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