When asked what I do for a living, I always answer, “I’m in IT” and I find it is quite the conversation stopper. Perhaps the person upon hearing my answer is picturing me hunched over a smoking keyboard furiously coding in some odd-ball language, and is afraid to push any further. In reality, I am in education and this just happens to be in an IT company. And education plays a key role.
If you are part of the SYSPRO Community, you will be aware of the educational material we offer and how easily you can access it. We go beyond the standard step-by-step guides and provide among other things, conceptual videos which give an analogy of terms or features within SYSPRO. These are all also accessible to those outside the SYSPRO community.
Over and above the educational material we offer, SYSPRO partners with Women in IT, a bursary and mentorship programme that helps to grow and develop women within our industry and create formal and informal networks between female IT students, tertiary institutions, South African IT professionals and corporates.
I do however ponder the significance of having female specific offerings. Why focus on women? Why do women need special attention? These ponderings come about from my upbringing where I was encouraged to do more and achieve more. I did what men and women were both doing, university was a given. Everything was accessible to me. Sadly that is not the case for many women worldwide where expectations for women do not go beyond getting married and having babies. While this may be an ideal future for many, I’m exceedingly grateful that I have had the luxury of choice.
That is why I follow initiatives like Join My Village which supports and features organizations that work in highly impoverished communities. It aims to expand access to education for girls and to provide training programs that improve livelihoods and enrich the broader community. Using the power of social media, Join My Village posts field updates and photos following the progress of individual girls, women and families to better understand the issues and solutions on the ground. When you read their stories it is not only uplifting but inspiring too.
So from demystifying SYSPRO programs to providing bursaries and using social media, we are growing and developing our communities and beyond. Perhaps from now on when people ask what I do for a living my answer should be “I’m educating and empowering people in IT” which may take the conversation in a whole new direction.