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