Five minute Interview: Danny Blanchette

11:01 am in interviews by m.guy

Who are you?
My name is Danny Blanchette, 31 years old and new (as of September 2009) to the HE/public sector! I’ve been in IT since I was 19, working for BT Labs, then as an Analyst Programmer for

Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for the University of Essex as their Systems Programmer. The title is a bit misleading as I look after any web related servers whilst also doing my fair share of programming.

What are your main areas of interest?
Whilst I am primarily focused on looking at server technology, I’m an analyst programmer at heart with a particular interest in making code shareable, testable and stable. In terms of IWMW and what with coming from a very different background, I am really interested to see how other institutions are working.

Are you working on anything exciting?
The universities web servers are due for renewal very soon so I’m busy looking at IIS7 web farm options and the possibility of using webdav to allow our devolved authors to have editing access. The challenge to tick all the boxes for our userbase and yet satisfy our own demands for a scalable IT solution is immense, but that’s part of the fun right??

Have you been to IWMW before?
No. I only just accepted my new position here just as IWMW @ Essex Uni was finishing. Which was a bit of a shame as it would have been ideal to get an insight from day one. However I’ve heard a lot of good things so I’m hoping it was worth the wait :)

What has been the best bit this year so far?
All of it has been brilliant. By far the highlights were Sid and Paul Boag’s p5/p6 talks, however the StudentNet portal was a great technological demo. If pushed to select just a single highlight, I would go with Josef Lapkas StudentNet – to save me having to decide between Sid & Paul! The project management parallel session also deserves a mention.

What will you take away?
I think it has given us all a lot to think about. It seemed the theme or emphasis was on being more like the commercial world, and I think that personally is where I want to spend my efforts focusing us. We need to be flexible, dynamic and enthusiastic about change and I felt IWMW really pushed that message out.

Will you do anything differently as a result of IWMW?
I don’t know I will do anything differently as I am still relatively new here and so I already want to do things quite differently to how they were/are. However IWMW has provided that ‘caffeine boost’ to make sure I carry out those changes that I can and hassle people to make the changes I can’t.

What do you think would be the impact on you or your organisation if there was no IWMW?
Having never been to one I really was quite sceptical it could live up to what other people were saying. However I thought it was fantastic. It was great to actually meet people in similar roles in other institutions and talk to them face to face. Much of what I got out of IWMW was actually in the breaks between talks, forcing myself to talk to people I hadn’t come with and so I could learn how places like Oxford, Bath, Kent, Canterbury, Colchester Institute and more differed in their web and overall IT approaches.

Not having IWMW would definitely isolate the institutions from each other a lot more, and in the current climate I don’t think we can afford to do that.