Profile: Anthony Parker
Anthony Parker was the Chair of BCS Berkshire Branch, a career long technologist and passionate volunteer.
It is with great sadness that we learn and share the news of the unexpected death of former Berkshire branch chairman and active volunteer, Anthony Parker MBCS CITP.
Anthony’s BCS branch work inspired many in his local community, his voluntary contribution to BCS embodied the central purpose of our Royal Charter - to make IT good for society.
Anthony and his contributions to society will be deeply missed by many. Anthony leaves behind his wife, Sarah. We hope that family, friends and colleagues can take some comfort in the extraordinary contributions Anthony has made to his local community.
In an interview as Chair, he explained his motivations and explored the increasing relevance of BCS.
Anthony's career story began with a degree in IT, law and psychology. The middle chapters saw an MBA and the most recent pages see him specialising in blockchain.
His life wasn’t all about technology and helping people and businesses, though: he was a passionate volunteer and saw profound benefits - both professionally and personally - in giving his time, expertise and energy to good causes and organisations with merit.
Anthony was passionate about BCS and this passion carried him to Chair the Berkshire branch.
What does BCS mean to you?
‘I came into BCS from university and it has been so supportive to me, giving me avenues to learn more about the industry and understand where it's going. I've been lucky in my career: I've followed my heart more than my head, which has helped my head in the long run. I think more people should do that and BCS helps enable and support that.
‘BCS also helps to impart knowledge of the IT industry to people who are less fortunate or less educated. When you become part of BCS, it is a professional organisation, so you become part of the IT industry.’
Why are you an active member of BCS?
‘I volunteer to give back and help create a cohesive team to help the community by making IT good for society. A big part of that is working with the younger generation and understanding where IT is heading.
‘Nowadays, young children are more interested in the digital realm - they're always on their mobiles! They're much more likely to be affected by social media, fake news and have online relationships. This whole industry is about education and bringing the next generation in.
‘In my current role, we teach how Bitcoin and blockchain are entrenched in the digital aspects of where the IT industry is going and it's about preparing the next generation for that.’
What do you do as a volunteer?
‘With the Berkshire Branch, we work closely with educational establishments like schools and colleges to run events like Teentech. Teentech involves 100s of school kids learning about STEM technology in fun and creative ways.
'We bring lots of gadgets - like a blue screen weather map and an IT-based drum kit - for them to play with so that they can interact with IT. Key committee members at the branch support these initiatives which engage children with IT and it’s my role as Chair to support these initiatives.’
How does your role help BCS to succeed?
‘Being chair is akin to managing a team: you're there for the objections and to make it easy for the team to perform. My role is to be the conduit between the Berkshire branch (which now also includes Surrey) and the wider BCS.
‘My role ensures the enthusiasm and understanding is there and that we're always linking back to the strategy of making IT good for society. I keep the motor running so my team can come up with good initiatives and ideas to help BCS succeed.’
What is the most interesting part of role for BCS?
‘Meeting such a diverse group of people and understanding how best we can help them. Through BCS, I see people from all walks of life; from a very young kid interested in a topic we're talking about, right up to someone who's retired and wants to rehome their IT skills.
‘I'll go from working with BCS elite like the institute of directors and the CEO, to the CV clinics we run where I'll meet people who don't have a job. Those clinics are great because anyone who wants a job in IT can bring in their CV; we'll critique it and give them feedback. It's working with people from a whole range of spectrums that's so interesting.’
What are you most proud of with BCS?
‘A number of years ago, I founded a group for social technology with its own social media and it now has over 1,500 members. It's an incredibly useful platform to publicise local BCS events to a wider audience. Because of this, the Berkshire branch is one of the most active in the UK, with around 4,000 members that we reach with our newsletter. I’m proud to have contributed to the success of the Berkshire branch.’
Are there any memorable / striking moments you've had with BCS?
‘A standout moment for me was when someone told me he came to one of my talks around mindsets and motivations, which inspired him to join BCS and come to our events in Berkshire. He said it's because he likes the topics we discuss and he liked the passion with which I spoke about the industry and mindsets.
'It felt really good that someone was really listening and taking on board what I was saying. It's really nice to have people come up and say that - it made me feel very proud.’
What makes your role enjoyable?
‘We make it fun by introducing social elements to events and meetings in the Berkshire branch. We have pizza and jokes before committee meetings and every other month, we have a meal and drinks in the pub before the committee meeting.
'It's enjoyable, but it's also a way to say thank you to the volunteers and encourage more to come along and join in the discussion. We're like a big family, it's not stuffy at all - everyone has to use IT these days, so we make it fun and accessible.’
How do you balance work / personal life / volunteering?
‘I use defined time scales and compartmentalise my time. I work in a global team for Tata Consultancy Services, so I capitalise on the different time zones. In the early morning, I'll correspond with the team in India and in the evening, I'll work with the US branch. I use the time in the middle to prepare reports, research and set strategic agendas for my paid job.
‘At the weekends, I focus on my own business and some evenings I'll volunteer for BCS or do more research. There are also definite elements of the weekend and some evenings where I want my phone off, so I can spend time with my wife. We don't have kids yet, so that's probably partly why I have so much time to play with. Ultimately, you have to define your processes and how you like to work.’
What matters most in your professional life?
‘Doing what you love and being passionate about it. If you can focus on what you like to do and what makes you happy and makes you smile, I think money, riches and whatever else you want will come in time. Follow your passions - try and do what you enjoy and you won't have to work a day in your life.’
How did you get to where you are now?
‘I started off with a degree in IT, Law and Psychology and I gravitated towards IT. This led to work in the consultancy profession, specifically as a business analyst and coder. As time went on, I realised most coding was being outsourced, so I concentrated on business and strategy
‘Next, I studied an MBA to learn more about business and strategy. Following on, I spend 10 months researching Bitcoin and blockchain (the cryptocurrency’s underlying technology) and building a business.
‘Research done, I gave talks about Bitcoin and blockchain and made a name for myself in the area. Now, I have my own business - Cuberoot64 - around collaborating with businesses to use Blockchain.
'I also work full time for Tata Consultancy Service managing a large team of consultants.’
What's important to you outside of work?
‘I'm a big fan of sci-fi films and series. I also like just chilling out, spending quality time with my wife and going on walks.
'I work in London once a week in the Tata headquarters, so when I'm over there I'll see friends after work or go to a social event discussing blockchain. These events have that education factor and I do really enjoy discussing it.
‘I replay the day in my mind and write a list of things I could do better or work on the next day. Unloading the things whirring around my brain onto paper to revisit the next day helps me to switch off and enjoy my free time.’
What do you want to do next in your BCS journey?
‘I've recently been asked to become a member of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT), which is a livery company in London. The WCIT has millions to spend per year on community projects and is closely linked to BCS. In fact, lots of people are involved with both; it's almost an extension of BCS.
‘I will look to get involved at a high level to give back to the community with a bit more emphasis on London and what it means to the suburbs. I will also keep the same mantra of supporting education. This is an exciting way for me to be altruistic with my time and donations to give even more back to society.’
What would you say to a new volunteer who asks you how to be successful?
‘Do what you love. When passion and enthusiasm come out, they're very contagious. You have to also consider what other parties want to achieve and where they are coming from to create a win-win scenario.
‘Don't worry about what other people think about you, it's your life and you have to treat yourself right. Do this by getting enough sleep, managing your energy levels and considering what you eat - the odd vegan meal won't go a miss. If you consider all of those things, then you're doing pretty well!’
With the turn of the decade, where do you think BCS should be heading?
‘I think BCS has missed a step in not concentrating much on students and school children. There's a whole swathe of young individuals coming through who are digital natives - their lives are now in WhatsApp groups rather than on BMX bikes. BCS should be reaching out to those digital natives rather than focusing on rules and regulations.
‘In overthinking rules, I feel BCS is not looking enough at the younger generation coming through. In 2020, digital natives will be crucial and technologies like the cloud, AI, 5G and cryptocurrencies will mark how this decade goes.’
If you had children, would you recommend they follow in your footsteps?
‘Yes and no... Yes, in that you should find your passion and follow it, but if IT isn't for you, then don't do it. If you have a fascination with fixing cars, go and fix cars! Move up the value chain and fix Maseratis and Ferraris and build your own boutique car fixing service.
‘If you're passionate about it, whatever it is, you're going to do it far better than anyone else. So, I'd say have the same mental attitude as me, but go in the direction of whatever interests you.’