Vix Employee Spotlight – Stuart Burns, Service Support Manager

We next shine the Employee Spotlight on our talented Service Support Manager, Stuart Burns from the UK.

Stuart started working at Vix back in 2003 as a Field Engineer and has progressively developed his career within Vix since. With a drive for new challenges, his roles have included Project and Team Management, configuration of Software and Hardware, and Service Support.

Read on to learn more about Stuart.

How did you get your start here at Vix?

I started as a Field Engineer in 2003 with ACIS (now part of the Vix family), when RTPI and AVL was still in it’s infancy.

My responsibilities were initially installing / maintaining Real Time Passenger Information displays, radio network and transmission equipment, on vehicle tracking systems, driver communication and next stop announcement equipment, operator consoles and regional server infrastructure, Bus Station servers and information displays and deploying / uploading / broadcasting data configurations and software updates within Norfolk and Suffolk areas and around the UK.

What is your current role?

I have recently taken on a new role returning to Vix as Service Support Manager, looking after the Applications and Configurations teams supporting the BusNet systems within the UK and around the world, managing central servers and applications software L2 support.

I am also currently involved in a major and challenging project to migrate our customers systems to the cloud and AWS based systems to improve resilience, security and long term support for the future.

Within Vix, I have often had multiple concurrent roles including project and team management, configuration of software / hardware and field engineer roles, so am always looking to adapt and grow my skill sets.

What would you say drives you?

I am always driven to try and deliver the best for the customers and teams I work with – resolving issues, improving the customer experience and satisfaction for deployed systems, making them the best they can possibly be.

I have a keen interest in technology and developments. I like to stretch my skills wherever I can – learning and developing my knowledge. In my personal time I have recently taught myself to fabricate, weld and paint while restoring a vintage VW splitscreen camper van – which I now enjoy driving around the country with family and dogs in tow.

I love to travel and am always looking at the next adventure to get stuck into and broaden my horizons. Health issues and a diagnosis of MS around 10 years ago taught me to evaluate what is important and not wait for tomorrow or have regrets in later life about opportunities or experiences I had not taken up.

What does your average day look like?

Being L2 support, every day is different, and challenging in different ways.

We normally start with a team stand up and discuss issues from the day /evening before, and begin to plan workloads and tasks, discuss challenges and help each other within the team to resolve current problems.

Usually a new challenge or set of work will pop up requiring plans to be rapidly changed and for the team to bounce from current work to help.

The end of the day normally involves a stock take and look at the issues resolved so we can learn or make adjustments to improve or prevent the issue occurring again. Being able to work proactively and juggle workloads is essential within the team I manage.

What are some of the more significant changes you have seen with transit as a whole since you started?

Within the UK, the RTPI and AVL sector has undergone significant growth and change over the last 20 years, sometimes at blistering pace, particularly with systems being originally Local Authority and Government backed, have now transitioned to Transit Operator managed and operated systems that feed Local Authorities and on street display infrastructure.

Standalone Tracking systems have merged technologies into integrated ticketing and tracking machines. Intelligence and Smart Cities, such as Centralized Traffic Light Priority, have improved journey times, saved fuel and helped the environment where it has been embraced.

Advances in technology and communication methods have replaced dedicated Radio transmission networks with high speed 3G and 4G connections allowing content rich multi modal information to be accessed.

Members of the public have also benefited from innovative real-time solutions. Starting with SMS requests back in the early 2000’s, we have transitioned to the ability to access real time stop information from websites and mobile apps – this allows journey planning and virtual real time information to be shown on a smartphone in real time.

The passenger experience on vehicle has changed immeasurably over the last 20 years. Next stop announcements, content rich displays and disability inclusive technology like low floor ramp accessible fleets, open up public travel for groups who were previously excluded.

Have you ever visited another Vix office? If not, tell us which you would like to visit most.

I have worked and visited almost all of the Vix UK offices and service depots over the years, having also opened and managed a regional depot within East Anglia during my time as Regional Area Team Leader. I have been also fortunate to take part in international deployment work in America and Australia, working with Transit Operators and Local Authorities, and also working from the Perth Offices in Western Australia during my time with Vix.

How do you wind down after work?

There is nothing better for me and my wife Alyson during the summer months than packing the dogs into our vintage VW Splitscreen campervan and driving out to a beach and spending the evening letting them run around followed by a bite to eat. If I am not doing that, then I am probably underneath the campervan dealing with the oily bits and keeping it in a serviceable condition for our adventures and travels further afield.

What’s the most unique part about working here?

No day is ever the same, there is always a new challenge to overcome or something unique or different on the horizon to work on. If keeping your mind challenged and absorbing new skills and information is what you desire, then Vix can certainly deliver on that front.

Stuart Burns

What’s your favourite place you’ve ever visited?

I have been very fortunate to travel extensively with my wife Alyson, some favorites so far are swimming with Leatherback Turtles in Barbados, and stepping back in time and immersing ourselves in Havana – but I think our favorite place to return to is the Isle of Wight during the summer, and for the music festival camping in our classic VW campervan.

Do you have a favorite charity you wish more people knew about?

A personal one would be the MS Trust. While fit and healthy, I have been able to raise funds running the Great North Run and other similar activities, and have benefited from their research and investment in new treatments directly. This has involved clinical trials for medication that is now front line treatment for Relapsing Remitting MS that have helped both myself and others.