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Movers and shakers: Pete Yates, Rabindra Das and Christian Hayward

Movers and shakers: Pete Yates, Rabindra Das and Christian Hayward

Plus: OMGTech! welcomes $40 million in new tech education funding, MYOB helps students turn theory into practice

Pete Yates is moving to HealthLink next month as chief technology officer. Yates was previously head PMO, Operations, IT & Platforms at Spark Platforms at Spark Ventures, technology services group manager/CIO at Foster Moore, IS infrastructure manager at Auckland Council and Global Head of the Customer Ops Centre for a managed services provider based in the UK.

He is an advisory board member of Massey University’s eCentre and is a regular contributor to CIO NZ as well as his own blog livingthetech.com

Rabindra Das is now the head of information technology at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. 

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology is the largest tertiary education provider in the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato regions, and the third largest institute of technology in New Zealand. It was formed from the merger of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic (where DAS was IT manager) in Tauranga, and Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua.

Christian Hayward of Unitec, a self-confessed computer-mechanic since his early teens, always expected a future working in computing.

First though, his keen interest in human behaviour won favour as he took up a social sciences degree at Waikato University.

He remembers it as a “tough decision” choosing between IT and sociology in what he considered a binary split. “I thought I probably will have a lot of IT experience throughout my life. I might not get another chance to dedicate this time to understanding how people tick.”

Today, the 26-year old is on the cusp of graduating from Unitec with a Bachelor of Computer Science, writing software design applications for a mental health mobile app and holding down a full-time paid IBM internship where he works with Watson - IBM’s artificial intelligence platform.

Some of his projects include ‘training’ Watson, building chatbot proofs of concept and running analytics on Twitter traffic to track commentary on social issues.

After graduating from Waikato University, Hayward returned his focus to computing but soon discovered he was a little naïve about the workforce. “I didn’t really know a lot about the IT field. I thought it was mainly fixing computers. It turns out there is a lot more - networks, programming, architecture and solution design, change management, heaps of different focus areas. That’s where most of the jobs are.”

A chance encounter led Hayward to Unitec. He enrolled in a graduate diploma in computing adding on some introductory courses. At the same time, he began a helpdesk role at Concentrix on the Mt Albert Campus.

A decisive moment came that summer when Hayward travelled to China with a group of 10 Unitec students as part of a fully-funded Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia. There, he visited hi-tech companies and attended Chongqing University of Technology as well as Wuhan University.

Beyond the “cool experience” of new friends and ‘League of Legends’ computer game banter, Hayward says he felt the threads of social science and IT connecting and overlapping. He studied cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cognitive computing.

Back in New Zealand, he started a part-time six-month student internship with IBM organised by Prof Hossein Sarrafzadeh, who was Unitec’s head of computing at the time.

“It was an experience in a more corporate environment – working on and testing infrastructure-based, platform-as-a-service, cloud projects — so carrying on the themes I was introduced to in China.”

He won IBM’s coveted annual Business and Tech Consulting internship, which is open to students from all New Zealand institutions. “Full-time study and full-time work is a balancing act, but the opportunity was too good to turn down,” says Hayward, who will be graduating this spring. The internship will run till January 2018.

“IBM is working closely with Unitec and Tech Futures Lab to help students and workers acquire the knowledge and practical skills to engage with new and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence,” says Chandan Ohri, head of AI at IBM New Zealand.

“Partnering with the education sector is critical in enabling New Zealanders to perform the new kinds of work and jobs that will emerge in a cognitive economy.”

Hon Nikki Kaye
Hon Nikki Kaye

OMGTech! welcomes $40 million in new tech education funding announced by Minister of Education Nikki Kaye

We are looking forward to supporting teachers on their tech journey, says OMGTech! co-founder Zoe Timbrell, on the funding which will be spread over three years.

Zoe Timbrell
Zoe Timbrell

The funding will mean compulsory Digital Technologies from Years 1 to 10 by 2020 and new NCEA credits developed for Years 11 to 13.

“OMGTech! wants to help enable our tamariki to be creators with technologies not just consumers of technology,” says Timbrell.

“Understanding how this works will be a fundamental requirement to participation in society in the future as a lot of our democratic processes get digitised,” says Timbrell. “It's important to become a digital citizen not just from a job creation point of view. Our kids will be using technology to shape their world in the future.”

OMGTech! Co-founder Vaughan Rowsell says, “New Zealand’s opportunity over the next 10 years is to position itself as an innovation nation. The world is rapidly becoming a different place driven by technology and if we want to be seen as a world leader, then this starts with ensuring every child in New Zealand gets a world class digital technologies education”.

It is absolutely essential that we deeply embed digital technologies at every level of education

OMGTech! Co-founder Vaughan Rowsell

Vaughan, who is also the founder of Vend and vice chair of New Zealand High Tech Trust, says parents and whānau should embrace this change to the curriculum. “Some parents may be concerned about the change but we encourage them to think about the future of work.”

The World Economic Forum report predicts 65 per cent of jobs our primary-aged kids will have as adults, do not exist today. It is absolutely essential that we deeply embed digital technologies at every level of education, he states.

Rowsell says digital Inclusion is a real focus of OMGTech! “For this to be a successful change, we need to ensure all our kids have equity of access and our teachers have the right support to help deliver that," he states.

“This will be more challenging in some communities but we have already seen some great work in some of our underserved communities including Manaiakalani, and OMGTech!’s pilot with the Otara Principals Cluster.”

SAM for Compliance, a New Zealand developed security assessment and compliance system has received a favourable case study review by the Albany, New York-based Center for Internet Security (CIS).

Tony Krzyzewski, co-founder and director of SAM for Compliance says the cloud-based service assists organisations to self-assess and manage compliance to meet the CIS Controls and other security standards.

“Unlike purely technical solutions, SAM’s self-assessment is designed to help improve the technical, process and governance factors necessary for a successful implementation of the CIS Controls,” says Krzyzewski.

“Each CIS Control requirement in the system has associated notes, actions, and tasks so that improvements can be managed and tracked. An exception marker and associated register is also implemented within the system. The system incorporates online workbooks covering all of the requirements within CIS Controls, with an assessment against each requirement being performed on a graded scale as to how well the organisation is implementing the Control requirements.”

Four Victoria University students plan to make life easier for business owners with a digital assistant that helps with the day-to-day tasks of running their operations.

The idea formed part of the winning entry for the national MYOB IT Challenge. Victoria University’s team comprised engineering and commerce students Liam Dennis, Nanda Hibatullah, Adiraj Gupta and Mona Ruan.

Their idea is to develop an application that allows users of cloud-based accounting software to interact with a virtual assistant. Through voice controls, users can ask questions while the application – Mind Me – provides a suggested course of action to deal with the business challenge. For example, following up on a request for a quote can be seamlessly done by talking to a chatbot.

MYOB New Zealand general manager Carolyn Luey says the MYOB IT Challenge is helping students turn theory into practice.

“Business is all about people working together to innovate and create great solutions for customers. The MYOB IT Challenge offers students the opportunity to experience exactly that – to collaborate in a team and create a solution to address a real business issue.”

The competition is run in conjunction with the University of Auckland’s Management Consulting Club.

The Board of Directors of Stride Investment Management Limited (SIML) has announced the appointment of Philip Littlewood as CEO and Philip Ling to the board of directors of SIML and Stride Property Limited (Stride).

Philip Littlewood
Philip Littlewood

SIML chairman Tim Storey says Littlewood’s appointment represents a promotion from his position as general manager investment. For the past six months, Littlewood was joint-acting CEO, alongside group CFO Jennifer Whooley.

Intergen has been named a finalist in the 2017 Microsoft Public Safety and National Security Year Award for New Zealand, together with its partner, NV Interactive.

The company was honoured among a global field of Microsoft partners for demonstrating excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology.

The awards were presented in several categories at the Microsoft Inspire Partner Conference held in Washington DC, with winners chosen from a set of more than 2,800 entrants from 115 countries worldwide.

The entry was for Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Mobile Response App (MRA), a cross-platform mobile application which provides a user-centred mobility tool ”designed by firefighters for firefighters”.

HydroWorks, a Christchurch based hydro engineering company, has successfully commissioned five mini-hydro energy recovery systems (“Climate Defenders”) for the Melbourne Water Department.  

The plants are located within Melbourne Water’s existing urban water supply network and have been designed to recover the excess energy present in the flowing water, convert it to electricity and export it into the Melbourne electricity network. The excess energy is a by-product of the height differences between Melbourne’s main water storage reservoirs and Melbourne’s inner suburb reservoirs and was “wasted” to the environment. HydroWorks plants trap and use that energy and give it back to the community.

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Tags CIO100innovationIBMWatsonIT managerChandan OhriStartupanalyticsRabindra DasPete YatesMYOBAIUnitecSpark Digital

More about Auckland CouncilBay of Plenty PolytechnicConcentrixDASFacebookIBMIBM New ZealandInspireInteractiveIntergenMassey UniversityMicrosoftMYOBSparkTechnologyTwitterVictoria University

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