Zoë Spilberg and Stephen Tweed from BCS are joined by guests Anne Marie Imafidon MBE, Kolawole Ojo, Richard Amafonye FBCS and Adesina Simon Sodiya FNCS to discuss the BCS HEQ pathway, its impact in Nigeria and the burgeoning opportunity for careers in IT. Blair Melsom MBCS reports.

 

Fast-track your IT career with an educational pathway that takes you beyond your qualifications to the top of your profession. From what to expect as an HEQ student, as a black woman in IT, an educator, or successful leader, this webinar touches on areas key to a successful career in the IT sector and even achieving the pinnacle of success - Chartered IT Professional (CITP). With personal stories and valuable advice for all career levels, each of our speakers shares their unique experience.

Speakers:

  • Brian Runciman MBCS, BCS Head of Content & Insights
  • John Higgins CBE FBCS, BCS President
  • Anne-Marie Osawemwenze Ore-Ofe Imafidon MBE, CEO of Stemettes and is a British Nigerian computing, mathematics and language child prodigy.
  • Zoë Spilberg, BCS Head of Education
  • Kolawole Ojo PHD, CEO of Compunet
  • Temi Alalade, Compunet and BCS HEQ student
  • Julius Godslove MBCS, past BCS student
  • Stephen Tweed, BCS International Director
  • Richard Amafonye FBCS, CIO of Wema Bank and nominated Silver Award Winner (banking) - Nigerian CIO Awards 2020
  • Prof. Adesina Simon Sodiya, President, Nigeria Computer Society, Fellow, NCS

Welcome address: John Higgins CBE FBCS

In his opening remarks, New BCS president John Higgins highlights the view that employers will increasingly be looking for people who can balance global excellent competence with intuitive and practical understanding of what the ethical boundaries are on the IT industry.

A topic touched on later by Richard Amafonye, Higgins advises that having a solid ethical foundation is going to be important for a career in IT - that’s why working with an organisation like BCS is so important, so that ethical competence (as agreed by all members in our code of conduct) can be proven.

Nigerian girls in tech: Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE

CEO and co-founder of the Stemettes, Anne-Marie Imafidon shares what it was like growing up with Nigerian parents in the 90s and wanting to pursue a career in IT. Although she was lucky in the sense that education and hard work were valued in her family, she says it ‘wasn’t easy’ convincing her ophthalmologist father and linguist mother that a career in maths and science was best for her.

Why technology? Imafidon sees the field as ‘creative, super imaginative and allows problem solving skills to grow.’ For some, painting or drawing is creative, but for her, building a database was a creative outlet of sorts. And, ‘technology can be used as a tool to help lots of different people in a really repeatable way.’

Advice for other black women: ‘When you’re making career decisions,’ says Imafidon, ‘what I wish for you is understanding the sense of value in what you have to offer. It is important to understand that the people we think are big in this industry have just one perspective. There is power in your own perspective, Keep hold of it.’ In fact, Imafidon draws a lot of strength and stability from her identity as a Nigerian. ‘Understanding yourself and your history means you are more confident walking into any room.

‘One of the reasons the IT industry hasn’t been able to solve as many problems as it could have at the moment is the lack of perspective up until now. What you have that is different to the other people around the table is what is valuable.

‘We are waiting for Nigerian girls in tech!’

Starting out on your journey of study with BCS Higher Education Qualifications (HEQ):

BCS HEQ offers flexible study routes with mix and match options that align to the industry framework (SFIAplus) HEQ can help

Kickstart your career in IT with the following benefits:

  • Classroom based or self-study options
  • Extensive list of specialist modules to fit a huge range of career paths
  • Study over a timeline that suits the individual
  • Ability to go on to study MSc and become a Chartered IT Professional
  • Tailored for all levels of IT knowledge: from school leaver to career changer

Study and progression in Nigeria: Kolawole Ojo

CEO of Compunet, Kolawole Ojo explores what you can expect as a HEQ student, including study options, tutorial support and local recognition to take you to the next step in your journey. Ojo has enjoyed watching the HEQ programme develop over the past seven years, hailing it as ‘Fantastic, revealing, refreshing!’

HEQ in Nigeria. Ojo explains that the PGD level of the HEQ programme is equivalent to a degree level programme in Nigeria, giving people the opportunity to earn a degree equivalent PGD on much more flexible and affordable terms.

‘You don’t have to come from an IT background to be successful on the HEQ programme,’ says Ojo, or even have any prior knowledge of computing - there is support for all levels of understanding. ‘The programme has been designed in such a way to be flexible and cost-effective, quality assured, complete and relevant.’

The qualification from BCS opens up IT careers around the world. In Nigeria, more than 2000 candidates are currently enrolled on the HEQ programme.

What do HEQ students think?

Julius Godslove, who studied as the same time as working spoke of his ‘committed, highly skilled instructors,’ who helped him progress from a lack of IT knowledge in the beginning, to IT competence. Has gone on to complete a master’s degree and now a PHD in natural language programming - all from foundations formed during his HEQ studies.

Temi Alalade started IT career with BCS HEQ in 2016. She describes herself back then as a ‘complete newbie on the tech scene’; she was worried how she would cope and adapt to the curriculum. However, she says she received great support during her studies, which helped her to find her area of interest - system analysis. One thing she values is how she was able to see real-world applications for what she learnt in the classroom. Now working in industry, her studies still help her.

How to become a Chartered IT Professional (CITP)

CITP is the independent standard of competence and professionalism in the technology industry. Achieving this status allows potential employees to immediately know your level of knowledge and industry expertise.

Fortunately, the path to becoming both RITTech and CITP is paved with support for BCS members.

BCS International Director Stephen Tweed has some advice: ‘When you begin your career, USE your membership - take part in the IT community. Build those networks that will support you in your career, help you find new job prospects and continue learning.

BCS membership helps to grow those career prospects. Just some of the benefits include:

  • CV builder tool and 360° CV evaluation
  • Access to mentors
  • IT jobs board
  • Access to communities and special interest groups - with hundreds of talks / meetings per month.

‘Membership isn’t just something you take from: it is something you can contribute to and that is why it is so important for individuals from around the world, from Nigeria, to join BCS.’

Why professionalism matters: the attributes CIOs are looking for when they recruit

In conversation with Brian Runciman MBCS, BCS Head of Content & Insight, Richard Amafonye CIO of Wema Bank explains the three unexpected virtues needed to set yourself apart in the IT industry, including laziness, impatience and hubris.

Read the full interview with Richard Amafonye

Closing remarks: Professor Adesina Simon Sodiya FNCS

President of the Nigerian Computing Society (NCS), Professor Sodiya closes the webinar with a hopeful view for the future.

‘NCS has been championing the computer industry and the voice of IT professionals for 46 years.

‘BCS and NCS have the same purpose for IT education, which is why the HEQ programme is supported by NCS.

‘As we know, BCS has been the vanguard of computer science and IT education at all levels, all over the world.

‘For those considering a future career in IT in Nigeria, the HEQ programme has been able to showcase the career pathway into it careers. With support from BCS, I want to encourage everyone looking for a career in IT to take seriously consider the HEQ programme in order to pursue a career in IT.

‘The NCS has a long tradition with BCS and we’re looking for a renewed partnership and ways of collaborating effectively with BCS.

Visit the NCS website to get acquainted with its activities.

Q&A session

Watch the full webinar to see answers to questions put to our panel, such as:

  • Are IT workers professional?
  • Is ageism a problem in the industry?
  • And, how can I fit in HEQ studies with a full-time career?

​Find out more about International Higher Education Qualifications with BCS

Fast track your technology career with our flexible programme of higher education IT qualifications giving you the practical skills, knowledge and competencies you need to go far in the global IT industry.

Find out more about HEQ