CompTIA’s new UK channel community director Estelle Johannes has taken over from Vaughan Shayler – and brings with her a host of new ideas for the trade body. Dominic Sacco asks her about closing the IT skills gap, and what initiatives members can expect to see in the future…
From Advancing Women in IT to closing the skills gap, increasing member engagement and representing the community, Estelle Johannes already has a lot on her plate when I meet her at CompTIA’s Central London office.
But despite having such a broad remit, and bearing in mind she has only just joined the IT trade organisation as its new UK channel community director, she is upbeat, with a warm demeanor and a genuine smile.
Originally hailing from Cape Town, Johannes is already experienced in the UK tech sector, having worked in London at channel community organisation Baptie & Company for almost a decade. She’s also familiar with CompTIA and has worked with industry relations senior VP Nancy Hammervik in the past (whom Johannes describes as “totally honest and reliable”), arranging her to speak at conferences.
While her new position includes a lot of the responsibilities former CompTIA exec Vaughan Shayler had, it is technically a separate role. So what’s different, and what fresh ideas does she have for the training and certification body?
“I’m super excited to be on board,” she beams. “It’s a really great opportunity. From what I understand, Vaughan Shayler had a community focus and marketing, but my role will be focusing 100 per cent on the community, which is very exciting.
“In the UK, there are a couple of things that we want to do. We want to increase engagement and make sure people understand what CompTIA is about. The main purpose is to increase and make companies successful.
“The other initiative that’s big at the moment is the skills gap in the industry. With the education young people get and what they’re actually supposed to do in some tech jobs – there’s a gap.
“So a lot of companies find it difficult that they have to up-skill people. We want to give them the opportunity to find resources. It’s also very important to let teachers know the different IT career options as they advise the children and young adults of today. Otherwise we’ll get a bit stuck, because you’re going to have people that are retiring and leaving the IT industry. So there is a big gap [we want to close].”
Johannes is clearly passionate about this issue, and a similar topic too: the number of women working in technology. CompTIA already has its own Advancing Women in IT initiative, now it’s planning on bringing its ‘Dream IT’ series of school visits and talks from the US to the UK this October.
“It’s an education piece where we try to empower people to go out to universities and schools, and talk about how they can access tools to promote women in tech; it makes them realise a career in technology is viable, it’s feasible – not just someone typing away on a computer in a dungeon somewhere,” she laughs.
There are other changes Johannes is planning on making in the long run. CompTIA UK will be running more channel-focused webinars, plus it will be adding ‘gamification’ to its website: the more members visit and use the site, the more kudos they get, which will aim to give them more recognition for being an evangelist for CompTIA.
She tells me the trade body is also looking at translating more process documents into French, Italian, German and Spanish, as well as arranging more regional meetings to get people to collaborate more closely, and producing starter guides to instruct resellers how to supply IT into different sectors.
What else will Johannes be focusing on in the future?
“At our Birmingham event on June 23rd and 24th, we’re going to do a survey to find out the attitude of the community on the perception of the skills gap,” she says.
“We’re going to increase engagement, bring out new initiatives and make the community and the industry stronger. So it’s really exciting and I feel lucky to be here.”