Over the last few weeks on what seems like hundreds of conference calls I’ve had heard plenty of stories of the challenges of jungling work and family life, especially with little kids running around. Having recently having become a father myself, it has made me think about the challenges that the next generations will have and how technology will solve those problems. But the pressing question has been how us, as parents and ‘oldies’, inspire the younger generations into using technology to improve our health, planet and other pressing issues.
As every year that goes by, we all gain a little bit more life experience, a little more maturity (not all of us according to my wife), lots more gadgets and for me, a step closer to goals and the creation of new ones. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, speaking and interviewing colleagues and other techies in my field I’ve realised we all take huge pleasure in seeing new technology innovations, whether that be a product, a service or whatever. Weirdly though, I’ve noticed the first thing I always do is to find out about its founder, the innovator, the OG (yeah I’m young enough to know what that abbrev means).
OG used to mean Original Gangster although some people these days use OG as a quicker way of saying OriginalUrban dictionary (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=OG)
I’m always intrigued to find out who came up with the idea, and the back story to how it came from an idea into fruition and the background of the person themselves. What inspired them to make technology their forté, why is technology their passion.
It’s easy to look at the obvious big hitters over the last 5-10 years, the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world (Yes, he’s still only 35 years old!) or Bobby Murphy (Snapchat, now aged 31) but those names are all over the media, and this article isn’t about spitting out the names of the next big thing.
What is common in all of these entrepreneurs is their drive, their determination and their persistence to ensure that their product reaches the top. At a time when the media does nothing but slate the millenials or generation x’s of the world for being lazy or spoilt (https://nypost.com/2019/03/12/why-lazy-entitled-millennials-cant-last-90-days-at-work/) I honestly don’t see it. Aside from these multi-millionnaire tech gods, there are plenty young, hungry and enthusiastic men and women who are wanting to make their mark, maybe not in the same lasting way, but they want a career – they just go about it a different way.
If I look back 15 years at when I wanted to forge a career for myself in IT, there were much fewer opportunities. You’d go to uni, try and get onto the very few graduate opportunities and eventually settle for a first line support job answering a telephone and resetting passwords. Nowadays, certainly in IT, I think the university degree is less relevant, people look for experince or industry-specific qualifications. There are more varying options to get into ‘IT’, whether that be traditional support, coding and development, information security, the list goes on.
Of course, there are people who expect opportunities and promotions to come their way with little to no effort, those wasting their days away on social media or the latest mobile game fad but on the whole, my experience is that the drive to better yourself is no different than I had (and still do) 15 years later.
But back to my original question, how do we inspire the next generation to use technology to improve our lives. I think the challenges of the next generation will be very different to even those that my generation faces. A lot of the focus nowadays rightly seems to be using technology to improve our health, (Peleton are a great example of this), to save the planet (Tesla, debates aside) or solving the medical crises of the time (see Google DeepMind), this is a stark contrast from 10 years ago when the excitement was around high definition television, touchscreen tablets and Microsoft Kinect.
For me though, it wasn’t just the new shiny tech, it was the people I worked with. Back in the early days of the NHS, when I was that first-line support guy answering the phones and resetting passwords, I had the pleasure of working with two wonderful women, a systems engineer called Liz Buckingham and Kathy Pillinger, a network engineer. They both, despite being incredibly busy was happy to spend the time to show me Exchange 5.5, Active Directory Group Policies and basic networking diagnostics – it made such a difference to me and despite me not being in regular communication with either of them, I’ve never forgotten their names! Nowadays, I work with equally wonderful people, for totally different reasons, but those people are those that inspire the next generation of techies.
When I look around at my colleagues at Stagecoach, I can see junior colleagues looking up to more senior staff, and its honestly nice to see how their enthusiasm shows in their output. Their excitement when a problem is solved or a project goes live. I just hope that those people keep championing technology, not just at home, but to their kids so we keep seeing technology at the forefront of everything that is good in the world.