Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



Moira de Roche, Outstanding Multi-awarded Serial Social Entrepreneur and Senior Global Executive

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Moira de Roche.

Moira de RocheMoira de Roche is an independent consultant with a focus on helping business and educational organizations design and develop learning programs, and measure the impact and return of these programs. She is currently working with a large university, as technical lead for a small team who are designing and developing E-Learning modules for a diploma course. Moira also works with small companies, especially non-profit companies, to develop strategies and measure the achievement of strategic goals and objectives.

Moira was Managing Director of Laragh Skills, a SkillSoft distributor. She worked with the company for over 17 years, first as Regional Manager and then assuming the position of Managing Director. After the company was taken over she decided to work on her own as a consultant.

Moira has spent the last two decades in the E-Learning industry and has a keen interest in the impact of emergent learning landscapes, especially Social Media and the use of new technologies in learning. She has worked with corporates, as well as Education Institutions.

Moira is a Director of IITPSA (formerly CSSA), and a Past President. She is a Professional Member (PMIITPSA) and a Fellow of the Society and a proud recipient of the "EngineerIT/CSSA Distinguished Service in ICT" award in 2009. She currently serves as the Honorary Treasurer. She is also a member of ACM.

She is a trustee of the South African Computer Olympiad Trust, whose function is to run the Computer Programming and Applications Awards in South Africa. Moira is also Deputy Chair and a Director, responsible for Marketing, of IFIP IP3. She is also a Vice-Chair and Director of IFIP IP3 Global Industry Council.

During the past two years, Moira has also worked with some IT departments helping them develop career paths and job descriptions aligned to the ITJobCompiler© framework. This work fits well with her passion for developing IT professionals against a framework and in line with membership of professional ICT societies. She uses many platforms to spread the message about Ethical conduct, which she believes trumps any belief system.

Moira holds a diploma in Strategic Digital Marketing (SmartInsights). She was motivated to accomplish this by a desire to help small companies and non-profits to make the most of the marketing opportunities that Social Media offers.

Moira has spoken at several conferences on various aspects of education and learning including Virtual Learning Environments for Education, Measuring ROI in L&D, Social Learning, Emergent Learning Landscapes, Developing E-Learning, and Game-Based learning.

For more details:

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the Canadian IT Pro Connection where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:29: What are some lessons you can share from your time as Managing Director of Laragh Skills, a SkillSoft distributor?
"....I think looking back the one that sticks out the most is the importance of leadership; most especially servant leadership. I also believe that you need to live strong values. Other people will follow and imitate you and you will then have values that are entrenched in the culture of the organization. Finally, I think it's so important to look after people and remember that they have lives too...."

:01:35: Moira, can you talk about your work as an independent consultant and what you hope to achieve?
"....Previously, for many years I had worked for small companies even though we were part of a huge global group for some stage and the South African operation was reasonably small. I like the personal aspect of the smaller organization and I'd always wanted to work for myself....I remain quite passionate about learning, but I also want to help small businesses and non-profit organizations with their strategy and marketing. There's a lot of freedom and obviously a lot of stress as well, but a lot of freedom of being an independent consultant that I really enjoy...."

:03:22: From your work leading, designing, and developing E-Learning modules for a diploma course for a large university, what elements make for effective courses?
"....From a development point of view the thing that I've really had to stress on the team is understanding that the audience is essential and the developer has to consider everybody from the student's point of view. We are developing for people who have already been working so that puts a different slant on it because one has to assume that the people we are developing for have some prior knowledge. We have to be able to mine into their existing knowledge and at the same time teach them new skills. We also have to ensure that learning transfer takes place and that the learners or the students have the ability to transfer the skills that they've learned into their workplace (bearing in mind again that everyone's workplace is going to be slightly different). That ability to transfer learning, but get our course into their workplace without thinking about it is really what will define the success avenue of this diploma in the longer term...."

:06:45: As a recognized leader in the E-Learning industry what are the emergent learning landscapes, especially in Social Media and new technologies?
"....The great thing about social media is that it makes collaboration a reality. People have to have a reason to collaborate and now that they collaborate using social media it doesn't have to become a choice anymore. They now are naturally collaborating so we can easily extend that collaboration that they are doing as part of their socializing into a learning group place. Social Media has become a very powerful method of collaborating and also for sharing knowledge. In the last five years Twitter has been the top learning tool because it's so quick and easy to find such excellent learning resources or to share with your own community so it's both a way of collaborating, but also a great platform for sharing....The focus on gaming has also brought a new perspective to learning and the assessment of learning. Gaming stimulates almost every area of the brain. It naturally causes all the things that you want in learning: engagement, challenge, rewards or success....Digital skills are all about working with documents, search and research, project collaboration, attention management, communication, digital etiquette, platform flexibility and security and privacy. I believe that people have a duty to teach the people in their organizations those digital skills....We've also got to stop being so structured about it and be much more outcomes focused and give people a lot more freedom. We tell them what we want them to be able to do at the end of the period of time and then we should just let them do it themselves. The budget is "x" amount of time and that will enable them to learn in the way that suits them best, to find resources that suit their learning styles and to learn at the times that suit them...."

:11:35: Can you talk about your history with The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) and recent accomplishments?
"....I've been involved with the IITPSA at an executive level for about fifteen years now. I first served as the Chapter (which is our name for the branch) Chair for three years in the Western Cape which is where I'm based and then later as President. Because of my involvement in IP3, from the beginning I was adamant that IITPSA should be IP3 accredited. As with many of these organizations who are largely dependent on volunteers, preparing for the accreditation took a long time....We were accredited by the South African qualifications authority in 2012 and I was certain that this meant that we were in good shape for IP3 accreditation. So a couple of years down the road and happily we achieved full accreditation in July 2015. We agreed at the last IITPSA meeting last week that we will seek Technologist level (in other words IP3 accreditation, Level 3) in 2016....."

:14:46: Tell us more about your work with the South African Computer Olympiad Trust?
"....The Computer Olympiad Trust runs three competitions. The first is a Talent Search competition. We realized a few years back that some schools were disadvantaged and therefore excluded from entering the competition because maybe they didn't have computers. We wanted to have a competition that at the time was a paper-based competition that really checked the logic and thinking ability....Then since the early 80s we've been running the Programming Olympiad in line with the international competition. We run it locally and then the top four students get trained up and go to the international Olympiad. I'm delighted to say that this year we won 4 bronze medals at the international Olympiad. We also realized that very few schools in South Africa actually teach programming so again we were very conscious of the fact that we were excluding people by running that competition. We decided about five years ago that we would also run an Applications Olympiad where students are given business problems to solve using applications software. It's been far more popular than we ever expected and I believe it's a good competition for preparing people for the world of work....I was invited to join the Trust because I'm quite innovative and often have good ideas and also I'm very strong on the governance side which is important in a trust...."

:18:08: Moira, as Deputy Chair of IFIP IP3, what are your goals going forward and explore some recent wins?
"....I think the biggest win for IP3 is the recent one where we’ve been formally included in IFIP structures. We've been supported by IFIP in the past but have always been seen as an add-on. We were unanimously invited in as part of the main body, we will have a voting seat at the General Assembly and also a position on the executive....IP3 has, as you know, attended the World Summit for Information Society over the past 4 years. We've always been certain that this activity would be worth it and I think that at last we've seen evidence of this. Stephen your presence at the UN GA Reviews of WSIS Strategic Sustainable Development goals is evidence that at last the UN bodies and ITU are realizing that the goals cannot be achieved for an Information and Knowledge Society without a professional, skilled and ICT group force on the supply side and that I think is a great win...."

:22:53: Moira, as Vice-Chair and Director of IFIP IP3 Global Industry Council (GIC) which is also incorporated into the statutes and bylaws of IFIP, how do you see the GIC evolving and explore recent wins?
"....I think that the Global Industry Council is a wonderful think tank and we have input from 28 industry leaders....The recent launch of the Skills 2020 Report shows what this collaboration with the GIC is capable of and I hope in many such projects in the future. I also plan to map the GIC Social Value Projects to the WSIS Strategic Sustainable Development Goals because I think that sort of brings it full circle. We've already linked the IP3 goals and objectives to the Sustainable Development goals but I think we can add an extra emphasis to those when we show that not only do IP3 have outcomes that mapped to those goals, but so too do Social Value projects so that's something that I plan to do over the next few months and we'll hopefully have it ready for WSIS in 2016...."

:24:27: The Commonwealth of Learning, which represents the Ministries of Education in over 50 countries, has expressed an interest in the Global Industry Council 2020 Skills Assessment report. Moira, you were a key contributor to that report, can you tell the audience where they can get that report?
"....It's available on the IP3 website:, under Global Industry Council Skills 2020 Report....We've had downloads from people from all around the world, from business, governments, organizations like the Commonwealth of Learning, and the E-Skills project in the European Commission - so it really has had wide appeal. We are working to keep it in front of view of people, because we think it has a lot of value and skills are such a key issue in ICT...."

:25:53: Can you overview your work with the ITJobCompiler© framework?
"....A colleague of mine produced the ITJobCompiler© framework, which is actually not equalled anywhere in the world. She's done it over several years and it's an online service. In addition to the framework it has the ability to create a career development roadmap, has over 450 job descriptions worked into it which are all customized all for IT....It's been licensed to IITPSA so that we can work with our members, especially enterprise members in developing their IT careers.....Other than making some suggestions I've done very little on the development side, but I have worked with a couple of large organizations in the last year helping to implement it...."

:27:43: You have a background in Strategic Digital Marketing. What advice can you give to enterprises, SMBs and non-profits?
"....We now have social media marketing which can allow you to get a very large audience, and if you do it cleverly it can go viral and you can reach people that aren't even in your immediate network. It really brings the whole concept of 6 degrees of separation to reality because everybody knows someone who knows someone who knows someone....It's so important to have a plan. You need to spend a little bit of money upfront for a professional to develop a plan and then you can really take advantage of and exploit what social media offers...."

:29:31: Please share some lessons from your recent speaking engagements?
"....I think there's still a sad lack of understanding by educational institutions of the real power of online learning and the real power of true interactive online learning. Unfortunately, because of the way that educational institutions have had to work in the past they haven't quite embraced the opportunities that online provides them. However having said that, a lot of the conferences I speak at are aimed at educators so online learning education is quite a big topic and they are embracing it but I think it's a pity that it's a bit slow. Also the learning and development community corporates still have this great need to be in control of learning. I said earlier that I see learning being freed so the learner can determine what learning they want to do and what medium they want to use and all they need to do is to make sure they achieve the outcomes. That kind of attitude around learning supports continuous professional development because when people start to get that mindset you don't have to force continuous professional development on them because they do it naturally....The other thing I find is that there's such a fear of trying to measure a return on investment on money spent on learning. Huge amounts of money are spent on training and if you spent the same amount on another project you'd really have to prove that it gave you a return on investment. It's a bit worrying that there's not enough of a measure of return on investment done by learning and development professionals...."

:32:47: Can you describe what you feel are some of the key issues with the ICT sector and particularly computing and what are your recommendations?
"....Skill shortage is still a big issue. A misconception I think about skills shortages is that the shortage is at the entry-level, it's not. The shortage is really in the middle of that career roadmap. The only way we can truly address those shortages is ensuring that people get a good education to start with and have the correct core body of knowledge. The only way to overcome that is for corporates to look at career development, so they need to look at their IT staff and look at how they develop their people into those areas where there are shortages....The second issue is around women in ICT. Not enough girls are entering computing and then not enough women who do come into computing are staying and that's because it's still not a gender unbiased industry. There is still a feeling or perception that girls don't do well at programming which is absolute garbage. We need to do a lot of work at overcoming that so that there are no stereotypes left....I think another key issue is the failure to address the whole professionalism issue, to make sure that we have ICT people who are skilled and competent and ethical. Businesses and the users and the vendors and governments have to embrace professionalism...."

:37:57: What are some other areas, particularly related to computing, do you feel need to be brought into focus for discussion and policy?
"....An area that really has to be looked at is the whole issue of trustworthy computing; that what we do should be trustworthy. I think that security and trustworthiness are two issues that might need attention...."

:39:21: Please share some stories of "impossible" challenges you were able to master and perhaps some important lessons you can summarize from those challenges?
"....First, my whole journey with IP3 has been quite a challenge. In the early days, because of the founding structure or the founding partners having to give seed money and my organization not being able to do that. I was always a bit of a Cinderella on IP3 and was treated as such by some of the earlier leaders in that organization. I think that it's evidence of my resilience and I suppose my stubbornness that I just hung around because I believed in the cause....I think it is believing in what you do and who you are and standing strong and probably you'll prevail...."

:41:01: You are a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world's largest innovation, educational, scientific, professional practise association, which holds hundreds of conferences, 37 special interest groups and has an array of resources and so on. What do you feel are the most valuable resources to practitioners?
"....I always tell people that being a member of the ACM is the best deal in town because of the resources you get access to as part of your membership. It includes online books, online courses, access to webinars (they are running very frequently now and are recorded so that you can access them after the fact), and also access to real top-notch IT people and innovators....And for a very small additional fee, I have access to vast libraries which is just amazing. An organization that gives you access to a huge amount of resources - I think that's unparalleled in the world and there's just nothing like it in my opinion...."

:42:50: Because of the role you have, in your opinion, what do you think are the top resources that you can share with the audience?
"....There are so many that it's hard to single out. If I look at the online universities, Udacity and Khan Academy come to mind to start with and there are several others. The thing to remember about them is that they just curate content so you can't say I did this course at Udacity and it was brilliant and every course that they have is brilliant or this course from the Khan Academy and everyone is brilliant because that's not the case....The Open University in the UK is another one with excellent resources, although they have limited now their number of free resources....There are also lots of free book resources out there that one can get access to....There is so much stuff out there that my best advice to give to people is to shop around. I often stand up at conferences and give people a list of a few of the free resources and then everybody in the room will have another half a dozen...."

:46:19: Can you make top predictions for the future? Then can you give some recommendations of how ICT executives can act on your predictions?
"....I predict that it will become increasing difficult to identify who the ICT professional is because as has happened over several years now, ICT professionals have moved into business....Second, the whole digital arena, digital marketing will open a whole new crowd of IT people who will be in that digital space. We will stop seeing the distinction between the marketing people who do digital and the IT people and there will be a kind of new meshing of those two things....Third is the impact of big data and cloud data. I don't think that the IT community has really embraced the architecture aspect of big data and certainly of the talent, so there will be more of a move towards the architecture aspects and more of an emphasis on cloud architecture and data architecture than has been in the past, and I think there will be a surprising re-emergence of software engineering in the engineering sense rather than just an IT professional being a software engineer....."

:49:13: You have such an eclectic background and you have many interests. Can you talk further about some of them?
"....My big interest is travelling. I am very stimulated by travelling and I am very fortunate that through my work I've had an opportunity to travel a lot....I'm also a prolific reader and probably that is my big relaxation. I enjoy reading so much because it does relax me but also because it's also one of my sources of education....I enjoy the arts, the ballet and theatre....Of course my IT-related work, my IITPSA and IP3 work are very, very big on my horizon. There are things that I have to specifically devote time to and I'm glad to do it because they are also very strong interests of mine....I mentioned before that learning is a great interest for me and I learn all the time....I also like writing...."

:51:21: Have you ever considered writing a series of novels or other books?
"....Yes I would like to write a book. I need to get back into the habit of even blogging regularly, because unfortunately my E-Learning development work this year has taken up so much of my time and focus that I just haven't had the time to write, but I'm going to discipline myself to get back into it...."

:51:45: From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, can you share any stories (perhaps something amusing, surprising, unexpected or amazing)?
"....We were in Korea at the beginning of October and I had a lot of time on the last day. They had planned to do a trip around Seoul, but I couldn't find anywhere to leave my luggage so I was forced to just go to the airport and spend several hours there. I discovered that it's quite the most amazing airport. Upstairs has a whole cultural center with little shops and displays of the whole Korean culture. Downstairs they actually have a big lily pond and next to it a stage and that particular Sunday they were having concerts and singing on the stage and people had actually come to the airport to attend this concert. In another part of the airport there were musicians playing. It was quite the most amazing thing...."

:53:45: You are an outstanding executive and you've been an executive for so long in so many different capacities, do you have any leadership lessons that you can share?
"....As I said earlier, I think one has to have an idea of servant leadership to lead people but at the same time work alongside them....I don't think people really teach you how to be a good leader. I think people perhaps coach the qualities that you already have to bring out that leadership....Being a good leader is like our own IP3 chairman in that even when you don't agree with her, you do what she wants to do because she inspires you to do that. I think Brenda is an amazing example of a leader because she has the ability to do that and that's not something that's easy to accomplish...."

:56:41: You choose the topic area. What do you see as the top broader challenges facing us today and do you have any solutions you would like to propose? Also, if you were conducting this interview, are there any questions that you would have asked and then what would be your answers?
"....I think that you have such comprehensive questions that I can't think of anything that I would necessarily have asked....The only thing is where you asked people to tell stories about some examples in their work. Storytelling is so compelling and people love stories and everything we do, even in our IP3 marketing, we need to think more about telling stories....I bought a book the other day about somebody who brings out a daily blog about storytelling. I bought her book because I was quite impressed by it. She said when you tell stories (for instance about your product), you shouldn't be telling your story, you should be telling the user's story....What does it mean to the other person? That's what it's all about...."

:59:10: Moira, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.