlement” by where you are entitled to funds for training based on the number of years you have completed. I’d done 7 years which gave me a healthy lump sum to chose and pay a course in. As I’d already found a course I wanted to do I just needed to decide where. I had a choice of taking the course in Salisbury UK which pisses down with rain for most of the year OR I go to Cape Town in South Africa and do 6 weeks training in a 5 star hotel……………
Needless to say I went and did in Cape Town and lived like a rock star for the full 6 weeks until I’d obtained nice new shiny Microsoft qualifications and now faced with the daunting prospect of getting a real job in the UK on my return. I was asked to be a 1st line help desk technician for a consultancy providing services for Microsoft TECHED Barcelona and I got a real taste of the IT world and all that it incorporates. I was out of my depth having to configure wireless on all manner of laptops which I’d never seen or touch or even training in for that matter but I did learn rapidly which was a good sign but it was only a 2 week job.
Once back in the UK I couldn’t get a job as I’d no experience and couldn’t get experience as I’d no job. Chicken and Egg situation comes to mind. To make ends meet I took up various jobs to keep money coming in such as sales in Ski holidays which I had a ball doing as I’m passionate about skiing and this was translated through to customers and ended up with me doing very well for myself but my eye was always targeting my first IT job. It came in the form of a position opening in the very same Ski holiday company as a first line administrator and from there on I pushed myself harder and harder to climb up the industry ladder to my current role as a principal technical architect.
During this time in my personal life things have changed massively for me. I met a girl whilst working for Teletext as I had to fix her Mac which strangely kept breaking or having issues with remarkable frequency ever since I fix it for her the first time….. Her name was Tammy and she turned my world inside out and upside down. She’s dragged me out of debt by cooling my impulsiveness but most of all Tammy has shown me what I was missing in my life which was real love and devotion and we married in 2009 in Cambridge Trinity College Chapel which was an emotional and magical day.
Tammy has been instrumental in supporting my whims, role changes and ambitions. Not only this, but inadvertently Tammy led me on to a path to find another true calling. Motorbikes.
Tammy and I were fed up of the rat race in London and wanted more space so we moved out of London to Cambridge. To reduce travel cost and commute time the cheapest form of transport (or so we thought) was to get a motorbike. Things kinda escalated and before I knew it was a hardcore biker and embraced it with every fibre of my being. I guess it’s the desire to belong to something which I’ve always craved on account of being an only child but I’ve really sunk my teeth in to it and not gonna let it go and a few Isle of Man TT’s later and many trackdays I’ve achieved my ultimate goal of getting my prized Yamaha YZF R1 2009. Much expense in upgrades has been festooned on this bike as well major frustrations when it breaks like a gear box replacement £1500 and throttle bodies £600 but it’s a labour of love.
If it’s one thing I will say, it’s that I do have expensive hobbies. Skiiing, Motorbikes, Airsoft (Playing soldiers), two manic Tri Colour Border Collies and Rugby are all things that do seem to consume all my wealth!
However now I have a new toy to play with which is the best present any woman can give a man and that’s my new Son Max Ward born this March 2014.
I used to think I knew what life was all about but when I looked in to my sons eyes as he opened them for the first I time I really knew what it was all about. It’s Max that is now my passion, my inspiration and my ambitions. It is now my desire to work my guts out and knuckle down and show my real potential as an virtualisation architect and reap the rewards so that I can provide Team Ward with all the tools and support they need to get a head start on the every increase competitive world.
That is all………..thanks for reading.