You'll often hear her coming before you see her! Farah has been with Planet just over a year and recently landed in her natural position of Voice & Connectivity Services Manager.
SIP, VoIP, FTTC, FTTP, PSTN, ISDN, ADSL, GEA, EFM, UC... she can spell them all!
This week's Planet Hero, Farah Nazir-Chapman 👏
Firstly Farah, Why Telephony?
I fell into it by accident actually, I was studying ballet and drama and took a part time telesales job for Samsung Telecom.
Following the completion of my studies, I was contemplating joining a travelling theatre company to get an equity card but ended up accepting a full time job with Samsung and the rest is history!
Telephony has changed so much in the last few years and is still rapidly evolving. What new area are you most excited about?
Definitely hosted and UC. Planet IT have partnered with leading industry vendors and have a wide range of telephony and connectivity offerings available to suit every organisation of any size. I am particularly excited to be working with Wildix, as it is truly disruptive due to the extensive feature set, rarely seen on a hosted solution. Working with the Wildix team and seeing what it is capable of now, makes me truly excited to see where it will go in the future.
What's your favourite tool or hack?
Due to the telephone engineer code of conduct, I cannot answer that …….
So gaffer tape, yeah?
Ahmmm… I said I can’t answer… 🤫
When you start getting geeky about SIP, Unified Communications and Data & Access - what do you think is going through other people's minds?
To be completely honest, most people assume that I am a beautician or a hairdresser 😊…. When they ask what I do for a living and I start talking excitedly about how the virtualisation of voice is changing the way people work, I can see people thinking “I didn’t see that coming”…..
I also frequently look at which handsets feature in well know TV programmes and in shops when I am out and about….. In fact, I did email a large TV production company and advised them that in an episode of a much loved TV Detective series the combination of handsets and dubbed over ring tone was inaccurate, I offered my assistance from a continuity perspective but sadly I did not get a response…
What current tech can't you wait to see improved or made redundant?
ISDN and copper based services. Its outdated and restrictive, however it is set to be phased out completely by 2025 with a cease to provide September 2023.
My voice is on hundreds of systems and on hold services everywhere
During this time of Covid - what business habits have you seen emerge? What has impressed you? What has shocked you?
COVID has definitely changed most peoples perception of working from home. Many organisations have shyed away from implementing home workers, despite the tech having been available for years!
For example Wildix can be deployed very quickly and is available across up to 10 devices at no additional charge. In a business critical situation we are able to implement this within a very short space of time, which is crucial to maintaining the business continuity for our clients.
The shocking side, has been calling organisations where they have literally recorded a message saying that they are out of the office so send an email or have even diverted a fully loaded ISDN 30 to a mobile!
I love that video calls frequently feature children and nonchalant cats and that UC is now pretty much the norm.
I urge anyone is struggling to identify the best way to move into the cloud from a voice perspective, to contact me, first and foremost I am an engineer (not a sales person) and finding the most technically appropriate solution for a company is why I do this job, it is actually very rewarding.
What advice would you have for businesses right now?
Now is an ideal time to install dedicated fibre connectivity, particularly when Planet can offer big incentives such as Virgin contracts with 5 months of free rentals (ending soon). Also once the connectivity is in in, start the process of moving voice into the IP cloud, whether that is via Direct routing for Teams, SIP trunks connected to an on premise system or going fully hosted with Wildix or Ring Central. There are so many incentives available and me and my team are on hand to demystify the tech side.
Planet IT - what's it like to work there?
Its like one big family! I believe that the noise levels have increased since I joined…… but I like that it’s a team where we work and play together. Also there are some great characters and colourful personalities. It’s a great mix and a fun place to work.
Outside Planet IT - what makes you tick?
Shopping!!! Its called retail therapy for a reason…..( I own over 300 pairs of shoes … don ‘t judge me) and have a huge makeup collection….. Spending time with family, friends and my nephews and nieces.
Since dogs are clearly superior, why are you a cat person? –
😱 how dare you……. Princess Mariah has featured regularly in my Video calls since March… I love that she is a diva… I have no idea where she gets that from
Wait, your cat is called Princess Mariah? What? Why? Really?
It’s a long story, my niece Lara was only 3 at the time and wanted to name her. She loved Mariah Carey and Disney Princesses. I didn’t really think it through though… when she is called at the vets they always say her name and then my surname, the looks I get are pure comedy! I fully acknowledge it’s a tad extra 😊
OK, I have to ask; Pole dancing... explain?
I fell into this by accident and just went to a trial class. Pretty soon after that I had passed all of the exams and loved it! It's actually a really technical and disciplined dance form, very similar to ballet. When I first started learning years ago, I was always covered in bruises, but it's so empowering and an amazing way to stay in shape. It completely deserves to be an Olympic sport!
You are also a Voice Over Artist tell me more?
I recorded by chance, some prompts on a system as a favour and then ended up recording prompts, greetings, information on hold and queue messages. It pretty much snowballed from there. My voice is on hundreds of systems and on hold services everywhere. I frequently get calls and texts from people saying they have been stuck in a queue of my voice telling them their call is important, please continue to hold.
If you were a real life superhero what would your superpower be?
Definitely a cloak of invisibility……. 😉
American crime series, Sex and the City box sets and cocktails….. oh and bizarrely I like River Monsters… I only found this out when I lost my TV remote and sat through 3 hours of Jeremy Wade 😊
If someone pronounced your name wrong what would you do?
This is a hot potato….. I get called so many variations of my name, my favourite is Nadia Chapman, Dr Farah, Farrah, Farrar, Sara I could go on….……. but many people refer to me as “the Telephone lady” It does really depend on the situation… I tend to spell it out using the Foxtrot alpha Romeo alpha Hotel……. The amount of times I do that and hear the rest of the office laugh ……..
If you were to give advice to a 14 year old you - what would it be?
Believe you can do it and you will. There are still few female engineers in comms and I honestly never thought I was a technical person nor had the ability to grasp the technicalities of an engineering role in this industry. I joke all the time that I fear one day I will wake up and not be technical anymore …
Wear SPF all the time, start skincare as early as possible and ALWAYS buy the damn shoes!
If you were to give advice to a young person thinking of entering the world of IT or Voice & Connectivity - what would it be?
If technology excites you, this is definitely the industry for you. The satisfaction you get when a system is configured and implemented, is the best feeling ever. Seeing the difference it makes to our customers and how the user experience is improved, is the reason I have stayed in this industry so long. Its fast paced, a bit stressful but really rewarding!
Farah leads our Voice & Connectivity team and holds a wealth of knowledge about all things telephony, connectivity and beyond. Seriously, there are very few in the industry with the capability Farah has.
If are struggling with communicating with your team, your customers or the outside world, then I strongly recommend a conversation with Farah. You can get in touch directly on 01235 433916 or email firstname.lastname@example.org