It does not matter whether you are in Guildford or in Nairobi, it seems that it is never hard to get 10 and 11 year-old girls to chat. Recently I met about 30 of them over TelePresence, (Cisco’s high definition video conferencing). The aim of the meeting was to inspire them to consider careers in IT in the future and was designed to be a question and answer session. Having introduced myself and explained how I got into the IT industry many moons ago, the floor was all theirs.
Questions came flooding at me and the pressure was on to make a good impression. Despite the distance between them, I was immediately struck by the similarities of the girls – all in their smart school uniform, all smiling at me and a few girls gave me a little wave. Their respective teachers introduced the schools and that was where the similarity ended. The girls in Nairobi were from a deprived slum area whilst the girls from Guildford were mainly middle class. The questions they asked however were very different. Yes I was asked the usual questions such as “How did I get into IT?” “Do I like my job?” “What do I do?” etc . However the girls in Nairobi wanted to know how I got work, how long did it take me to get there, how many hours did I work and then they asked me probably the most poignant question of the session. “Does your technology help people in drug rehabilitation centres?” Wow, that question was so telling on many levels! By the way I didn’t know the answer but was able to explain how our technology Healthpresence is enabling doctors and hospitals to see more patients remotely and is extending the reach of healthcare.. The question was also in stark contrast from one of the Guildford girls who wanted to know what was the colour of my toothbrush! The last question asked was “ What was my most prized possession?” No prizes for guessing which school asked this one but I hope both schools took a few minutes to think about my response. I said “ it is not a possession as such but my answer is my HEALTH”.
I then left the meeting so the girls could get to know each other better. I felt very privileged to have taken part and very humbled by the girls in Nairobi. I cannot really imagine what their lives are like on a daily basis or whether or not I inspired them but I hope they left the session with something constructive to talk about! The meeting has certainly left it’s footprint on me, more so than I expected. The children were so similar in their openness, friendliness and willingness to participate. However the use of the Cisco office would have sheltered the girls from Guildford from the harsh reality their new friends from Nairobi face each day and would have made it difficult for them to really comprehend their differences. Hopefully this would have been a good thing – the real understanding that we are not that different from each other after all!
This is a tough blog post for me. Like many folks in the US and around the world I too believe we have lost a genius. From a consumer products perspective Jobs disrupted the animation industry, disrupted the music industry, disrupted the phone industry and disrupted the laptop industry. Disruption for the last three meant big wins for Apple -- big profits and big market share numbers.
We’re all wondering what was planned next and, despite assurances that Apple will continue to produce innovation and that innovation is in safe hands with the existing management, I have a feeling that the ‘Jobs spark’ will be hard to replicate in the future. I do have confidence that someone or ‘ones’ will appear in the future to continue the innovation the US has been famous for.
Steve Jobs ‘Righting the Ship’ after he takes the Helm. He’s talking about his predecessor’s approach, not his! That’s why Gates etc. are laughing.
As Managing Editor of the Manufacturing Industry Blog I am allowed the occasional ‘Editorial’ only slightly related to the industry (well, that’s what I’ve decided, anyway!). So this blog is tough because I’m not going to address the innovation issue. I’m not going to address the need for improved education or more engineers or more math students (though they are sadly needed).
No, this blog is about priorities in life. I’ve learned, as many of us have, that Jobs allegedly delayed getting surgery for his pancreatic cancer by three-quarters of a year, or thereabouts. It is reported that the new biography that’s due out on Monday has some of the details. Now I make no judgment on his choices, I’ll leave that to you as reader, but a “60 minutes” interview that airs on Sunday with biographer Walter Isaacson apparently confirms details that had been speculated upon or widely reported, including that Jobs might have been cured of his “slow-growing” cancer had he sought professional treatment sooner, rather than resorting to unconventional means.
Please don’t judge Steve Jobs, or me. But here’s a similar learning from both of us. I passed a certain age a while ago where I should have had my first colonoscopy. I delayed it. Too busy; not high enough priority; low risk factors; you name the excuses. Four years after that time, in 2010, my wife Julie forced me to have it done. We had a 6 year old and she had just given birth to our second child – a beautiful baby girl.