Mike logs on for 30th year as Sheffield City Trust celebrates long service awards!

Several long-serving members of our staff recently celebrated their work anniversaries with ICT manager Mike Cook achieving 30 years with the organisation.

Mike, aged 55, who lives in Handsworth says he has seen enormous amounts of change since he joined what was then called Sheffield for Health in the accounts department.

“I was based at head office at Don Valley Stadium, which was one of just four venues that we looked after back then – the others being Sheffield Arena, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and Ponds Forge,” he said.

“I’d been working at a meat wholesaler as an office junior when I saw in The Star the opportunity for the job. I was aged 25 and I probably didn’t expect to still be here 30 years later.”

Although Mike’s day job was finance he was beginning to take an interest in the growing field of IT.

He said: “IT was very much a hobby – I enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together again. But I was gaining responsibility in the accounts team, which had now grown from just two of us to about eight or nine.

“I was going to night school doing a programming course and I started dipping my toe in the water at work. The first task was helping to upgrade the box office system at the Arena as no one there had any knowledge of how the system worked.

“Although accounting was my day job I was doing more and more in IT and it really reached a pinnacle just before 2000 when all the hype about the Millennium Bug was making big news and we thought planes may start to fall out of the sky.

“As it turned out we didn’t have any issues but what it did mean was that I was working seven days a week, which with a young family wasn’t ideal.”

Mike was at a crossroads in his career but a conversation with the Trust’s then chief executive Steve Brailey made things clearer.

“I approached Steve at the back end of 1999 and said I couldn’t do both,” explained Mike. “He asked which job I preferred – finance or IT – and the next day I was in a brand-new role working specifically in IT.

“It was at a time when more computers were being introduced into offices across every industry and it seemed like I was learning something new every day.”

Learning and developing his knowledge has become key to Mike’s job as he has overseen huge change over the past near quarter of a century, including things we take for granted these days such as email, the internet and company-wide intranets.

Mike said: “I have had to do a lot of training courses and you also just learn as you go as you manage projects from start through to completion.

“A lot of the time I have volunteered myself to take the lead on issues, the implementation GDPR being one of them.”

Recent years have tested Mike and his team of 12, with the pandemic being particularly “difficult” as our staff relocated to home working for several months.

However, he says, the biggest challenge is the amount of new venues Sheffield City Trust has taken on since he first joined.

“From four venues to where we are now with 15 means we have been part of the city in terms of how people exercise and attend events,” said Mike.

“My favourite venue is Sheffield City Hall, and that was a huge project to take on, when they came under our management, as was the building of iceSheffield when my team were involved from day one.

“Because of the importance of IT it means we’re available 24/7. I can’t remember the last time I switched my phone off!”

Current chief executive of Sheffield City Trust Andrew Snelling said: “It is great to see so many people celebrating their long service with the Trust.

“It is a fantastic achievement for Mike, and also Claire Eckersley – one of our superb domestic assistants – to have worked with us for 30 years. We thank them for their service along with everyone else who works tirelessly in our centres every day.”

Celebrating 20 years’ service are: Clare Bamford, Group Fitness Instructor; Sarah Kriel, Swimming Teacher; Kim Savage, Group Fitness Instructor; Tanya Simpkins-Green, Swimming Teacher; Julie Evison, Swimming Teacher; Julie Fearnley, Domestic Supervisor and Tanya Hutchinson, Accounts Assistant.

And to those celebrating 30 years’ service, ‘Congratulations!': Claire Eckersley, Domestic Assistant; and Mike Cook, ICT Manager.