If you have read some of my previous blog posts you will notice a common thread, I mix my passion for sport with business. With a love for golf and a career within the IT & Digital sector I wanted to share some of my thoughts around these two areas ……Golf is just like IT!
Let me explain where I am going with this and why. Having spent a wonderful day recently watching some of the world’s best golfers make their way around Kingsbarns, just outside St Andrews, there were a couple of instances which made me think about the link between golf and IT.
Golf, like IT, is at a crossroads in terms of participation and getting people involved in the sport. Whilst the IT sector is looking to attract both the younger generation and more women into the industry, golf is also looking at ways to reach and attract a younger audience. Both are experiencing the same difficulties and looking at the current IT market in Scotland, there are several new initiatives in place, such as CodeClan and a number of Women in IT and Women in Tech forums but who is the role model within the current market whom youngsters can aspire to and equally relate to?
Now back to Kingsbarns…For those who enjoy golf they will be familiar with a young Englishman, Andrew Johnson more commonly known by his unique nickname “Beef”. Now standing next to one of the tees and watching the ‘Beef’ stroll up to the tee, two youngsters probably no older than eight were standing patiently waiting to see their hero. Without breaking stride, out came the Beef’s trademark smile, “how you dudes doing?” he said and fist pumped them both. What a special moment for these two youngsters who turned to each other to say “when I grow up I want to be just like Beef”. On reflection this is an example of how one man is breaking down the boundaries and stereotypes of the golfing world. He has a beard, he talks like the youngsters, he is approachable and takes the time to interact with the youngest members of the gallery. This is so far removed from the typical golfing image of a fuddy-duddy sport for the elite few. Beef isn’t alone here in breaking down these barriers and if I was responsible for increasing junior participation in golf in the UK then he would be my number one pick for a strong brand ambassador and role model.
So who in IT can pick up this similar type of mantle? Who can be the one that the next generation aspires to? Who will stand out from IT’s historic stereotype and say that IT is cool and it’s also a great career for woman to flourish in.
For me, when looking at the younger audience it comes back to education and who and what is being done to inspire these youngsters. Can they relate to their teacher and be inspired by them? Do teachers have the knowledge about the key skills required to enter this market. The huge growth in IT & digital careers means it is vital that teachers, parents and students all understand what options are out there. Equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace is essential. When moving into the industry sector, it doesn’t have to be the CEO or IT Director who is the role model, it would be great to see some of the younger developers in the market put themselves out there and be an inspiration to the next generation.