I’ve recently attended a couple of Well & Connected business networking events. Part of the networking involves a kind of storytelling speed networking session – the organisers give you a topic to discuss, you then get 2 minutes to discuss that topic with someone you’ve not met before, before moving onto the next unsuspecting person – this continues for about 20mins or so. As a networking concept, I quite liked the idea, not least of all it gives you the chance to introduce yourself to a stranger without worrying about what you’re going to talk about (plus you don’t need to interrupt anyone else’s conversations).
Anyway, the first time I attended (a couple of months ago) the topic for discussion was “what did you want to be when you grew up and did you achieve your dream”. It was interesting hearing about everyone’s childhood dreams and that very often than not they never came to fruition.
When it came to my “story” I realised that apart from wanting to be a journalist when I was at primary school I pretty much achieved my childhood dream: I wanted to work in computing. On the face of it, that sounds quite a wide descriptor for a career given that today “computing” takes in a whole host of disciplines, but remember this was back in the 80s when home computers loaded data from tape cassettes, had less on-board memory than today’s mobile phones and looked like this:
I still remember the day I received my first computer for my 11th birthday. It was a Commodore Vic-20. You loaded programmes off the aforementioned cassette deck, programmed it with Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) and even typed in programmes (written in BASIC) from the computer magazines of the day.
It was teaching myself to programme with BASIC (and playing video games) and owning this first computer that got me hooked on technology and gadgetry and I’ve not looked back since. And whilst, it was a career path not without it’s challenges (my school thought I wasn’t clever enough to work with computers, and should work in catering instead!) I’ve “worked” with “computers” in one guise or another ever since:
- In 1991 I graduated with a degree in Computer Science (in-spite of my school!)
- my first job was in the technical support team of a software company (Locomotive Software for anyone who remembers the Amstrad CPC word processors, Locomotive BASIC and Turnpike)
- In the mid-90s I joined an independent ISP called Demon Internet and helped it set up one of the first UK commercial web sales and support teams
- In the late-90s I set up one of the first network abuse teams in the UK, for Demon dealing with spam, Usenet abuse and general abuse of the internet by internet users.
- From 1999 – 2014 I worked in internet and telecommunications regulatory roles both in terms of internal compliance with regulators and industry bodies and working with the government and industry to influence internet regulation, as well as chairing industry bodies like the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) and UKCTA as well as serving on the board of the IWF and the Nominet Stakeholder Committee
- In 2008 I completed my Master of Laws degree in Computer and Communication Law
- In 2014 I started Flavourfy, my digital consultancy
What was your childhood dream? Did you achieve it?