Most people don’t know a lot about Datacom. New Zealand’s largest tech firm has been around since 1965. In Taranaki, they provide outsourced IT services to organisations ranging from councils to healthcare providers, to small retailers. They are also one of the fastest-growing employers in our Taranaki tech sector.
Regional Sales Manager David Benson started with Datacom in July 2021. Since then the Taranaki Office has grown from 13 people on the service desk to 24 people at the end of 2021. Locally, Datacom’s goal is to grow to 40 people by December 2022, something that aligns with their vision to grow their offering in the region.
David believes that it is possible to have a varied and exciting IT career in Taranaki and that living in a region is no barrier. That, and a fabulous lifestyle are great reasons to come here. He notes that “I don’t think people believe there are opportunities to grow in the region, but there are. People are migrating for work, and our Datacom executives are asking why we aren’t doing more in Taranaki? “
There’s scope for the IT sector in the region to do more collaboratively. Datacom is working with their clients and other IT firms to do more with the community in order to grow awareness of IT career opportunities for youth and career changers. David’s team also hopes to get involved in community events like Hackathons and bring leading digital thinkers to Taranaki.
Why is IT a career change option?
Datacom supports people new to the IT sector, whether that is someone who is newly qualified or those looking for a career change. The pandemic has helped shift employers’ mentality and increasingly smart employers recognise that people with the right skills can make a great field engineer or project manager.
“Give me a call” is David’s advice if people want a career change, he also recommends using LinkedIn, and video as a tool to connect “it’s a great way to showcase your people skills”. David also advises those wanting to look at training in IT to contact Simon Singh at Leaner Me, “they offer some great courses that are relevant to the sector”, and have local connections can often open doors beyond the classroom too.
Employee Profile – Zoey Penwarden from Teacher to Field Engineer
One person who gave Datacom a call is Zoey Penwarden. Zoey describes herself as a go-getter and a risk-taker who’s unafraid to try something new. She is one of Datacom’s field services engineers, but until the middle of 2021, she was an intermediate school teacher. Originally from South Africa, she moved to New Zealand 15 years ago and trained as a teacher - a role she loved. However, Zoey is always open to new possibilities and as she reflected back on her work-life, a common thread emerged:
"I've always had a passion for digital technology and computers especially. Back 20 something years ago, I used to work for a lawyer as a conveyancing secretary. I worked there for about seven or eight years, and just naturally became a network administrator. Back in those days, it was just swapping ethernet cables, and repairing computers was nothing compared to what it is now. It's always just naturally been with me. So, when I studied at university to be a teacher, I took the ICT route."
There were skills in teaching that were applicable to working in IT, such as being able to communicate effectively with different types of people, and time management. Teachers are lifelong learners too, and this is equally as helpful in the fast-paced IT environment. Zoey also does a podcast in her spare time, something that requires digital skills.
For people wanting to change careers, Zoey advises getting professional support. She worked with Michelle Corono of Purpose Careers. Michelle helped her confirm that she wanted to work in the digital sector, and the two of them put together a CV.
"Michelle was awesome at talking with me about not about the skills that I have… She took all those skills and was able to put it onto paper."
Working at Datacom has made Zoey realise there’s a world for careers in the digital sector people could be tapping into and there could be more links between education and the digital sector:
"There are so many job opportunities out there… it's just mind-blowing to see the career paths within digital technology. You know, we teach a bit of coding, and we think that's great. Or, we teach a bit of computational thinking or computer science, but we're just really touching the surface."
Zoey’s determined to learn as much as possible, she’s embraced Datacom’s in-house culture of learning and has signed up for as many micro-credentials as she can get her hands on. With so much on offer, Zoey’s unsure where her new career might go, but she can see that there’s a world of opportunity and possibility ahead thanks to her determination and dedication and that it will be an exciting future in tech in Taranaki.