Looking to the future, what do you see as being the next big thing in tech?
Technology is growing so fast that people are becoming overwhelmed by it. Remember when a pencil was the right device? Now you have at least 10 devices that can do so many things – it is overwhelming. So I think the next big thing in tech is linking the human with the right device and technology for their life, job, career, or future.
We have so many choices and some people spend hours with the next gadget or technology whereas the older one was just fine. I am a fan of innovation but I think we have gone so fast that people are struggling to keep up or they are so focused on how to manage the new tech – they are losing on the human interactions that make us better than machines. So I think there will be a future where the tech and the human are matched for the betterment of the person and their human interactions.
If you could give one piece of advice to an emerging business/startup, what would it be?
Challenge the norm, be ambitious and execute, execute, execute. As an American, I see the cautiousness of the local startups and hear at many conferences that the mantra of the Scottish unicorns has been to think BIGGER, BOLDER and be AMBITIOUS. The Scots have an amazing culture of innovation, hard work ethics and diversity – but seem to have a soft, quiet way about launching their ideas and business models. So my one piece of advice is to THINK BIG and tell everyone. Failure is on the road to success.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Watching people get excited about a new career in technology. When a person comes into CodeClan they are full of doubts and intentions, they want to have a new start in a fast paced, overwhelming industry that has diverse opportunities. There is a point in the learning process where the person realises that they can do this, they are learning and gaining insight that an employer will pay for – it is that moment I love to see – when confidence in the future sets in and they start to dream real dreams.
What’s your role and what does a typical day involve?
I am the CEO of CodeClan, Scotland’s digital skill academy with campuses in Edinburgh and Glasgow. A typical day is managing the barriers to make the learning environment healthy for the students and staff. But above the day to day issues, the most important thing I try to do is to encourage people to be the person they want to be.
If you were speaking to a classroom full of 3rd year high school students how would you pitch the industry as the best place to be?
I would start with the statement, you should go into a industry that you have 1) interest and 2) experience in – at 16-years-old my guess is the interests they have are: sports, drama (daily), eating, sleeping and tech. Now we know that sports and drama are viable professions but very hard to get into for the long term. Eating – lots of opportunity in restaurants, but that is the making of the food not eating it. Sleep – hotels have beds but tech is in their every day lives and they know so much more than they think they do.
The technology industry incorporates so many professions today – it is the basis for success. In my day, taking typing class in high school was seen as a ‘get a job’ class versus ‘have a career’ class. Now if you can’t type you can’t have a career. Technology is ever growing and the industry to be in long term. But with that pace and ever changing environment it’s hard to know where to start. There are four key areas: Sales, Programming, Marketing and Finance/Accounting – these areas use tech, support tech, create tech and or sell tech.