AUCKLAND TECH GRAND TOUR
We wrapped up 2017 with an Auckland Tech Grand Tour of some of the biggest names in the local tech scene. Transport and lunch was provided for the female university and high school students that went on a whistle stop tour.
We left from the meet up point at AUT City Campus and heading to the first destination – Orion Health. Here the students had a introduction to the product cycle – from concept to creation (aka shippable product!) by Sherry Tung, Business Analyst at Orion. Sherry presented on how Orion Health refined and iterated ideas and concepts throughout the product cycle and talked about the challenges and innovations that occur along the way. Rounding off the session was a panel discussion with some of the brightest young women in Orion who shared stories of how they landed in the tech world.
After this the students all boarded the bus again and headed down the hill to Parnell and to the Xero office. They were greeted with lunch on arrival and a talk by Gareth Cronin, Executive General Manager – Partner Products. Gareth talked about diversity and inclusion not only being paramount for staff to flourish, but that it also produced stronger business outcomes and better reflected the diverse community of customers and partners Xero interacts with every day. This was then followed by a presentation from Ruth James, Happiness Engineer at Xero who talked about what Xero was actively doing to ensure they encourage and maintained a diverse and inclusive workplace for all their staff.
After this the group then jumped back on the bus again and heads down to Wynyard quarter and to the Air New Zealand Head Office. Here a team Product Owners, Developers and Quality Assurers introduced themselves and talked about their work. The group was then split into two smaller groups which consequently encouraging a more intimate conversation between the presenters and attendees. The Air New Zealand team talked to one team about Oscar, the Air New Zealand chatbot that used AI to help with customer queries.The other group had more of a ‘fireside chat’ about what it really looked like to work at Air New Zealand, encouraging questions from the floor. After about 30 min, each group swapped over.
It wasn’t long before the students were on the bus again and heading to their final destination of the tour, Trade Me. Here they were greeted by Grace Benedek Rooney, a Developer at Trade Me, who talked about what it is like to be a developer. Developers at Trade Me work in teams, use a variety of tools in order to deliver cool and useful products. She also talked about how as a developer, you get to help people in their lives without meeting them in person. Her example was about a student moving out of home. They can use Trade Me to find a flat, furnish the flat, find a job to support their studies and buy a car after saving their paychecks. For students wanting to find internships, Grace recommended the Summer of Tech programme which is how she landed her first roles in tech. Summer of Tech offers free training for students then connects them to organisations where they can work in a paid and meaningful role.
Having spent six and half hours on a whirlwind tour of some of New Zealand’s biggest and most successful tech companies it was time to head back to AUT and conclude what had been a highly successful event.