Category News
Publication date
24 May 2024

Meet the Team: Support Engineer Gavin Hughes

Time to read 11 minutes read

Gavin Hughes is one of Annertech’s longest-serving employees. He’s a crucial part of Annertech's Managed Services team, and helps to ensure our clients' needs are met.

Gavin Hughes has been with Annertech for 11 years. He’s skilled with both backend and frontend development and is a versatile asset on the Managed Services team, which handles a variety of tasks and feature requests. 

He has been the lead support engineer on websites such as Oxfam Ireland, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, and Glanbia’s growing portfolio of sites. 

Alison Visser: What do you do at Annertech? 

Gavin Hughes: My official title is support engineer. But it has evolved over time. I’m a fullstack developer, so I work on both front- and backend development. 

Alison: How did you get into this line of work? 

Gavin: I studied software development in college. I completed a BSc in Software Development at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) in 2008. At that point it wasn’t web-based; it was all about C programming, so a small bit of Javascript came in at the end. 

A lot has changed since then, even the college – GMIT is now the Atlantic Technological University. 

Gavin Hughes stands against a dark blue background.

Alison: How did you end up working with Annertech? 

Gavin: I joined at the end of February 2013. I had worked with Drupal for about a year before I started working for Annertech. 

Prior to that I worked for Volex. They make power cords and cables, and they had a couple of websites. That was my first job out of college. 

Then I started working as an independent contractor, maintaining Joomla! and Wordpress sites. I ended up working with Drupal and started working on a project that almost evolved into a full-time job. But an opportunity came up at Annertech and I took it. 

I can’t believe that was in 2013. That’s 11 years ago. When I first started working with Annertech we could all fit in one car with a bit of a squeeze. Now you’d need a bus!

Alison: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where do you live? 

Gavin: I live in a little town called Newport in County Mayo. I’ve always kind of lived in Mayo. I was born in Castlebar Hospital, which is about 10 miles away from Newport. 

I lived in Kildare for two or three years and, prior to getting engaged, my now-wife Trish and I were planning to move back to Mayo. Just as Covid came, we moved into our current home. 

Mayo’s definitely home. With its abundance of beaches and trails it's an outdoor paradise when the sun shines! 

Alison: Is your wife also from Mayo? 

Gavin: Trish is from Donegal – Malin Head – as far north as you can go. We first met nearly 20 years ago. And nothing happened for 10 years, and then we started chatting, just before I joined Annertech, funnily enough. 

Alison: What are your interests outside of work? 

Gavin: As you’ve gathered by now I am married with a young child, Éilis, who is three going on 12. So that keeps me busy. 

But I like to keep active. I do a bit of running, and cycling. I was trying to do some swimming to get into triathlons but I’d need to get into the water more often. I used to kite surf a lot, but that’s all-consuming of your time. So I’ve had to give up on that.

Gavin Hughes is pictured with his wife Trish, who is holding daughter Éilis.

Éilis, Trish and Gavin Hughes enjoying the sun at Wild Ireland in Donegal in 2023.

Alison: What does a typical work day look like? 

Gavin: If my wife is working, then I’ll be on childcare duty. She is a psychiatric nurse, so she’s gone by 7am and she’s back home by 9pm. 

Some mornings can start very early. I will try to get things done when everyone's still asleep but it gets tricky to do it if you're up in the middle of the night with a little one. 

Work mornings typically start at about 9.30am, after dropping off my daughter at the childminder. I like to get straight into work. 

For a couple of years now I’ve been working as a support engineer with the Managed Services team, but for the last year or so I’ve been doing a lot more project-based work, so then I can get straight into work. But with the support work there is usually another call in the morning, and from then you’re given tasks to work on. Projects are usually lined up from the day before, so it’s easier to plan your day. 

Coffee is a much-needed drink. I have probably three or four cups a day. I’ll probably have my first caffeine hit at 10.30am or so. Then I might take the dog for a quick walk. If the weather is sunny. 

Alison: What kind of dog do you have? 

Gavin: She’s a Bichon crossed with a Shih Tzu. She’s a small, white poodle-type dog that has lots of hair but thankfully she doesn’t shed. Because she’s such a small dog 2km to 3 km a day is more than enough of a walk for her. She’s just a little lap dog who wants to sleep all day. But that’s not an option with a toddler running around! 

When I get back from the walk I’ll work till lunch time. I don't typically have breakfast, just coffee till 1pm then breakfast/lunch. Then it’s back to work. 

I stop drinking coffee around 3pm, depending on my caffeine requirements. This helps me sleep at night. I typically work till 5pm, but I like the flexibility that Annertech affords me, so I can pick up work later on or earlier in the morning. I can get work done at 6am or catch up later in the evening after 9pm. 

It’s nice, it allows me to spend more time doing family stuff that needs doing in the afternoon. It gets quite full on – dinner, play, get the little one to bed, rinse and repeat the following day… 

But I have to have structure. I like to go to bed at the same time. I find it takes ages to get my sleep pattern back. I try to be in bed for 10.30pm, but it never works out, it’s always 11pm. 

Alison: Is there anything that you really don’t enjoy about your job? 

Gavin: You can spend all your time working and be absorbed in your work and don't look up and see what’s going on around you. That can happen. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing though. 

I work with some great people. And everyone is very positive. I never feel like there's a structure where I can't talk to someone much higher up, like one of the directors, or I couldn’t reach out to the newest person in the door. That's a great thing. Do I do it too often? No, but I certainly feel like I can. 

Alison: Was there a favourite project that you worked on? Could you tell us a bit about it? 

Gavin: I’d have to think about it. Usually my favourite project is my current one. I do like working on Oxfam - they are really nice to work for. We’ve worked with them for more than a decade now. 

I worked on a site for certain campaigns, so for something that might have happened, like the earthquake in Haiti. I could see a difference was being made. I felt like I was helping out - even though I wasn't on the ground helping out I was still making a difference. It helped me sleep at night. 

– Support Engineer Gavin Hughes

Glanbia has been a very good project to work on. It has a lot of complexity - it’s a multilingual, multinational company and there is some ambitious stuff they want to do on the web. And that’s been fun. 

But there are a few projects that we inherited that had been neglected or in a bad state and we've had to try to figure things out and make small improvements. 

Alison: Have you ever had a challenge that you couldn’t figure out? 

Gavin: Yeh – there have been a few. There was an old site that had a very specific problem that only occurred on a specific day of the month. It had this performance issue and the site would just die. We did figure it out. Eventually. 

But there has been one we never figured out. It came from another agency, who built the site and set sail to it, and it just didn’t work with the software they were using. It seems to be to do with configuration. It’s annoying and sad, but we’ve just had to live with it. 

Alison: What do you love most about your job? 

Gavin: I always liked working with computers, even from my school days. I never didn’t work with computers. There was always something different and things were changing all the time. The other thing I like is the challenge of a problem, or if something is broken and needs fixing. 

That's how I ended up in support engineering. Although I don’t think engineering is the right term because if you look at traditional engineering – the structure of a house or a bridge – you can look at that house or bridge in 10 years time and go “well that bridge is well engineered”. 

You won't look back at software in 10 years time and say “well that is well built”. There’s always something new – that’s how I look at it. Although now that I've been in the game more than 10 years it’s starting to wear off a bit. There isn’t as much newness. 

The other thing I really like is we work on sites that can change people’s lives. We’ve worked on the websites of non-government organisations like Oxfam or Trócaire. Those are big names in Ireland. 

Oxfam's new responsive website.

Oxfam Ireland’s website often highlights campaigns, such as the hunger crisis in East Africa.

I worked on a site for certain campaigns, so for something that might have happened, like the earthquake in Haiti. I could see a difference was being made. I felt like I was helping out - even though I wasn't on the ground helping out I was still making a difference. It helped me sleep at night. And sometimes it kept me awake too.

I’ve worked on lots of interesting projects over the years. But the best thing about my job is that I have not missed a beat of my daughter growing up. Working from home you get to see all the first times - when she speaks, walks, talks… 

Although I missed her rolling over. She had gone to her grandparents in Donegal. But I did get a video.

Would you like a team like ours working on your website?

Whether you need a new website or management of an existing website, Annertech has you covered.

Profile picture for user Alison Visser

Alison Visser Head of Content

After more than two decades in journalism, Alison now collaborates with Annertech's clients to ensure that their content is the best it possibly can be.