From education to employment

The South Central Institute of Technology shows it means business signing top tech expert

Paul Gartside, Data Analyst/Coach and Curriculum Innovator, The South Central Institute of Technology

The South Central Institute of Technology (IoT) has pulled off a major recruitment coup in appointing Paul Gartside to the team, former Vice President for Engineering at software giants, McAfee.

A former student at Milton Keynes College, Paul is taking up a new role at the IoT as a Data Analyst/Coach and Curriculum Innovator.

He says, “This is a big step for me. I’m not a teacher and I know I’ll have a lot to learn in that area but I’m incredibly excited to be involved and can’t wait to get started with the learners. When I was at McAfee, I started an outreach programme involving teaching kids to code in a CoderDojo, bringing in interns and engaging with community tech projects as a means to encourage the internal Engineering community into having a mindset of giving something back. I also invested a lot of time mentoring my own and other teams globally and I have to say it’s the part of my job I found the most fulfilling so in some ways this seems like a natural progression.”

Paul strongly supports the IoT’s commitment to diversity which includes achieving a fifty-fifty female to male student body. He says the key to getting more girls and women involved in tech is to reach them while they’re young. “The tech world is already much more diverse than many industries when it comes to ethnicity,” he says. “The people working at my McAfee site spoke twenty-seven languages but it’s a very different story when it comes to gender. When you work with younger children of primary school age and teach them to code they have no perception of a gender divide. If you can normalise the idea that working in tech is something girls and boys can do the girls will stick with it.”

Paul draws much inspiration for this approach from his experience with the major Indian tech hub in Bangalore. “It might seem unlikely to us,” he says, “but in Bangalore, India’s most important city for technology and innovation, there isn’t an issue of gender division in the workplace and they’re reaping the benefits. When the state decided they wanted to create a tech hot spot they built eighty tech colleges to create that pipeline and that’s an investment which has been repaid hundreds of times over. I want to see Milton Keynes become one of the most innovative places in the country with new tech businesses springing up everywhere and that’s what the IoT is for, to make it happen.”

Paul grew up near Newport Pagnell and admits he is not a natural academic in the conventional sense. He took a BTEC National Diploma in computing at Milton Keynes College and found this suited his learning preference. On graduation he went straight to work through a number of Tech companies becoming a Vice President at McAfee in his mid-thirties.

“Milton Keynes College set me on my way and I want young people to realise as I did that university isn’t the only route to success. I’ve employed many Engineers and they all had the skills and knowledge the company needed in technical terms, but if all your hires have the same learning experience then you risk a lack of diversity of thinking. If you’re looking for innovation you need a variety of inputs. If you have a spread of people from different educational backgrounds, genders, ethnicities etc., you’ll get more variety and more creativity in your outcomes.”

Apprentices have the potential to add a whole new dimension to the workforce. In my experience that first year someone comes into the business from education can be one of the most valuable. They ask simple questions about things more experienced staff have taken for granted for years and that makes people think whether there actually might be a better way of doing things. It’s not until someone asks you why you do something in a particular way that you actually question it yourself.”

While Paul was at McAfee, he created the cybersecurity exhibition at Bletchley Park. Paul demonstrated the exhibition to HRH the Duchess of Cambridge at the official opening of the refurbished site. It was towards the end of the 5 year exhibition he was introduced to Milton Keynes College Principal, Dr Julie Mills OBE, who told him about the plans for the IoT. “I knew McAfee needed to be involved and the company is one of the anchor partners in the project with the likes of Microsoft and KPMG. I didn’t expect to end up on the staff but I’m thrilled that I have done.”

IoT Principal, Alex Warner says,

“Paul’s appointment is a real feather in our caps bringing such knowledge, experience and profile as he does, but he won’t be the last. We are committed to recruiting many staff members who come from industry and can impart that real-world experience to the students. The combination of these dual professionals and some really fine experienced teachers will make the IoT such an exciting and innovative place to study. We’re over the moon to have recruited him and can’t wait to see what other inspirational figures join him here.”

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