Alex Ewing has always been a trailblazer. When his military career was cut short by a medical condition, the travel-mad Scotsman was propelled into new frontiers, using the setback as a launchpad into the burgeoning IT sector.
It was the ’90s – Dolly the Sheep was about to be cloned, The Simpsons had burst onto our TV screens and the internet was just getting started. Always quick to spot an opportunity, Alex enrolled in a computer course. While 11 of the 15-strong class dropped out before the finish line, Alex was hooked, going on to complete a Bachelor's in Network Technology and a Master’s in Applied Material Technology.
It was a shrewd move, enabling Alex to carve an exciting global career that combined his two great loves – technology and travel. His remarkable 21-year IT journey has seen him travel to 45 countries, living in six of them and working across a diverse range of projects. He excelled in server support for BNZ and Toll, and secured a host of lucrative contracts with global IT providers like HP and Johnson & Johnson. He has shared his expertise in tertiary institutions all over the world, including a stint in Saudi Arabia, where he was HOD for a college of 2000 students, and now here at Yoobee Colleges where he is Head of Faculty and an ICT lecturer.
While Alex’s career achievements have been numerous, he says the projects that have ignited the greatest pride have been the ones with the steepest learning curves.
“The migration from one live database to a newer platform introduced loads of challenges, and the hardware/software challenges of migrating 120 servers to a central reporting system was fun.”
And then there’re the students.
“Of the twenty-one years I’ve worked in IT, fourteen have been in education. I love it because you change people’s lives. On the surface this may seem corny, but I’ve had a number of ex-students who’ve told me that their IT studies got them into rewarding careers and were quite literally life-changing. I once had an ex-student come up with his son and enrol him in my course. Four years earlier he didn’t have a job, and now he holds an Honours degree in Computing. I’d like to think I helped with that.”
Alex says the key to success is passion – and a relentless desire to learn.
“For me that passion is hardware, and with the advent of Quantum computing it’s a great place to be. I can’t get a D-Wave 2000Q just yet, so I tinker with HPCCs and Pi clusters. I also love 3D printing which is progressing well, and I believe it’s the next massive thing, especially with medical applications.
“You need a passion for your subject, and you need to be open to trying new things. Things change so fast in IT, so you have to constantly upskill to stay ahead. Jobs, like money, come and go. It’s only by challenging yourself into new systems and processes that you really thrive, as it allows you to solve problems and expand your knowledge.”
There’s no denying that for those with the smarts, the opportunities are vast.
“Your future is only governed by your willingness to learn. We’re surrounded by IT and every person interacts with a computer at some point every day. With the advent of artificial intelligence and cloud migration, there has never been such demand for talented IT professionals.”
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