This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Moira de Roche: Global Innovator, Visionary Thought Leader, and Top-performing Executive; GM Laragh Skills, Chairman Career Planet, IP3 Marketing Director, Past President Computer Society South Africa.
Moira de Roche matriculated from Jeppe High School for Girls. She has completed most of a B.Comm through Unisa, majoring in Industrial Psychology.
She started her career in ICT as a Computer Operator and later became an analyst/programmer at The Star.
Feeling a pull towards training and education, she joined ICL Education and Training as a lecturer. After three years of training on COBOL programming and other subjects, she moved to Barlow Rand Computer Services as Training Officer and was later promoted to Training Manager. Subsequent to that, she moved to Cape Town and spent several years with a supplier of video and computer based training products.
Laragh Skills are her current employers, and she has been with the company for over 15 years, first in the role of Regional Manager, and now General Manager and Director. Laragh Skills are distributors for SkillSoft, the world's largest e-Learning company.
In her position at Laragh Skills (formerly known as SmartForce Africa), she has worked with several clients as a strategic account manager to assist with e-learning implementations. Laragh Skills works to the same business model as SkillSoft; providing not only training software, but the resources to help ensure return on investment. Moira firmly believes that a blended learning programme is the only way to encourage and ensure lifelong learning.
Moira is a Professional Member of Computer Society South Africa. She is immediate Past President, having been President for 4 years. Prior to this she served as Chairman of Western Cape Chapter for 3 of the 6 years she was on the Chapter Committee. In this capacity, she served on the Executive Council, and more recently as Vice President: Professional Development, before being elected President. Since stepping down as President, she once again holds the Professional Development portfolio. She received the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Information & Communications Technology in November 2009, and was made a Fellow of the Society.
Moira is a Trustee of the South African Computer Olympiad Trust, a CSSA project which runs the Olympiad in South Africa. She is also a Trustee of the Siyakhula ABET Trust, whose purpose is to drive computer literacy in South Africa.
Moira was a Director of the ICDL in South Africa for a 3 year period.
She is currently Chairman of the Board of Career Planet, a not-for-profit dedicated to bringing career information to learners from disadvantaged communities.
Moira has also served on the IP3 (International Professional Practice Partnership) Task Force, which was founded at the beginning of 2007 by the International Federation for Information Professionals to further the aims of professionalism in the industry on an international scale. Her primary role on IP3 has been marketing and she was elected to the new IP3 Board in December 2009. Given the opportunity, she would also like to spearhead IP3 related activities in Developing Countries.
Moira's was elected onto the Council of the Cape Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry in November 2009.
Learning and people development are her passion as well as her profession.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Moira, can you describe how you got into computing?
"....It was an accidental thing; it wasn't something I envisioned when I was still at school...."
Moira, can you discuss your prior roles and projects and five key lessons that you wish to pass on?
"....I truly believe that one has to be the change one wants to see....Nothing can replace the personal touch....The importance of time management....To trust one's intuition because it is the marriage of all your experiences combined with a gut-feel....Everything is a learning experience and everything that ever happens to you (good and bad) gives you an opportunity to learn and grow...."
In your prior roles, what were the most difficult challenges that you were not able to overcome at that time? What would you do differently now?
"....One shouldn't put up with abuse of power....and one must never abuse power....Taking over a business where all the key players had left and having to figure it all out for myself...."
What were the key disruptive forces driving change in your life and how can we learn from your experiences?
"....It's not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens to you that molds who you are...."
Moira profiles her current roles and work at Laragh Skills, Computer Society of South Africa as past president, Chairman of the Board at Career Planet, IP3 (International Professional Practice Partnership Task Force), and the value delivered to her diverse audiences.
In your current roles, what are the biggest challenges and their solutions? How does this relate to business value?
"....The challenge of being in the e-learning business is always to try and change the mindset of people....From the Computer Society's point of view the challenge is getting things done with a largely volunteer organization....For Career Planet the real challenge has been getting donor funds....As for IP3 and the task force, it has been very challenging dealing with people from around the world. Often we have different world views...."
Professionalism in IT - what does this mean and why should we care?
"....It's very much a 2-way street, we want the people in IT to be more professional and at the same time we want them to be recognized as a professional...."
How are you contributing to Professionalism in IT and how can others do the same?
"....I have donated a lot of time to the IP3 program on a strictly volunteer basis to a process I totally believe in and I think that speaks to my commitment as a professional. I'm also working with the Computer Society in South Africa and helping them to become ready for professional accreditation....Really it starts from home; you have to first fix your own Society and then try to duplicate that in other areas...."
You have a long history in education and training. What role does e-learning play in continuing professional development?
"....The reality is that you can't provide lifelong learning using only classroom training because nobody has the time or the money to accomplish this. I believe that e-learning has a vital role to play in continuous professional development because it allows people to access training as and when it suits them to do it, and also allows them to access training on a lifelong basis...."
Moira details her work in supporting career planning and development for disadvantaged groups and explains why this matters.
"....Children need to have access to quality career information so that they can get an idea of what is available....That information should easily be accessible to them...."
You have a passion for Women in IT. What does this mean and how can others get involved?
"....In an industry where there is a worldwide skill shortage, it's really unfortunate that so few women enter the profession...."
Can you talk about the enabling aspect of IT in developing countries and what this means to the world economy?
"....IT development can be done from anywhere so it can be a valuable export for any country...."
With the economic challenges, how can we improve the ability of companies to survive?
"....We've got to learn how to encourage creativity, intuition, leadership and quite often those are the things that we don't do. We have to make sure that we get good people whose contributions are acknowledged so that we encourage creativity, innovation etc....."
What are the five most important broader business challenges and solutions?
"....Lack of corporate governance....Social networking....Business and workforce agility....A change from ownership to access....Green issues...."
Provide your predictions of future business trends and their implications/opportunities?
"....More and more social networking will be used as a business and more importantly as a learning tool....Truly mobile workforces....Trends will be around agility and really using technology to make our businesses better...."
Which are your top recommended resources and why?
"....E-learning resources....On-line books....On-line resources in terms of learning, in terms of reference materials....Virtual meeting tools....Social networking tools..."
You are a member of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), a leader within the Computer Society of South Africa, a leader within the IFIP IP3 program and many other programs. Would you recommend joining these organizations?
"....Definitely, they give you a great opportunity to network with other people....It also allows one to understand that one is part of a global community...."
Moira shares some surprising and interesting stories from her work.
Can you summarize what the United Nations founded International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) is trying to do with the Professional Practice Partnership Program?
"....To create a professional status for IT and the opportunity was there to do it on a global basis so they created IP3 as a means of creating and accrediting a global profession....IP3 will manage and measure the global standard...."
If you were doing this interview, what questions would you ask and then what would be your answers?
"....'How would you like to be remembered when you die?'....'What would you do differently if you had your life to do over?'....'Who are your heroes?'...."