Typical 24: Dr Sandra Bell, Sungard Availability Services

What do working professionals really do all day?

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…


[image_library_tag 7808ad1a-64ed-484c-a54d-7a985963e25b 175x212 alt="23-10-2017-dr-sandra-bell-sungard-availability-services" title="23-10-2017-dr-sandra-bell-sungard-availability-services - " width="175" height="212"class="left "]
Dr Sandra Bell

Job title: Head of Resilience Consulting (Europe)

Company: Sungard Availability Services

Location: Europe

Years’ experience: 31


  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    I look after the European Resilience Consulting Practice for Sungard Availability Services and therefore my work location is different every day. Some days are “admin” days looking after the finances and contracts – but more often than not I am out and about at client sites across the whole of Europe.
  2. Is your job varied?
    My job is extremely varied. One day I may be advising a small manufacturing enterprise in the North of England about how to protect themselves from flooding, and the next I may be providing executive coaching to the CEO of a multinational financial institution to help them make their organisation resilient against cyber-attacks.
  3. Is your job creative?
    As with any discipline, the theory of continuity and resilience is different from the practice and a degree of creativity is required in each implementation. Every member of my team has been hand-picked because they have, not only a good foundation in the theory, but also many years of practical (and creative) experience. To be resilient, an organisation needs to be able to harness and combine conventional defensive capabilities (such as information security, disaster recovery, business continuity and emergency management) with offensive capabilities such as situational awareness, innovation, crisis management and decision making under stress. Every member of my team is a leading expert in their field, and the value comes from being able to combine that expertise so that the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
  5. Do you personalise your desk?
    As I can be working from anywhere, I don’t have a permanent desk. The bag that contains my laptop is the closest thing that I have to desk. I have many laptop bags – ranging from strictly utilitarian to girly and frivolous dependent on my mood. However, they all have one thing in common - a box of Earl Grey tea.
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    Yes – I would definitely describe myself as creative. I spent the early part of my career as a research scientist for the UK Ministry of Defence developing innovative technical solutions to solve real world problems. I hold a PhD in defining a material system to protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices, as well as a number of patents on materials for various uses. I like to think that the discipline of the scientific method coupled with creativity is now helping Sungard AS clients find new and innovative ways to ensure that it can not only survive but, more importantly prosper, in the face of disruption.
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    I would love to say I rise at 0600hrs every day, do an hour of yoga and then meditate before I go to work. However, the truth of the matter is that the only ritual I observe is that I like to have a cup of coffee in peace at the start of each day to sort through important emails before I speak to anyone.
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    The beauty of my job is that no two days are the same. Therefore, whilst I absolutely thrive on bringing multi-disciplinary teams together to solve difficult problems, I also like to spend time thinking issues through by myself.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    Too many – according to my family.
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    Not enough – according to the people who send them to me.
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    I was one of the early adopters of social media. Back in the early 90s I pioneered the use of Newgroups to provide real time expert advice to War Games. People communicate in all sorts of different ways therefore if you want to harness the knowledge from everyone you need to keep all lines of communication open. Likewise, the technology in social media is inherently non-discriminatory and therefore levels the playing field.
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    The two most enjoyable things about my job are: the extensive variety – the diversity of our customers means that no two days are the same, and the people – every day I have the privilege of working with experts from a vast array of consulting, technical and business disciplines.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    I don’t listen to music at work. However, if I did it would be Blues & Soul.
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    I used to grab a sandwich at my desk. However, since taking over a team in France I have learnt the value of a proper break during the day. I now make sure that I have proper down-time and, as an absolute minimum, I go for a 20 minute walk (no matter the weather!).
  15. Do you socialise with work colleagues?
    The world of the consultant is that you often find yourself in random hotels around the globe with colleagues. If you didn’t socialise – you’d probably go mad.
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    Many, many years ago I worked as a barmaid at the Student Union bar at my University. I can’t tell you how pleased I was not to have to collect glasses at the end of the night from drunken students.
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    My last task of everyday is to close down my laptop properly – important from a security perspective. But it signifies to me a switch from work to home. 
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
    I love to go home and catch up on what my children have done that day.
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    I tend to check emails as soon as I get home (usually in the car on the drive to check what I missed on the way home) and just before I go to bed (to ensure that I am not blind-sided first thing in the morning).
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    I often work from home and therefore drawing a line between home and work can be a challenge at times.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    I love the idea of being an artist in my own studio where I could create enormous abstract paintings to my heart’s content. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have the skill.
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?
    No – for security reasons I am required to use a managed end-point.