Pen and Paper

Should we all go back to pen and paper?

You will be surprised to hear that I was playing golf at the weekend. As always over the duration of a round, we discussed all manner of things.

On Sunday, one of my playing partners brought up cyber security and how insecure he felt about his personal information and bank details.

He suggested going back to pen and paper and taking all his banking offline, because it's more secure.

We all agreed that this was a silly idea but in truth its not that silly unless we personally get very serious about our online security and staying up to date and ahead of the game.

In relation to our cyber security, we are all feeling insecure at the moment. But I'd like you to think about a time in your lives when you felt most secure. Go ahead and close your eyes for a moment.

Where are you? Are you a child? Are you with a parent or a trusted friend?

Remember how it felt to feel safe and content at that moment in time.

For me it was growing up in Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. It’s also, by the way, the area National Geographic recently named as "the coolest place on the planet” (I'm so proud of Donegal - You must visit!!)

For me this was a great time, it was a safe time and it was a time when I felt secure.

And now - like when I remember seeing a storm roll in from the Atlantic Ocean back in my childhood home - we live in a time that can feel a lot less secure, don't we?

Consider the U.S. Elections and the alleged meddling by Russia and the hackers reportedly breaking into computer networks of companies operating the United States nuclear power stations, energy facilities and manufacturing plants, according to a new report by The New York Times.

It’s not just companies and organizations that are vulnerable - every person, place and every online device in the world is potentially vulnerable.

I don’t know about you, but back in the 90’s, whenever I used to hear about hackers and viruses, I tuned out.

But now, in the news, it seems we are hearing this happening on a daily basis - we're getting bombarded about the cyber-crime reality that we live in. It can make you feel anything other than secure.

An article in Chief Security Officer Magazine, predicted that damages from cyber-crime will cost the world six trillion dollars a year. The threat of cyber-crime will more than triple the number of unfilled cyber security jobs, which is predicted to reach 3.5 million by 2021.

So that's exactly why we need to become more dedicated to getting not just IT workers, but every worker, involved with protecting and defending apps, data, devices, infrastructure and people.

Cyber-crime is a very real and very scary threat, but I also see this as an opportunity if we embrace it -  to help us all feel more secure, to be committed in helping everyone with their cyber responsibilities - to become good cyber citizens and have superior processes in place before a cyber breach is threatened.

We are all imperfectly human and hackers are very skillful at tracking human beings, not computers, and taking advantage of our vulnerability, our weaknesses.

Human error is still the most likely reason for a hack.

Going back to pen and paper is definitely not an option but becoming more aware of our cyber responsibilities is.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

Lessons I learned from my first job!

I love this time of the year and one of the things that I really like about it is coming across so many young people who are clearly working in their very first summer jobs.

I love their youth, their energy and their enthusiasm (hopefully!) and I wonder about the valuable part that this first job will play in their professional lives.

It makes me reflect on my first job, many moons ago.

Growing up in the north west of Ireland had many advantages, especially during the summer months. We had long days, with lots of tourists milling about and as I remember through my rose tinted glasses, the sun was always shining in Donegal!

Although we always had a lot of fun, we were no strangers to hard work either. That work ethic gave me a real respect for the value of earning a wage.

My parents returned to Ireland from London in the late fifties and opened a small corner shop at the bottom of the main street in a small village called Glenties (this name is derived from the word 'The Glens' as it is situated where two glens meet, west of the Bluestack Mountains).

Initially the store sold basic supplies, the necessities, like bread, milk, butter and newspapers.

If you consider their typical customer at that time, it was quite an ambitious plan. Glenties was a very rural town (a population of under 1,000 ) where most of the community baked their own bread, grew their own vegetables and used their cows for milk and butter. People were very self-sufficient.

However, the family business grew and thrived.


Both my parents were very innovative and committed to providing excellent customer service. They introduced new product lines, like frozen foods, or what was considered rare fruits back then, such as pears and tangerines. They built a reputation for having really great ice cream and the business grew and from the initial small room to other parts of the house.

During those exciting years with the business growing, my brothers and I chipped in and helped in the shop, after school and in the evening, at weekends and during holiday times.

Being part of the family meant sharing the work load.

This is where we really learned the valuable lesson of working to earn pocket money. We weren’t just given money, we had to earn it. If we spent all our money and wanted to go to the cinema or if we wanted to buy the new Thin Lizzy album and didn’t have any money left, my dad found a job for us in the shop. And there were many of those jobs to choose from!

Back then, eggs came in a large box and had to be packed into smaller, dozen and half dozen cartons. Potatoes came in four and eight stone bags and needed to be packed into smaller size bags.

None of us liked filling out the potatoes. The fear of that foul-smelling potato hidden somewhere in the sack and the horrible sensation when your fingers slid inside that rotten potato...yeuch!

And then there were the customers - as we know only too well these can come in all sorts and sizes and like each of us they all have their own quirks and strange habits.

Each of us served behind the counter and we all had the responsibility of looking after the customers - in a small village we were dependant on a small number of people and it was up to us to make sure that they were happy and kept returning.

While it was tough and every one of us was expected to do their part to look after the family business, these were special, simple days that will warmly stay with me forever.

Learning the value of hard work and the importance of customer service are valuable lessons that have stood to me throughout my career - these apply in my parents little grocery store just the same as they do in a global organisation such as CompTIA.

Thank you mum and dad!

What did you learn from your first job?

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

Life Changer

7th March - Life before and after

On my way home from work I drive by our local cancer hospital. From the outside, it is just a normal building and there doesn’t seem to be much going on inside.

That is, until March 7th.

This time I was inside that very hospital looking out at all the cars driving by, who like me a few days earlier, were oblivious to the battles, challenges, illness and sadness that engulf those inside.

It is almost full to capacity every day with each treatment cubicle, sadly occupied. The nurses and doctors inside that hospital do an amazing job looking after those patients with their expertise, care and professionalism.

My wife Fiona had been feeling unwell for a few weeks. The first diagnosis we had was that she had an infection, but after several weeks the bleeding wouldn’t stop and she was scheduled for a biopsy. We both knew that it was something serious and could possibly be cancer.

I had a business trip planned to the Middle East and my departure date was the day before the biopsy. Both Fiona and I agreed that the trip should go ahead. I landed in Abu Dhabi and Fiona called me to tell me the news. The biopsy results confirmed our worse fears, it was cervical cancer.

I felt so regretful that she had to take that call alone, the fear she must have felt hearing those words and the horrible uncertainty of what was to come.

I returned to Chicago in time to accompany her to the various scans that had been scheduled.

Three days later we had our meeting with the Oncologist to get a better understanding of the course of treatment for cervical cancer.

That’s when we had an even bigger blow hit us.

Fiona and Josie

It turns out that Fiona has Small Cell Cervical Cancer with five secondary tumors around her body. Her liver, lungs and lymph nodes were all infected. Small Cell is the rarest type of cervical cancer and it accounts for less than 1% of all cervical cancers diagnosed.  We were told that we had a battle ahead.

Thankfully, we had caught the cancer in its early stages but the diagnosis was still devastating to us.

Without treatment, Fiona would have 6 months to live and probably 18 months with treatment. We were shocked and overwhelmed that this could happen to someone so young and fit. Prior to the illness Fiona was running 7-minutemiles and squatting with 60lb dumbbells. She was forty-three years of age when we got the diagnosis. She is also such a positive and optimistic person, living life as it should, with a warm smile on her face.

The doctor commented that nothing we could have done would have prevented this from happening. It’s just like being struck by lightning.

Like most challenges life throws at you, it’s how you react and behave that makes the difference. We have learned a lot about each other and how vital it is to make the most of every day.

Fiona has completed three cycles of chemo and had a further assessment and scans. The results were very promising and positive with the tumors shrinking in size and activity. Her attitude and fitness levels certainly contributed to the positive results. Needless to say we were thrilled.

We may have won a battle; however, the war is not yet won.

She is on her fifth cycle of chemotherapy with further scans after the sixth cycle. Even at the best-case scenario, she will have to complete another three cycles. Never at any point throughout this ordeal has she ever felt any illness from the cancer but it’s the many cycles of chemo that have hit her the hardest, taking its toll both mentally and physically.

One of the many lessons we have learned from this experience is to be more aware of the feelings and emotions of others. It has taught us to be more tolerant as you just never know what's happening in someone’s life.

More importantly, when life gives you lemons, you most definitely should make lemonade.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

McGlinchey Family Crest

Your Personal Brand and your Coat of Arms

There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of your 'personal brand'; how you always need to be aware of it, how you should project it and how you should protect it.

It is talked about in marketing circles as if it is a new thing and that it is borrowed from the world of products and companies, which all have their own branding that we can easily relate to.

The comparison to products, services and companies can be a little disturbing at first - surely we are human beings and not products (many may disagree!)? After all we have feelings, thoughts, opinions, beliefs, passions, we want to be appreciated and valued and we definitely don't want to be treated as commodities.

If we forget about the comparison to products and companies it gets easier and we can start to appreciate what our personal brand really means. Our personal brand is our story, it is what we represent, it is what we believe in, it is what motivates us, it is who we are.

If you deal with me this is what you get.

The challenge is to properly project our story so that others get what we are all about.

In ancient times the personal brand for our family was captured in our family crest or our coat of arms.

A coat of arms is described as a unique heraldic (a visual way of signifying rank) design on a shield or surcoat. A surcoat, and subsequently a coat of arms was used by medieval knights to cover, protect, and identify the wearer. The coat of arms symbolises the heraldic achievement which consists of a shield with a crest and motto.

These coats of arms came into general use by feudal lords and knights in battle in the 12th Century. By the 13th Century their use had spread beyond the battlefield to become a kind of flag or logo for families in the higher social classes of Europe, inherited from one generation to the next.

Your coat of arms or crest was effectively a way of telling a story about your family and what they represent.

McGlinchey Family Crest

Each of the colours and symbols on your Coat of Arms is significant and they explain important characteristics and values about you and your family.

In the case of my family coat of arms:

  • the white or silver background denotes Peace and Sincerity.
  • the green signifies Hope, Joy and sometimes Loyalty in Love.
  • and finally the lion represents Deathless Courage!

So for those that know me well - do I match up to my family crest?

While my Coat of Arms captures and projects a 'story' and a set of values and beliefs for my family in many ways it also sets a standard and creates an expectation about our behaviour - something that we all need to live up to.

Ironically the use of the coat of arms evolved over time and started to be used by commercial companies, which are effectively the origins of the modern logo.

Telling your story today

Today we don't carry around a shield (just a business card..) and we don't wear a suit of armour so communicating our story can be a little bit more challenging.

The face to face personal experience has always been the most important part of our story. How we look, how we dress, how we speak, how we behave and what we do are powerful ways of telling this story. Those who interact with us get to experience our 'personal brand' up close and hopefully they will carry with them a positive version of our story.

For those at a distance our modern day coat of arms is our blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. This is where we get a chance to show our photo, detail who we are, what we have learnt, what we have done, what we believe in and then bring all of this to life through our regular conversations and interactions.

On LinkedIn the most common activity of users of the platform is looking at other people's profiles. I wonder why..

How is your coat of arms looking? 

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA



Jon Berkeley - illustrator

My son may never learn to drive

Jon Berkeley - illustrator

I was in a meeting recently and as we were chatting before the meeting formally started, one of my colleagues made the comment that her son will probably never learn to drive. He is five.

As much as I am connected to the technical revolution, I had never given any thought to that notion. Most of Generation Z will never learn to drive or if they can, they won’t have to, because of autonomous cars.

I did some research and came across this great post by Michael Kauffman, How Big Data Knows My Son Will Never Learn To Drive

Some are saying that it will be 2040’s before we see widespread adoption but considering Apple, Google, Uber are all exploring the technology of autonomous cars, the realization is that it will be sooner that we expect. As Bill Gates once said, We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next 2 years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.

Kauffman goes on to say that the benefits for autonomous cars are so compelling, that all the major car manufacturers say they will offer autonomous cars by the 2020’s.

Consider also the safety aspect. Although some may shudder to think of the devastation that driver-less cars could impart upon us, there is evidence that it could be much safer - Autonomous cars are estimated to be 78% safer. This isn’t surprising when you consider that human error accounts for over 90% of road accidents. Indeed, autonomous cars may represent the single greatest improvement in automotive history.

There are very few drivers among us who have not experienced the stress of traffic jams, delays and stressful journeys to work or to a social event. Kauffman states that autonomous cars will greatly reduce traffic because they have such quick reflexes and could travel 8 times closer to each other on the freeway and still hit the brakes fast enough to stop safely when needed.  So even if rush hour traffic is 8 times heavier than full speed free flowing traffic, you could potentially be moving much closer to full speed.

Driving can also be a great waste of time but autonomous cars will allow you to work, rest or even watch a movie while you travel.

So, you have your iPad, iPhone and iWatch and your next big purchase could be your iCar. Reports suggest that Apple is developing an electric iCar to rival Tesla. 

In the same way that I think digital technology can never replicate the pure joy of placing your new LP on the turntable and touching the needle down and listening to that new album for the first time, there is nothing quite like putting your foot on the accelerator of a beautiful machine and heading for the highway!

It is quite possible that your son or daughter may never experience that wonderful feeling - I'm not quite sure how I feel about that!

Image used: The fantastic image I used at the top of this post is by talented Irish illustrator, Jon Berkeley who I believe is living now in Barcelona. Check out his website

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA

It’ll be life, Jim, but not as we know it!


A big thank you to Jane Dickinson, another one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

I just lost my scarf in Harrods, the London department store.

Well, actually it was a snood, which, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a circular piece of fabric that one wears around the neck.

It must have slipped off my arm, either accidentally or otherwise, and, in the absence of a call from the pleasant chap in Lost Property, is gone forever.

First world problem, right?

Right. So, why the lingering mild emotions of annoyance and loss?

The annoyance almost certainly stems from the fact that carelessness like this just doesn’t happen to me. With every year that passes, I become more ordered and organized. I know where my stuff is. If I didn’t, it would slow me down.

I suspect you’re the same?

Most of us identify time as being our most precious resource and have taken up the challenge to see just how much we can do, see and achieve. We lead full lives and productivity and efficiency are key, enhanced by the systems, technology and services we choose to adopt.

The loss?

It was a warm, attractive snood. Is it replaceable? Indirectly, probably. Was it expensive? No, and certainly not in comparison to Harrods’ wares. So why the long face? I put it down to 1970s values. You work and save hard for what you have and hence those – albeit material – items have a certain value to you.

These thoughts, about how we work hard for what we have, led me to recall the most interesting and disruptive lecture I’ve had the privilege of hearing this year.

The talk was by the economist Paul Mason, at the 2016 CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference.

Of the many thought provoking threads, the one that stood out related to how increasing automation will transform the way we live and work.

In itself, this topic is hardly groundbreaking. All of us, irrespective of age, can name new, transformative labor saving technologies or automations that have been impactful during our lifetimes.

However, Mason is not forseeing technological progress in a linear fashion, but on a scale that would see widespread automation of both blue and white collar jobs. He suggests that a third industrial revolution is nigh but may stall due to the fear of creating mass unemployment and the associated ‘psychological aimlessness’.

As I write, news hits that Japanese Insurance Company Fukoku Mutual is making 34 redundancies and replacing those staff members with IBM’s Watson.

An Oxford Martin School Study suggests that 47% of US jobs are at risk to automation by 2035.

The solution?

Mason and others assert that we should de-link work and wages. Everyone would be paid a universal basic income by the State and the average working day would be cut.

It was there that it hit me. As I imagine it must feel to a weathered workhorse on the precipice of retirement, NOT working, or certainly not anywhere near the extent we are used to in the early 21st century, seems really, really scary.

In that moment, I suddenly felt sympathy for the Luddites. It had been easy to malign them from the comfortable hindsight of my history class; King Canute-like as they attempted to stem the tide of industrial progress.

Contemplating change of this magnitude is mind blowing. How will we define ourselves? How will our values change? How messy could this transition be? And many, many other questions.

However, on reflection, perhaps we shouldn’t be afraid to take a leap into this unknown. Particularly if it transpires we have some ability to design it and one of the key outcomes will be more personal time.

As a wise ex-colleague used to say, we all need to take the time to stop and smell the flowers.

Mason outlines one potential future society. There are indisputably others. None of us have an infallible crystal ball, but societal change is as certain as taxes.

It’ll be life Jim, but not as we know it!

Oh, and if you come across a homeless, burgundy fake fur snood, please let me know…

Jane Dickinson, CompTIAJane Dickinson

Jane Dickinson is a Senior Manager in CompTIA’s Western European team. She works with schools, colleges and universities to help them offer internationally recognized IT industry certifications alongside their programs to enhance learner employability.

Fiona and Josie

Teamwork, the Great Wall and the love of a dog!

Fiona and Josie

This was my fourth Christmas living in the US and more remarkably, it was the first time in thirty years I haven’t returned to Ireland for Christmas. Having traveled a lot over 2016, I decided that I would spend it at home and enjoy the festive period, American style. This last week has given me time to reflect on what was an incredible year for me personally and for CompTIA.

As always, the year started out with a little anxiety over the challenges ahead, will we achieve our goals? How would our new A+ launch affect our business?

There were many hurdles ahead of us but we needn’t have worried. 2016 turned out to be one of the best years ever at CompTIA and probably one of my proudest career periods of time.

There have been many new initiatives launched in 2016, which will give us a tremendous platform for the future.

If I could rewind the clock and give myself some advice at the start of 2016, I would say, be comfortable being me, do the basics well, stay in the moment, remain focused on the bigger picture and our strategy. And most importantly...Always, always have fun and enjoy it!

The success I enjoy at CompTIA has everything to do with my team. They are an incredible bunch, the best Sales, Product Management and Sales Ops people in the certification and education business.

We get together as a full team twice a year, usually at our HQ just outside Chicago. This year we decided to mix it up a bit and took our summer meeting "international" to London. This gave us a great opportunity to get away as a (very large!) group, away from our normal environment and push ourselves beyond our comfort zones.

It was a tremendous success, giving us time to bond tighter as a team. As always we learned a lot from each other and came away with some great initiatives and strategies for the remainder of the year.

I travelled around the world twice in 2016 and enjoyed some very funny moments and some spectacular experiences. Our team cruise on the Thames, climbing the Great Wall, seeing The Acropolis in Athens, going to Tokyo Disneyland and visiting the Akshardham temple Ahmedabad were all places I was privileged to experience because of the fantastic role I have at CompTIA.

One of the nicest surprises in 2016 came while we were waiting to board a flight from Shanghai to Beijing. The fog had come down around the airport and all flights had either very long delays or were cancelled. After a busy week and a long day, it’s not the news you like to hear. However, all that changed when our flight was the only flight to leave the airport that evening and on time.

We believed this good fortune was because Dennis Kwok was on board. Dennis is our VP for APAC and spends most of his life in airports or on a plane and is well known across Asia. However, it transpired that there was a very high profile Chinese politician on the same flight and there was no chance his flight was going to be delayed. Nice to have friends in high places although we still like to think Dennis was the reason!

Having played golf for over 10 years, 2016 was the first time I actually won a golf tournament. My team won the “Fall Member” tournament at my club, Cress Creek and I was particularly proud as I had selected the players. Although some did not know each other, we connected as a group and come out on top over the two days.

My wife, Fiona, Josie (our dog) and I moved into our new home on Cress Creek golf course, which was one of the highlights of the year for sure. Although the views across the course change depending on the time of the year, it is never anything other than peaceful, calming and revitalizing.

Josie is our first dog and having never owned a dog before, I was a little apprehensive. We adopted her from a shelter just over a year ago and I can say that she has had a massive impact on our lives. She is the most relaxed, funny and calming dog. She has added so much to our lives and only asks for love in return.

2016..thank you and a big thank you to all of the readers of my blog.

John McGlinchey. CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA

My Christmas Wish for Jobseekers

Nicholas with his siblings, Julia and Cody
Nicholas with his siblings, Julia and Cody

A big thank you to Teresa Varela-Lauper, another one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

My 19 year old son Nicholas dropped out of college last year.

He tried it, didn’t like it and didn’t know what to do next. I know many people who have succeeded in life without college…. however, for the most part the odds are stacked against him.

Unemployment rates triple for high school graduates compared to those with a 4 year college degree. Couple this with an income disparity when you think of the pool of jobs available without a college degree and it’s not a pretty picture. (Bureau of Labor Statistics and Pew Research)

What are we doing to encourage our young people to get into IT?  

And, how do we show our kids there are solid careers out there without requiring a 4 year degree?

How do we encourage change among businesses to hire and invest in these kids?

A career in technology will be a lifesaver for many….there is low unemployment, high demand for skilled workers and a mass of free training to encourage folks to start their careers here.

It’s my Christmas wish that our new U.S. administration will look at apprenticeship programs to help at risk employees learn new skills.

The UK has done an amazing job with this. Instead of talking about saving coal jobs, the better question is how can we re-skill these workers? How can we encourage businesses to take on that challenge and pay employees as they learn? Let’s look over the pond at a model that is working.

As for Nicholas, I’m happy to share he recently started an IT helpdesk program at Hunter Business School here on Long Island. This is a 15 month computer technician program where he will learn PC repair/installation, planning and maintenance and also earn his CompTIA A+ certification.

Let’s change the narrative for our future workers and ring in 2017 with technology apprenticeships.

Teresa Varela-LauperTeresa Varela-Lauper is Director of Business Development. She works with SMB and Fortune 1000 clients in the US who are looking to attract and retain good IT talent as well as promote a culture of innovation and productivity. She lives in the Greater New York City Area.





Girls in Jamaica leading the way in IT!

Kingston, Jamaica

A big thank you to Kirk Smallwood, one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA  for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

Like Mark Plunkett (our previous guest blog poster), I also am afforded the opportunity to travel as part of my role at CompTIA. Anyone who travels often for their job knows this can be both a blessing and a curse. Just recently, I woke up early to learn my flight had been cancelled due to weather. This can make for a stressful day!

I also recently had a blessing, as I was fortunate enough to travel to Kingston, Jamaica to visit with some of our academic partners.

It was a great opportunity to see first-hand what Leonard Wadewitz, who manages LATAM and the Caribbean, was accomplishing there. Many of my friends and family had said something to the effect of “ooh—Jamaica!  Nice!” when I mentioned where I was going to.

They would certainly retract their enthusiasm if they saw what I saw from the cab ride to my hotel. Anyone who needs a wakeup call to realize how fortunate we are in the USA (or many other countries for that matter), they should just visit Kingston for a few days. Jamaica is one of the slowest developing countries in the world, with very high levels of crime, violence and unemployment. In addition, my cab driver informed me of Jamaica’s corrupt leadership and numerous other challenges. Cab drivers are great for local intelligence!

As part of the trip, Leonard created a Young Women in IT event where six high schools bused in nearly 100 girls to Excelsior Community College for a day-long event geared to educate them on the opportunities in IT careers. The day started with several speakers (Leonard being one of them) and even though I wasn’t speaking, they insisted on having me sit on stage. As I looked out into the audience of these young girls, I was amazed at how alert and engaged they were. I was trying to find someone, anyone who was not showing any interest, but was unable to do so.

The speaking sessions were followed by a series of breakouts where the girls could learn more about things like graphic design, app development, computer hardware, etc. Each session had limited space, so the school administrators would ask for the first 20-25 people who were interested in a session to line up. The enthusiasm for which the girls would burst out of their seats to jump in line was obvious.  Throughout the day, some of the girls made a point to come up to us and ask questions or simply to say they appreciated us coming.

The whole experience got me thinking—are our youth in the US (especially girls) as excited as these girls are about the opportunities in IT careers?

And if these girls, who seemed to be “Teflon-coated” to the obvious challenges in their country, could have such a wonderful attitude and be thirsty to learn, what is anyone else’s excuse?

This was certainly a wake-up call for me—I shouldn't take anything for granted and I should reinforce to my kids how fortunate they are. It also solidified my belief that IT is THE industry to be in now and the future.

It was wonderful to see that some young girls in Jamaica may also feel similarly.

Kirk Smallwood, CompTIAKirk Smallwood

Kirk Smallwood is the Vice President of Business Development with responsibility for The Americas at CompTIA



Uber Effective Communication

UberA big thank you to Mark Plunkett, one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

I count myself very lucky in my role at CompTIA to be able to travel and see some very interesting places in the world.

Recently, within a 5 week spell, I spent only 3 days in Chicago, where I now live. That was a little too extreme. I spent time in California, Seattle, Wisconsin, London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh.

Now these are all pretty different places, there is no doubt about that but I wanted to link them all in some way, and to be honest there are many similarities. One personal to me is that I used Uber in every country and city. As well as this, I managed to engage in some fantastic and interesting conversations with strangers in each place. This is something that is easily done, regardless of language if you are prepared to reach out and put a little effort in.

Now because I work in the Technology industry, it fascinates me to see how people engage with tech around the world, their thoughts around it and how they use it. As you can imagine during the many Uber rides, the subject of technology comes up a lot. Not always driverless cars or new cutting edge innovative ideas, but general everyday questions.

Also, I find people want to know about me and I like to get to know information about them. Many drivers don’t think they are savvy on the subject of technology, yet they still understand the basics and use technology as part of their daily lives. Most have their smart phones showing them directions and getting live traffic updates.

There is something very rewarding about talking to a stranger and finding mutual interests or being educated in areas of potential interest. I used to continually be on my phone in an Uber when travelling, checking email, reading news articles, making calls etc. I now make a conscious effort to have a chat with my driver. You never know where the conversation might go, or what you both may get out of it.

Recently whilst in Seattle, I had a great ‘tech’ conversation. The gentleman driving me was very interested in what I do, and more importantly why I do what I do. So I gave him various facts, and shared some of the stories from my travels and how we’d been able to help various individuals around the world to get a foot in the door in IT, through our certifications.

Incidentally this gentleman’s brother was working in IT and had become siloed within the company and consequently lost his job due to changes. He was now at the cross roads in what to do next and how to make himself more employable. There are so many courses and certifications in the market and it can be quite confusing determining which is most relevant and worthwhile.

I proactively offered up my suggestions and we connected on LinkedIn during the Uber ride.

He has contacted me since and we’ve followed up back and forth, I believe his brother is now interested in pursuing his career in information security and is studying CompTIA’s Security+ and plans to gain the certification as a part of his retraining. This really is just one of many examples of these types of conversations I’ve had and I often wonder what would happen if they didn’t, would people find their natural route anyway, or would they not?

I think everyone needs help, advice, support and information.

Call me old fashioned but I still believe the best way to communicate is to talk to each other. Trust me there are some very good, kind and interesting people out there, but you’ll never know if you don’t look up from your phone more often!

Being able to communicate effectively is that skill that covers pretty much every job, industry and country out there.

It’s so easy to practice too, so next time you are in an Uber or you have the chance, give it a go!

Start talking ..

Mark Plunkett

Mark Plunkett is the Regional Director for Emerging Markets at CompTIA