Candace Kinser, CEO of NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech), chats with ComputerWorld NZ on the important issues facing the country's ICT sector and how the association is working with both the government and the industry to enable faster, stronger growth in the future.
Q: How do you perceive NZTech's evolution in the last few years?
Candace Kinser: NZTech was started five years ago. The original purpose of the association was for the multi nationals to have a unified voice to the government. There was a real area of interest from the government at the time to deal across some of its largest suppliers. That got the association up and going.
Just about two and a half years ago when I was asked to join as CEO, one of the things that I wanted to do was to broaden the ecosystem and look at bringing in the entire representation of ICT. So not just the large multinationals but the high-growth startups, which is what I had just come out of.
I wanted to try to bring in more universities and polytechnics to get their inputs, as well as government agencies, such as NZTE and Grow Wellington — who have joined. I wanted the association to focus on everybody — from the individual right up to the multi-national and everything in between. That was kind of my first step.
The second area that I wanted to focus on was to look for the pockets where we need to pay particular attention to — the soft spots or Achilles heels. And one of those was the women tech executive scheme that we started. It wasn't just a reinvention of the old Women in Technology group, but more exactly to look into how we could provide encouragement and support for career development to women who have made it to a senior management role.
What's next for them? You have gone through 10 to 15 years of career moves, you are at this level, NZ is a fairly small place, so how can we make each other aware of more opportunities and also give them encouragement to stay with the game?
It's also looking at bringing up young women, getting them interested in technology and poaching from other industries. Getting highly talented women from banking or insurance into technology, who have the right skill sets to be in management roles in technology. That's been going on for a year and a half.
The other area that I wanted to focus on as part of the soft-spots was the education sector. We have gathered up polytechnics and universities in the Auckland area — to begin with. We have got Unitec, University of Auckland, and Massey University on the shore. We have looked at what the current degree programs are, and co-related it with what is in demand in the industry. What does the industry not like in students coming out now, and what more do they want them to do? We are trying to re-tailor these aspects into education. We are also looking at business students and trying to address aspects of technology training they need and that it is incorporated well.
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