As a Principal Network Engineer at Virgin Media, Chris Cook is only the second person to win the ITP’s Engineer of the Year Award – originally launched in 2017. Starting his career in the military, Chris has progressed through the telecoms ranks. We chatted to him about his career and what winning means to him.
Can you tell us about your telecoms career history so far?
I spent 22 years in the Royal Marines, and when I left, I joined a small cable company as Service Engineer. I then progressed on to become a Network Engineer, and since 2007 I have been working as Principal Network Engineer for Virgin.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
There have been a few throughout my career, however a real highlight for me was being recognised for this award against fellow engineers (not just those from Virgin Media). The competition was of a high standard, so I was delighted to have won – it has been a real boost.
How important is mentoring to you? Have you been mentored or mentored a colleague?
It’s very important, whilst in the Royal Marines I instructed in signals. I ran courses for up to 30 marines at any one time. I also mentored engineers and apprentices at Virgin Media and have really enjoyed seeing their successes and watching them progress in their careers.
What does winning mean to you?
It demonstrates that my work is held in high esteem and is a huge reward for all the efforts I have applied in my role. I hope that it also inspires my colleagues to work hard and aim high, so that they can also achieve similar accolades. After 21 years in telecoms outside the military, this has got to be one of the high points of my career.
What has happened since winning the award?
It has inspired my team and engineering colleagues and made a positive impact, demonstrating to all of us that the work we do is important, and admired.
What advice would you give others considering entering an industry award?
Don’t underestimate what impact you have on others and what you’ve achieved, be humble but don’t be afraid of shouting about your hard work. Putting pen to paper might just highlight what sometimes, you, yourself might underestimate.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in telecoms?
Telecoms is such a vast beast and the options are endless if you like to be challenged or enjoy working out puzzles. There are so many different options; working as a team, customer facing or adding value in the bigger arena – the possibilities are endless. I have also found that understanding one engineering solution can open doors to others. Two months are also never the same and we are always facing new refreshing challenges.