Monday, 30 August 2021 16:24

Part 1 of 4: IT execs share the best pieces of advice Dad gave them and its impact in honour of Father's Day 2021 Featured

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Earlier this year, iTWire ran articles celebrating International Women's Day and Mother's Day, celebrating female leaders and entrepreneurs, and sharing the best advice received from mums respectively, and we're doing the same for fathers and men this September and November, starting with Father's Day 2021.

Back in March, iTWire ran an article celebrating International Women's Day 2021 and in early May, we ran an article celebrating the best pieces of advice tech execs received from their mothers, and the impacts thereof in honour of Mother's Day, and so we're doing the same for Father's Day this Sunday, September 5, too!

We'll also have an article celebrating male leaders and entrepreneurs for International Men's Day on Friday, November 19, in mid-November, but Father's Day comes first, so we'll start there. 

There have been so many responses that this article is part one, with part two published here now, and part three now published here, as well as a new Part 4, with all three articles to be linked to the other.

We put out a call stating it would be great to hear from fathers, along with men and women in the world of tech regarding fathers, and we asked the questions below. Note - Father’s Day is still several days away, so if you’re in IT and would like to make a contribution, you still can - send it to editor (at) iTWire dot com, and we can have a part three to this series.

Here are the questions:

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

Question 2 was asked “if you are a father” because I was leaving the option open, in the spirit of inclusivity, for women, and men who aren’t fathers, or fathers yet, to reflect on lessons their fathers had taught them, or lessons they had learned from other fathers, but only fathers responded, which seems to be the most appropriate thing for Father’s Day anyway - but I didn’t want to leave anyone out if they wanted to make a contribution.

With Question 6, I didn't get a chance to ask this question of the other respondents, however, the questions offered up are good for our own reflection, and we can answer all of these questions for ourselves. I can also ask them for Mother's Day and Father's Day 2022!

I also asked the respondents to feel free to answer as many or as few of the questions as they wanted, and as noted, this article has been split into two parts because of the volume and quality of responses.

In part one, we are hearing from the following IT executives and fathers, in first name alphabetic order:

1. Andrew Huntley, Regional Sales Director – ANZ and Pacific Islands, Barracuda
2. Brad Drysdale, Field CTO APAC - Kong
3. Budd Ilic, ANZ Regional Director – Government, Zscaler
4. Brendan Maree, Vice President Asia Pacific, 8x8
5. Christian Lucarelli, Vice President Asia Pacific at Nintex 
6. Craig Somerville, Managing Director and CEO, Somerville 
7. Daniel Harding, Director – Australia Operations, MaxContact
8. Glen Maloney, ANZ Regional Sales Manager at ExtraHop
9. Matt Seadon, GM APAC, Achievers
10. Simon Howe, Vice President Sales Asia Pacific, LogRhythm
11. Terry Smagh, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, BlackLine
12. Tim Jackson, Managing Director, Access4
13. Will Barrera, Leader – Regional Sales Asia Pacific and Japan, ThousandEyes
14. Will Drysdale, APAC Sales Manager, ActiveCampaign 

So, let's get started!

Feel free to answer as many or as few of the questions, and please make suggestions on how you think this could be a better article. 

1. Andrew Huntley, Regional Sales Director – ANZ and Pacific Islands, Barracuda

  

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

My father taught me that you should stick to your principles but to also respect other people’s opinions; we may not always agree but you can learn from others who have had different life experiences.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Patience is something you learn when being a parent; the power of patience can never be underestimated as a cool head helps you deal calmly and rationally with day-to-day issues.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Working from home effectively requires discipline as you juggle the work life balance. The COVID pandemic has increased the stress of maintaining that work life balance with more family members being at home for longer periods. During the periods of lockdown with two children home schooling and my wife a nurse and an essential worker I had to deal with keeping my son and daughter focussed on schooling plus managing my team. This takes discipline and a cool head.

It’s even more important to schedule your days and weeks ahead of time but also have an off switch for work when it becomes 100% family time.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

I wouldn’t say technology has helped me be a better father but what it has enabled and given our family is the tools to deal with working and schooling from home. The ability to schedule and manage screen time for my two children has been crucial and a key driver to get them away from the screen and outside doing other activities as local guidelines permit.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

I know technology will keep evolving because the one constant in our industry is change and it’s just a desire for keeping pace with the forms of technology used by society, so children are not adversely influenced or left behind. I think cybersecurity awareness must become part of the school curriculum, this is not a technology barrier but a policy decision.

The children at school are often more tech savvy than parents and giving the children these cybersecurity awareness skills at school will ultimately help influence what goes on at home.

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

This is an article about being a father but in addition to that we also need to be aware of men’s mental health, I think a key part of that is having some off time or some “man time”

What are other fathers doing to ensure they have some “man time”? I try and get to play golf with mates when local guidelines permit.

2. Brad Drysdale, Field CTO APAC - Kong

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

My father was always very hard working, as far as I can remember. As a sole trader or as part of a small business, his financial rewards were often very tightly linked to the amount of work and hours of work that he got done. Yet, he always found a way to make sure he worked around us, rather than fathering around his work.

I was one of three children, and when we were all of school age and Mum was back at work herself, Dad found creative ways to bring more of the business activities to the house so that he could be there when we got home from school. It included evicting the cars from the garage and using that space to build shelving and storage for products so he could work from there in the afternoon.

I always felt he was present, in the moment, with us and (looking back at this through the lens of being a father myself) sharing the load with my mother, which I think is very important. Lessons learned would be to be an active parent, be present, do your best to be engaged (which I know is so difficult these days when we all look at our screens too often) and to take the time to just be a parent and nothing else. Those are the moments that matter the most (to us as our children) and which we will carry with us through life for far longer than moments at work.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

My levels of patience, endurance and determination have been tested and strengthened. Fatherhood is tough, no one will deny that, and kids will test you and stretch you in directions you never thought your body or sanity would survive. But you do survive, and you become a better person through being a better father.

I’ve learned to be more patient, to prioritise my time better so that I remain an actively engaged father, and that’s given me endurance and determination to do more of it – all in the face of a very busy life. I can apply lots of these skills in the world of IT and business because I work with customers, many of whom are demanding and require my attention.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Well, spending a lot more time at home is a big change. No more offices to go to and parts of where I live going into lockdowns every now and then has meant far fewer face-to-face meetings with clients and practically zero domestic and international travel for over a year now.

Thankfully, my kids are still attending daycare three days a week (which wasn’t closed during the latest COVID outbreak), so there’s still enough separation between family and work life to make the juggling act achievable. Looking back on the effects COVID has had on family life, I think the most positive outcome is being able to see more of the kids and spend more time with them, however much juggling is involved. I’ve learned to partner better with my wife as we juggle a busy home that is also a workplace for both parents. Thankfully, our “bad” days never coincided, so the load was always carried somehow.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

I would start by saying don’t let technology make you a lazy father. Oh my, how easy it is to let Peppa Pig, Bluey or some other character occupy their time. And there is absolutely a role for screens to give you a break from parenting. Just don’t let it become the norm, and some character on a TV or a screen somewhere becomes the de facto parent. There’s a balance to be had, and I do get how hard that is, and how attractive it sometimes is to just let them use tech probably more than they should on a day-to-day basis.

I also think that tech is changing the way kids learn. When I went to school, the only screen I had was a small calculator readout and (in high school), some Apple II hardware. These days (especially whilst COVID is around and remote learning is standard), technology plays a much bigger role in how kids learn and how they interact. So embrace it, just with a healthy sense of balance and care.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

More interactive learning. It’s coming, and I’m seeing nascent examples of it today, but given the importance of remote learning in the face of COVID and given how pervasive technology is in the classroom, I can see a day when technology and data play a bigger role in customised learning, intelligent personalisation of the learning experience, and rich measurement of an individual child’s performance and progress.

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

  • How do you manage the balance between screen time and non-screen time?
  • What worries you most about an ever-increasing digital and online presence of your kids?
  • Tech introduces all sorts of new risks, but can also help prevent them. What are your thoughts around this?

3. Budd Ilic, ANZ Regional Director – Government, Zscaler

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

Like most people I have learnt many positive lessons and values from my father. Some of the key values being honesty, integrity, respect, kindness and to treat others how you want to be treated. These have all helped shape me into the person I am and have helped me get to where I am today. There have also been other lessons which have helped me in my career such as believing in myself, working hard, being passionate about what I do and doing the best I can irrespective of what the job is or how trivial the task is. My father did have one other big lesson that he reiterated in my teenage years which was choose your friends wisely.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Some key lessons fatherhood has taught me is responsibility, taking ownership of your actions and it's ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. The other lesson is helping others achieve what they want to achieve. As a father it is no longer just about focusing on yourself and your partner if you are in a relationship but more so on focusing on helping your kids become the adults you would like them to become.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Covid has obviously significantly reduced the amount of travel that we do to and from the office as well as interstate and international travel for work. Technologies such as video conferencing ensure we can still meet and talk to the people we need too in order to perform our jobs. As a result we get the opportunity to spend more quality time with the family. Interestingly however, the work load for me has increased working from home and it is mentally very taxing when you have back to back Zoom or Teams calls with few breaks and little opportunity to interact with other work colleagues or friends socially.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

I don't feel tech has helped me in any particular way to be a better father. If anything it has created further challenges in the always connected society that we live in today. It makes it very difficult to disconnect and to focus on the family. We really have to focus and be disciplined in order to not be continually on a device responding to work related matters.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

I would like to see technology be able to help us disconnect from always being connected and help with quality time we spend with the family.

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

In the always connected society that we live in today how are you ensuring that technology does not negatively impact the quality time that you spend with your family? 

4. Brendan Maree, Vice President Asia Pacific, 8x8

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

My Dad has always believed you can be whatever you want to be as long as you apply yourself. Leading by example, he was a computer programmer, teacher, managing director of De Beers diamond fields in Southwest Africa and working on the coal to petrol project for SASOL.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Lead by example, never ask anyone to achieve a task you would not be comfortable performing and treat every person, employee, customer or prospect with the way you wish to be treated. That does not mean just be nice, but to also be firm when guidance and discipline is needed.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

I have mentioned this to many people including my family, if Covid happened a decade ago we would all be in trouble. The fact we could work and family could speak with family via video (such as 8x8 meetings) meant the human “touch” was still somewhat possible. The added benefit of Covid has been nothing but positive in regards to fatherhood. Having travelled around 35-42 weeks a year and all of a sudden not to travel, meant I could actually be present for my three kids during their developing pre and teenage years.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

It has allowed me to perform different work tasks, such as admin outside of “normal” business hours and be able to help with the odd maths question, a bit of geography and take walks with our two Labradors, Millie and Marshall.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

Be able to ensure my kids perform their daily tasks without parent intervention and implement a rewards program whereby their phones, social media and online games would simply not function. That means no tension, arguments and unnecessary negotiations – ultimately, time saved to focus on those maths questions!

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

Do you believe COVID has brought your family closer, adding the given that we are all tested, get on each other nerves, but are still having a good laugh.

5. Christian Lucarelli, Vice President Asia Pacific at Nintex

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

Two things my father taught me that have stood me in good stead are the value of having a strong work ethic, and celebrating the success of others rather than only focusing on my own achievements.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

As a dad with two boys under two, I’ve realised how structure can bring some normality to the day. For me personally, having objectives and structure at work means I can execute effectively and successfully. Fatherhood has also highlighted how important it is to stop and focus.

There can be an overwhelming amount of things vying for our attention at any given time, with technology being a major distraction. Forcing myself to stop and be present helps me to give my boys undivided attention when they need it, thereby prioritising their development and wellbeing. The same applies to work – providing undivided attention to our customers and to the people who make up our teams benefits these relationships in a big way.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Juggling is definitely the right word to use, but in a positive way. I feel very fortunate to work in the technology industry as we’ve been able to sustain our outputs and productivity while working from home during the pandemic. And it’s been a privilege to be around my children as much as I have in the first two years of their lives. On the flipside of that, while technology has enabled businesses to survive―and thrive―during the pandemic, it does require a conscious effort to switch off and give attention to the family. 

6. Craig Somerville, Managing Director and CEO, Somerville

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

My father left school and home at 13 after a very rough early life. Living in a boys hostel, he started work in the spare parts department of a Holden Dealer in Wollongong, met and married my mother some years later and they became newsagents in Cammeray. There, they became active in the local business community and my father went on to become the president of the local Progress Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Scouts and a liberal alderman on North Sydney Council. A completely self-made individual, he closed out his career helping us with administration in the Somerville business.

Basically everything my father did was self-taught, he had a willingness to participate and hard work was no obstacle. In his early years, apparently he did not know which end of a hammer to pick up. He wasn’t very practical, but money was tight then, so as made a family, he learned carpentry and built most of the furniture that eventually filled our three bedroom house, and the quality was as good as you could find in any shop. A boatman, a fisherman, a Builder, a politician, a newsagent, an accountant, a dad!! Without formal education! Simple, honest and hard working!

What did I learn? You do what you have to do, with an open mind and rolled up sleeves. Thirty-eight years ago, we started as electrical contractors, and as the need arose we just grew into networking, systems, ISP, procurement, cloud and security. We look nothing like the electrical contractor of 1985. Hard work and a willingness to learn has been the foundation of my career. I’m not so sure about simple these days, but honest and hard working I’m proud to say I follow in his footsteps.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Being a father of four and step father of two (often called The Brady Bunch), fatherhood is a great leveller and a never ending lesson in many ways. You do the same thing six times (parenting) and get six completely different outcomes. It’s a journey in the development of emotional intelligence and empathy. The worlds of IT and business are all about people. All completely different, driven by a myriad of different motivations – perplexing at times! The better you understand people, the more effective you can be, regardless of whether they are customers, staff, suppliers, partners – or children.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

COVID has taught us to see the world differently. What never seemed possible turned out to be possible. We always had the technology to function as we currently are, we just never had the motivation or requirement to try. Using technology and driven by need (COVID), much has changed in the juggle of fatherhood, work and family. COVID has helped me to be more aware of the juggle between these competing forces and helped define priorities and the focus on my attention on the important things. 

7. Daniel Harding, Director – Australia Operations, MaxContact

 

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

I was taught by my father to treat people as equal and not based on title. That means treating everyone with the same level of respect. Another strong lesson was that of time keeping and respecting other people's time. This is something that I live by each day and I'm very much a fan of the quote "early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable!"

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Fatherhood has taught me to be more patient and understanding, especially when trying to explain something to someone who is just starting out, not everything can be done the right away. It has also taught me the value of planning and being organised... just ask anyone who has tried getting children ready and into a car when against the clock!

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

During periods of lockdown, it has resulted in myself working strange hours to fit in around home schooling as well. This has meant I've scheduled calls around assisting children and then spent more time in the evenings and early mornings to get admin tasks done, or essentially tasks that don't require me talking and having children in the background. I've spent more time focusing on organising tasks in applications such as ClickUp to get the best out of each day when it is not the usual hours.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

Using technology to plan and automate as many tasks as possible is the best way in assisting to be a better father. I personally want to spend as much time in the moment with my boys rather than through technology so if I can organise my personal and business life to assist then this is the best possible scenario for me.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

Automatic switch off as soon as it hears "Dad" being called for the second time in quick succession! In all honesty, technology can do so much already that I'm not sure how it could further help being a better father other than not being around so you can actually be the father your kids want. I know my best memories of childhood are doing fun things with my dad, not asking for his attention, and that's what I hope to do with my children.... although it can be difficult!

8. Glen Maloney, ANZ Regional Sales Manager at ExtraHop

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

We call him the Godfather of the IT Industry! I was fortunate enough to work under Rob Forsyth in my first role. Rob's work ethic was world class and he's played a significant role in helping shape the lives of many people in this wonderful industry, including Brad Anderston (VMware), Stuart WIlson (Imperva), Duncan Simpson (CSO) and Mark Maloney (ICT Networks).

Rob was honest, always showed integrity, and gave everyone a fair go. He built a culture that was used as a competitive advantage. I would love to replicate what he built at Sophos at ExtraHop. You won't meet a better bloke from the industry.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Patience, empathy and understanding. Negotiation skills, if you can negotiate an iPad back from an eight year old boy, you can negotiate with anyone in business.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Working from home isn't new to me. My kids are used to seeing me glued to my laptop or on my phone. If anything these lockdowns have made me want to have a break from technology.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

Embrace technology with them, play family games. We purchased a Nintendo Switch at the start of lockdown, it's amazing how quickly kids can learn something in a competitive, fun environment. These days my son flogs me in Mario Kart. I took him up on his offer of lessons the other night and it was remarkable how an eight year old explained to me what I needed to do to become better.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

I heard on a podcast the other day that technology is now the #1 addiction, not drinking, drugs or gambling. If anything my hope is that I can get better at controlling my use of technology.

9. Matt Seadon, GM APAC, Achievers

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

My dad had always invested in technology to support his business and it wasn’t until later in life that I realised that the trade he completed his apprenticeship in no longer existed but his company had thrived. Being open to invest in technology and adapting to change had been one reason the business had continued to flourish in times of change, that and some hard work along the way!

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Be thoughtful with words and specific when communicating especially when not face to face, for my kids “can you please empty the dishwasher” is very different to “can you please empty the dishwasher now.”

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

One of the biggest impacts has been the blurring of the lines between work and home. The commute from the office was the opportunity to unwind, make some calls and decompress before arriving home. Now that occurs in the 10 second walk from the home office to the kitchen and I’ve found I’ve missed that opportunity to decompress so I can be more focused on home life when at home. Strange to say but I think I miss the commute! But the benefits of more time to connect with my kids have been a huge benefit of the work from home orders.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

The camera in your phone is brilliant to capture moments to share with your kids as they get older! More is better and don’t delete the bad ones, they become the funny ones over time!

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

Technology can do an unbelievable number of positive things now but the rise of online bullying and how bullies can now enter the previous safe space of home is a concern for many parents.

10. Simon Howe, Vice President Sales Asia Pacific, LogRhythm

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

From an army family my Dad joined the Royal Navy at 17 and didn’t leave until he was 65. Nearly 50 years and one of the longest serving officers in the Navy of that era, he stuck with the Navy through good times and bad. Times are not always easy and “jumping ship”, literally in his case, was never an option. That loyalty is something I respect and try to emulate. And that has always served me well in my career.

Something else Dad still holds true to is the phrase “if you’re going to do something then do it well”. He was always focused on doing a good job whether that was at work managing missile targets off destroyers or fixing up my first car to keep it on the road. That attitude to quality and concern for the best outcome is another lesson I attribute to my father.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Well as I’m sure all Dads will tell you fatherhood is a humbling experience with no shortage of life lessons along the way. Top of my list would be ‘perspective’ and ‘the value of time’. Having kids entirely changes your outlook on life. You are no longer just looking out for yourself or a partner you are entirely responsible for the life and wellbeing of those children.

You better appreciate other points of view which is a valuable skill when navigating the interpersonal relationships and negotiations in a work environment. I’m not comparing work colleagues to kids but empathy and responsibility are valuable skills in the workplace.

I’m sure we all feel there are not enough hours in the day and that is even more so when you bring kids into the equation. Balancing work and family forces you to make the most of every minute and this flows through to efficiency and focus at work.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

Technology is both an enabler but also a challenge in the work-family balance. Today’s technology enables much more flexibility to balance work and family life. A huge benefit of tech today are the remote working tools which allow you to be more connected with family, both local and overseas. If I compare to when I was growing up. my dad was in the Navy and would be away for 12-18 months at a time with only written letters to keep in touch.

Today, remote working allows us to be home more, we get to attend more of the important events and milestones. And if we are away or travelling then we can be on live video calls or live streaming those important events at the drop of a hat. Covid has highlighted this even more. In the last year I have attended two weddings, one funeral and multiple birthdays in some kind of virtual or remote capacity.

Naturally, tech is helping many of us continue to work and study while in lockdown. Sure, the confined environment can be challenging but at least we are continuing to function thanks to those tools. This has its up and downs of course and as I write this its Monday morning and my son just came out of his room to say “my teacher can’t get the video working for school assembly. Does that mean no school today??”

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

I’m careful not to offer too much advice to other fathers beyond perhaps examples of mistakes I’ve made that others might avoid. I would love to find that miracle father who has it all worked out. That said, on the subject of technology in my opinion while there are dangers to too much screen-time, technology offers a world of opportunity for our kids to learn and connect with friends and family.

In cyber security myself I am extra cautious to teach the kids how to behave online and on social media to be safe and secure. But they are growing up in a digital world and I think we should embrace that and help them navigate the pitfalls.

11. Terry Smagh, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, BlackLine

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

Patience… this one word has helped me in making sound decisions. Being calm and collected, understanding the situation has been an excellent mantra as life grows on you. On a personal front, patience has allowed me to better see perspectives from other lenses – allowing me to value the advice/learnings of others and benefit from continuous learning. My father has always encouraged me to broaden my horizon by taking on new challenges, learning a new skill, reading from different genres.. all of this has provided a better 360 in my journey thus far.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Keep moving! The only constant is change.. the world of IT/Business is moving at lightning speed. In order to keep up, we need to continue to upskill and upgrade. Just like fatherhood, wholeheartedly adapt to changes. Adopt them with a growth mindset.. the only way forward to learning new things.. just as we grow up in life..

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

In every crisis, an opportunity exists. This unfortunate pandemic has caused much distress around the world… on my end, the silver lining has been the ability to work in the comforts of my home. Considering I travelled 200 days a year prior to C19, being grounded has given me a different perspective in terms of time and people. Modern tech especially in the space of automation has clearly been the game changer.

Having the ability to be flexible and efficient remotely just shows how automation has helped changed mindset. The modern office can now be anywhere. With that, I have been able to carve out dedicated time for my family. While there is an element of digital burnout, the fair balance needs to strike in and family time is the tonic for that.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

Our kids are growing up, if not already, in the world of digital. School curriculum already digitised, tablets instead of textbooks and social media being the avenue of content. Be with them in the journey, try not to police the process but rather engage, support and educate on the positives and the nuances of tech. Digital footprints, data protection/privacy – have conversations around this. And then used the numerous content across the world of internet – pick a documentary, a series, game and spend the quality time with them together.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

I once said I wish there was robot to clear their mess! And now there is.. slippery slope I say… Technology is evolving so quick.. the opportunities are endless, with AI and automation, innovations are occurring at lighting speed. The one thing I do hope that tech can help – stop burning the climate.. better use of energy so that we can protect the future generations…

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

How do we impart values to our kids without imposing our beliefs? As the world changes, allow us to be patient, seek to understand and hear our kids. When was the last time you allowed your kid to have an emotional conversation?

12. Tim Jackson, Managing Director, Access4

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

I think there were many lessons learnt from my father or others over the journey. The two that stand out are:

  1. You get back what you put in and hard work is required to excel at anything in life whether it be sport or business.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is so look a bit deeper!

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

I think parenting and leadership are very much aligned. Both entail a degree of empathy, coaching and tough decision making with all leading towards achieving the best outcome for individuals and the business or family.

Whether you are coaching your child or a team member through a challenge, it requires you to listen and understand what they need and how both of you can walk away satisfied. Doesn’t always work!

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

COVID has provided a huge amount of time to reflect on a lot of things. It’s also cleared out the social life so it really has been a focus on work and family over the past 18 months.

In the early stages of COVID I think everyone was doing zoom parties and it was something different, a bit of a novelty. Now, I think everyone is over it and craving for face to face contact. I do think access to technology has helped with keeping the kids connected with their friends which has made it easier to get through COVID. It doesn’t substitute for them having play dates like they used to but it’s reduced the isolation, in our family anyway.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

Not sure it’s anything ground breaking, but making sure the kids are safe on social platforms is always a major concern for me, plus ensuring we use tech in a positive way to improve mental and physical health. We do step challenges at work and at home so my daughters have fitbits and it gets competitive to see who can clock up the most amount of steps, which gets them (and me!) off the couch and either on the treadmill or out into fresh air. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing less exercise in lockdowns.
I certainly did during the first lockdown, but it’s not sustainable and I think you start to feel lethargic and less motivated if you don’t put the effort in.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

Having virtual catchups would be awesome if everyone could be displayed as their own hologram. Rather than huddling around a screen imagine having family catchups where every is sitting around the table!

Q6. Do you have some good questions you think should be asked of fathers that I can ask others also contributing to this article?

How do we encourage more kids to get into tech, especially girls through their schooling years. There is a massive skills shortage and an under-representation of girls and women in STEM so how do we as a generation of fathers and business leaders drive this to improve the gender balance and increase overall numbers in the next cohort of technologists?

13. Will Barrera, Leader – Regional Sales Asia Pacific and Japan, ThousandEyes

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

Be resilient, always try to persevere in whatever you do and respect others. My father migrated from Peru to Australia in the early 70’s. My mother was pregnant with me so she couldn’t travel with him. He was a dentist in Peru but his qualifications were not recognised here so he had to undertake additional studies to get certified. During that time he worked on the railroads as a labourer to live as well as save enough money to bring his family across.

For two years he was on his own without any support. He built up his practise and helped many people in the Peruvian community to get ahead and call Australia home. My father passed away when I was 19. However, the short time that I knew him has shaped the way I am today.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Expect the unexpected as your children will surprise you on a daily basis and you need to quickly adapt. I have two adult children and irrespective of their age, I'm always learning something new from them which makes life interesting. IT is the similar in the sense that it is always evolving, unpredictable and you never know what’s around the corner.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

As someone who used to constantly travel in my role pre COVID, I extensively used collaboration tools to communicate with my family. With COVID, this scenario has been reversed as I now use collaboration tools primarily for work and get to spend more time with my family. COVID has definitely brought families closer together.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

Leverage tech to empower your kids to make the right choices in life. Teach them how to research correctly, explore their ideas, have fun as well as communicate with other people respectfully. You cannot completely restrict your kids to what’s on the web as they will gain access to it outside the home.

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

Sometimes I wish there was a pause button.

14. Will Drysdale, APAC Sales Manager, ActiveCampaign

Q1. What lessons did you learn from your father, or the fathers of others in your life, that have helped you get to where you are today?

Good fortune will never be a replacement for hard work. Never compromise your integrity, morals or ethics in the interest of obtaining a result.

Q2. If you are a father, what lessons has fatherhood taught you that you've been able to apply to the world of IT and business?

Having recently become a first time father and having a now alarmingly mobile, one year old, a number of the lessons I've learnt are absolutely transferable.

  • Control the controllables, and do your best to anticipate and account for the uncontrollables - be ok with the fact that not everything will go to plan, but be ready to pivot and have options.
  • Patience is a virtue... there's no reasoning with a one year old.

Q3. How has the COVID crisis and modern technology shaped how you've had to juggle fatherhood, work and family?

This is a really interesting one, had the COVID crisis not happened, it would be unlikely that I'd have been able to spend so much time with my daughter in her first year. With the removal of travel and increasing adoption of digital communication platforms becoming the norm, it's meant I've been able to be there for a lot of the 'first's' that'd I'd otherwise most likely have missed, something I'm incredibly grateful for.

Q4. What advice do you have for other fathers on how tech has helped you to be a better father?

I'm probably in the camp of being a bit of an anxious parent. Some things that have really helped me have been some of the great tech around baby monitors with breathing and heart rate monitoring. This has meant I can actually get to sleep at night without having to check on my daughter every few minutes.

Adapting to a COVID world was a challenge as my partner and I were unable to attend any 'in person' classes, having these transition to online platforms was really helpful at a stressful time.

Finally, be careful introducing The Wiggles, unless you're prepared for them to become the soundtrack of your life!

Q5. What do you wish technology could do, but isn't yet doing, that could help you to be a better father?

I think most fathers would love to know "am I doing everything the right way?". Unfortunately, I don't think that ever becomes reality, as I don't think a single correct way actually exists. Technology advances have obviously had major impacts in the way that children are kept safe, learn and develop amongst many others. As far as what I'd love to see in the future... anything that enables me to have more time with my daughter, I am very onboard with.

Oh, if there's something out there that can help give our daughter have more than two hours of unbroken sleep... please reach out!

Part two of this Father's Day 2021 series can be read here, with part 3 now published here, and part 4 here too!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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