Speakers included Jenene Freer from the NZ Girl website, Craig Meek from Futuretech, Orcon founder Seeby Woodhouse, and local programmer Simon Riley.
Woodhouse, former Young Entrepreneur of the Year, is well known in IT and business circles after selling Orcon for $25million in 2007 and setting up Green Carbon, a carbon trading business. He shared some of his insights and tips with the students, saying, “Passion succeeds over logic – be honest to yourself, focus on what you enjoy, and success will follow.”
This was backed up by several of the other speakers, who told students that success was all about having the right attitude. As Freer said, “I was never one of the top students at school, but if you have a positive attitude and lots of energy and determination, you can make things happen.”
This is the first ‘IT Me’ conference held by the University, aimed at enabling students to discover the diversity of careers available in the IT sector. It is well known that ICT has been earmarked as a growth area, featuring on NZ Immigration’s skills shortage list. The Department of Labour estimates that between 2005 and 2010 the number of IT professionals grew by about 25%, with more than 7,200 new employees entering the industry. Several economists predict that number needs to almost double by 2017.
Craig Meek spoke personally about the lack of IT graduates in New Zealand. Of his eight strong development team, only one is a New Zealander. “There just aren’t enough programmers here in New Zealand,” he said. “I had to recruit from Russia, the Philippines, and elsewhere.
“For young people, this is a very exciting time to enter the industry. Graduates are in hot demand, you’ll be surprised at how much you can earn, and the opportunities are enormous.”
Students are able to get a head start in the IT industry through AUT’s industry-driven Bachelor of Computer & Information Sciences (BCIS), which is taught on the Manukau and City campuses.
After the success of this year’s event, AUT hopes to run the conference on an annual basis.