This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Moira de Roche.
Moira is passionate about issues facing women in the workplace, with a special focus on how to interest more girls in ICT careers as well as how to ensure that women can achieve their potential.
She is a trustee of the South African Computer Olympiad whose function is to run the annual Computer Programming and Applications Olympiads in South Africa.
Moira was recently appointed as a Non-Executive Director to the Metropolitan Trading Company, an entity of the Joburg City Council that is charged with developing and maintaining the broadband network in the city. She sits on the Social and Ethics Committee, and chairs the committee on HR, Remuneration and Transformation.
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
|:00:25:|| ||Thank you Moira for coming in today to do this interview.
"....It's a pleasure, Stephen. Thank you for having me...."
|:00:31:|| ||It's been a few years since our last interview; can you update us on what you have been doing?
"....I remain very involved with the Institute of IT Professionals of South Africa (IITPSA). As you know I am a Professional member and a Fellow at the Institute and I am also a Director. One of my roles is to work with the South African Computer Olympiad Trust....Because I am interested in promoting women in IT, I proposed to the Institute that we offer programming scholarships for three girls (which would be for the last three years of high school), using an on-line programming school that aligns to the International Examination Board exams. This is my first year so I have my first three girls and I'm hoping to grow that....I am very interested in women in IT, so I work with the Institute on various initiatives to try to promote that. You very kindly introduced us as well to the person who runs the ITU EQUALS program and I think the IITPSA as well as IP3 will be very interested in collaborating with EQUALS because all of us have the same goals, which is to promote women in ICT...."
|:02:49:|| ||Moira, how do you see the work of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) organization in terms of your contribution to it?
"....I've been involved with IP3 since it was founded in 2007....From an IFIP point of view, we started off as just being a taskforce, but over the years IFIP has seen the impact that IP3 has both in terms of its accreditation programs, but even more particularly in the ability that we've had to develop relationships globally. Like you Stephen, I sit on the Industry Council and I think that is quite an innovation for IFIP than it ever had before. IFIP traditionally was very academic and I think with the Global Industry Council and our other activities at forums like WSIS we've really had a large impact at bringing IFIP the body closer to corporates as well as remaining very close to academia...."
|:05:29:|| ||The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is a United Nations agency responsible for technology, and I know you have been doing a lot of work with them. Can we talk more about that?
"....We started to go to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) hosted and organized by ITU in 2012. I think working with the ITU through the WSIS forum we've really got a better understanding of the issues that face everybody. So we've taken ourselves beyond just being very focused around ICT practitioners and ICT professionalism and stood outside of that realm and said: ‘Why is ICT professionalism important to everybody else?’ I think that it took a bit of time for us to actually come to terms with that and change our messaging so that the people at ITU and the rest of the participants in the wonderful forum that is WSIS could see why it's important that the ICT professionals that provide the services are ethical, are trustworthy. I also think we've really made an impact in terms of looking at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and how we can align what we do to the SDGs and where the gaps are...."
|:09:51:|| ||Moira, the EQUALS program is a gender equality, diversity, equity program and tied to the ITU unit of the United Nations (specifically the SDG5 which is about gender equality). Very interesting work, can you comment?
"....Gender equality absolutely, and I noticed just today that ITU are celebrating Youth Day. I think that initiatives like that really do bring the whole community together and really do bring everybody into this IT space so that it's not "them and us" anymore, but we become a much bigger community so I was impressed to see that as well...."
|:10:42:|| ||You have also been doing some work in cybersecurity, can you talk more about that as well?
"....E-learning is really my profession and last year I met with a professor from the University of Johannesburg. Professor Von Solms is a past president of IFIP as it happens, but I've known him for a very long time because he was the IITPSA representative on General Assembly. Anyway, he asked me if I could help with developing a program for them, Diploma in Cybersecurity....I really live what I talk because I'm a lifelong learner. I continually learn a number of things that are relevant to the industry, relevant to learning and relevant to professionalism so it's been really great for me to become far more familiar with cybersecurity....While we are on the subject of skills, ITU is also pushing the subject of digital skills strongly because digital skills are so important in the 21st Century I sincerely believe that privacy and security are indeed some of those digital skills...."
|:13:25:|| ||Let's talk more about your professional life. Projects you are working on or planning to work on or that are coming up.
"....The other thing that I am doing apart from my e-learning projects is that I recently was appointed to the Board of a company called MTC. MTC is a company that is charged with broadband rollout for the City of Johannesburg....In South Africa the broadband rollout and especially free wifi to the disadvantaged community, (which is what the company is doing), is very important. It's very nice to be part of the initiative that is working on that and guide (in my small way) to do it the right way...."
|:15:06:|| ||Moira, you are a notable leader and visionary for Africa and have been working in Africa for some time, can you talk about some of the major challenges in Africa and their solutions?
"....The real challenge is access to the internet and data availability remains very expensive. Data availability and access to the internet are real challenges because we know that once people have access to the internet it changes their world; they receive economic transformation. I think too that the access has to be not just centered around cities. I believe that if people can work and earn a decent living in their communities and not always having to migrate to the cities, then you get much better economic equity across a country rather than having it very concentrated around a few cities. So I think that access and then access in rural and remote areas is very, very much an issue....I see certainly in South Africa, statistics are showing that more and more people have access to the internet, but the difference is that it is always through the mobile phones. Mobiles and smartphones have made a huge difference to giving people access because it's how most people in this country and in Africa access the internet...."
|:18:08:|| ||The Fourth Industrial Revolution is all about disruptive innovation on the physical, digital or biological side. Perhaps this question is somewhat controversial, but do you think Africa should concentrate or at least have some focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and embrace it, together with working on things like basic infrastructure and so on?
"....Africa should absolutely embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the reason is that the economic benefits, in my opinion, far outweighs the disadvantages. I realize that a lot of people worry about loss of jobs etc., but we keep talking about creating decent jobs and I believe that the fourth industrial revolution will enable us to create decent work so that it goes from the manual to being slightly more knowledge worker type of jobs....Whereas last year the focus of WEF was very much around the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this year the focus was around responsible and responsive leadership and it's a good segue into the next thing and that is we have to have that responsible leadership. We've spoken about the requirement for trust in Artificial Intelligence in the Internet of Things so that responsibleness needs to be there, but also the responsiveness to welcome the change, to welcome the disruption and benefit from it...."
|:20:52:|| ||You have some upcoming speaking engagements and travel, can you talk more about that?
"....I have lots of travel, but from Cape Town to Johannesburg pretty much every week for the next several weeks. In early September I will be speaking at the the e-learning update conference (an annual conference in its ninth interation), and I've spoken at probably six out of the nine of those....The following week we will be in Sri Lanka in Colombo and we will be talking at the CSSL Conference....In November I will speaking at the Computer Society Zimbabwe Summer School....and possibly also speaking at the conference at Tanzania at the end of October...."
|:23:31:|| ||Are there any further comments or areas you would like to address, both on the non-profit side but also on the business professional side?
"....I think that we need to continue the conversation collectively around trustworthiness. As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Artificial Intelligence in the Internet of Things, the trustworthy provision of ICT becomes much more important and an educated population around privacy and security and all the other digital skills becomes very, very important. That, together with gender diversity, will continue to be my scene for the next couple of years I think...."
|:24:25:|| ||Moira, you have prominent leadership roles within IFIP, but also within the IT Professionalism Program which is IP3, can you talk about some of your goals for the future?
"....We have members (and all IFIP members are eligible to be members of IP3), but I think we've got to develop the partnership role further and we also need to look at the work of the technical committees of IFIP to see where there are possibilities for collaboration. I think a sad thing happens when more than one body (that are part of a bigger umbrella body) are doing exactly the same things so I would like to see a sharing partnership and collaborative partnerships....The other thing that I'm looking forward to us doing is updating the Skills 2020 Guide because the jobs in ICT have changed and the roles have changed and the focus on cybersecurity is quite significant, so we are working on updating that Guide and we will put the new version out in 2018....."
|:26:46:|| ||Moira, I know there are tremendous demands on your time because of your demanding schedule. We are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.
"....If I could just end with saying that everybody needs a purpose for life, and so many of my volunteer activities give my life purpose and that is why I'm so devoted to them...."