Me with a yellow lanyard and a black blazer

Mentoring in the digital era

May 01, 2018

Originally published in CIO Magazine

Vivian Chandra, the chief digital officer at OMGTech!, notes by 2030, all year one students will begin entering into a workforce that will look entirely different from the one we know today.

“Thirty-eight per cent of the jobs that currently exist will be gone, and students will have to reinvent themselves five or more times—picking up new skills—to stay competitive,” says Chandra.

“The one constant we know is that all of these future jobs will have digital technologies as an essential component.

“To equip our children for this world we must get them confident with exploring new technologies and develop a sense of curiosity and positivity about technologies.”

She says this is why OMGTech exists, to give all Kiwi children access to technologies that will share their future.

She says some OMG programmes are also aimed at young children, aged eight to 12 years old.

“They don’t have preconceived notions about what technology is. They find it fun, exciting and they play with cool stuff.”

“As people who work in the tech industry, we don’t know 100 per cent what that technology looks like right now, we hope it involves mind control and hoverboards but who knows,” she says.

“But, by being comfortable with the latest technologies today, our tamariki will be well equipped to pick up the new stuff when it comes or when they invent it.”

While we want to be here for all kids, the reality is that whole sections of our society have traditionally missed out, she says.

“OMGTech! works in the high deprivation areas or lower socio-economic areas and we also focus our attention on kids that identify as girls or non-binary,” she explains.

“We work hard in impoverished areas, and we try to get funding and staff volunteers so we can work in these areas.”

“We have hundreds of people who all work in the tech industry, and not only are they experts in a wide range of technology, by their very nature, they are inspirational role models, infusing a love of technology in kids who may never have had any exposure to it in the past,” she says.

She says more than four and a half thousand children have attended their programmes, and over half of these children are girls.

One of OMG’s latest programmes is the Mana Tangata, where 30 students aged 14 to 18 from underserved communities around New Zealand are paired with an industry mentor.

“Our work focuses on inclusion,” she explains. “We work with students who have been excluded because of ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Some of these kids have not left their towns,” she says, and hearing someone from a company like Microsoft, for instance, talk about a technology conference overseas, “opens up new ideas, a new world for them.”