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Five minute profile: interview with Keith Groat

Ketih Groat headshot in greyscale
Five minute profiles

Research Data Scotland

24 Nov 2023

We spoke to Keith Groat, Technology Support Officer, about what it's like to work at RDS and how his experience led him to the role.

What’s your role at RDS and what does your typical workday involve?

As Technology Support Officer in the Digital team, I assist our Chief Information Officer with various technical duties at RDS. I usually start the day reviewing dashboards, audit logs, support desk queries and researching solutions across the organisation’s Microsoft 365 systems. However, IT never stands still and there is always something new to challenge, assist or resolve.

My role is people-focused and involves supporting colleagues by giving advice and training to facilitate better use of technology, and ensuring compliance with policies and procedures. I also have responsibility for the organisation's cyber security as RDS works towards the Cyber Essentials accreditation.

This all ensures that RDS has a robust technical foundation and keeps security at the core of the organisation’s mission of enabling simpler, quicker access to sensitive public sector data for research. 

What’s your background and how does it give you additional insight to your work at RDS?

I had an artistic and technical background growing up and so I started out in architecture, working  for several Edinburgh practices on drawing boards and later CAD (Computer-Aided Design) systems. CAD management took me to Asia in the mid-nineties where I worked for over three years before returning to Edinburgh and later joining RDS in April 2023.

Working across multidisciplinary teams has set me in good stead for my role at RDS, which often involves working across the organisation and supporting lots of different projects at the same time. It keeps you engaged, and embracing change is key. 

“You must also be vigilant to make sure that systems and people are protected against the latest cyber threats, which is vital to help maintain public support for what we do”

Keith Groat

What’s a highlight and a challenge of your role?

A highlight is getting to know all my RDS colleagues in this new organisation as it grows, working from home or at the Bayes Centre and connecting with our partner organisations. I am both a problem solver and implementer, and I enjoy thoroughly researching solutions to assist RDS teams develop towards a common goal.

A challenge would be the ever-evolving changes in technology, which mean that you are always learning and appraising new ways to achieve goals. You must also be vigilant to make sure that systems and people are protected against the latest cyber threats, which is vital to help maintain public support for what we do. 

What difference do you hope RDS will make?

I hope that we can maintain the Scottish public’s trust in the values of RDS, and generate more support for research in the public good. By providing secure access to public sector data, we can enable research that can benefit people living in Scotland now and their descendants in the future. If I can help make that happen even in a support role, then it’s a step towards a healthier society. 

What would be your "Mastermind" specialist subject?

I have a varied taste in music, but I would say “music of the eighties”, a diverse and innovative period of new wave (romantic) artists, great rock bands and synthesizers, and it’s still popular today.

Who, real-life or public figure, has inspired or motivated you in your career or life?   

A senior architect colleague who worked with me in Asia offered me the following advice: “embrace the opportunities you are given in life, while holding true to your values”. I like to think that this led me to joining RDS in my current role.

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