This month’s Tech Inspirer is our friendly neighbourhood IT guy – Phyras El Amin. Phyras talks to us about working through Ramadan, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.

 

Phyras El AminPhyras, you’re observing Ramadan at the moment, how are things going? And could you tell us a bit more about it?

I’m a bit tired, a bit caffeine deprived, but I’m getting there. 

Ramadan is a month of fasting, but it’s not just fasting from food and water – that’s normally what everyone else sees – but you’re actually fasting with your mind, fasting with your tongue, and you’re meant to be much more generous as a Muslim within this month. You’re meant to be giving to charity. You’re meant to be doing good deeds. You should abstain from negativity, you should always be positive. You should be bringing people up. And you should also be praying – it’s a month of prayer and knowledge of our religion and our faith. A month of family, a month of connections. It’s meant to be a fast that purifies your soul and your spirit. And, you know, sometimes you’re sitting there and you feel like, my soul is feeling really purified but I could really go for a coffee right now!

It’s obviously something that’s been a big part of your life. What does it mean to you?

It’s a month where I can go back to my roots and really remember the important things. In our day to day lives we can lose track of the important things like your family, your spirituality, your background, where you come from, and your values. It’s really busy. This month when the family breaks their fast together, you’re sitting together and afterwards you’re just spending a lot more time thinking about what’s important. That hunger in your stomach is reminding you to pray and reminding you of the reason for this month and reminding you that there’s people across the world that don’t have the money to be able to eat and they’re always feeling this hungry. It’s a reminder that everyone is equal around the world. Some people don’t have a date to break their fast on and we’re lucky here where we’re actually abstaining from food. 

You mentioned being coffee deprived – how does it impact you physically and mentally? 

The first couple of weeks were a lot harder than it is now, at the moment I’m okay. Transpire has been really flexible with me, I’ve been allowed to adjust my hours so if I need a nap in the morning, I can just push my hours into the afternoon. Some meetings have been replaced by messages, that’s been amazing. And I do like to have a coffee in the evening, so sometimes like last night I was up until about midnight working on some documentation because I was still buzzing. 

Do you have some colleagues that are going through this as well that you’ve been able to lean on?

Transpire is such a diverse team – I think there’s about five of us who are fasting at the moment. Everyone’s doing really well. We had a Cloud team lunch scheduled last week then we realised that four out of five of us were fasting, so we couldn’t really go to lunch, so we had to reschedule it until after Ramadan!

What would you say to someone who is interested in Transpire’s approach to flexibility?

If you want to find a role that’s flexible, that allows you to look after your family or your lifestyle, where you can have that proper work-life balance, Transpire is the way to go. They really look after you – all you have to do is ask honestly, and if you voice your concern, someone will hear it and someone will sort it out for you. All I did was I just had a chat with Steve (Godbold, Cloud Director) before Ramadan started and I asked him if it was okay to alter my hours, and he said of course it is.

You’re in a new role as part of the new Cloud team here at Transpire. What’s that been like?

I’m the IT Security and Operations administrator here at Transpire, looking after IT operations and cybersecurity. Essentially I maintain all of our applications and make sure that everything runs smoothly on a day to day basis. I look into any issues that we may find, any new features that we want to try and test, any new systems that we want to integrate into our work. I’m your go-to to make sure that all of the software tools that we use are all secure and that everyone is granted the correct permissions, plus documenting policies and sharing knowledge along the way. 

It’s a lot of work, but it’s very satisfying. Just rolling out something new across the whole company and seeing the shift in usage, seeing our security health scores, graphing everything for the end of month reports – I love it. 

Working hand in hand with some of the Cloud team’s amazing people has been incredible – they teach me so much every day. 

What is it you love about technology?

I love that it’s ever changing and constantly growing and we can barely keep up with it. I grew up without a phone, then watched the iPhone launch and now we have the iPhone 13. I saw the difference between when we didn’t have tech to now that we do, I saw the rise of social media. I love tech but I can still go without it. I’m that person that can switch off their Facebook and not bother looking at it. The whole world is reliant on technology. But are we reliant on technology or is technology reliant on us? 

You’re a pretty busy guy. This is not all that you do for work, is it?

I also run my own mobile car detailing business on the side, that’s been running for seven years now. And lately I’ve been pushing into the eCommerce realm so instead of going out and breaking my back, I’m starting to sell my own products. I’ve been building my website in the background and using the skills that I learn every day for my own little personal bits and pieces. Don’t worry, I’m not in competition with Transpire!

What are you excited about in the next year?

I’m excited to see the growth of everyone that I work with. And I’m excited to see where I am in 12 months as well. In the past year I’ve gone from support to working on project management to developing to fixing to QA and everything in between. I’m excited to see what the future holds for me, for my colleagues and for the company.