Careers: Interviews
Anne Miller: Top-ranked Education Thought Leader; Education Marketing Manager Cisco Systems

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., DF/NPA, MVP, CNP has an exclusive interview with Anne Miller.

Anne MillerAs education marketing manager, Anne Miller is responsible for all educational programs at Cisco Systems Canada Co. and for the Networking Academy program in Canada.

With her extensive knowledge of nationally-focused education programs, Anne Miller contributes to Cisco's highly successful performance strategy. Under her direction, Cisco Canada launched the Networking Academy program in June 1998. The Cisco Networking Academy program is in its' 10th year.

Anne Miller joined Cisco in December 1997. She has over 24 years of management experience in information technology sales and marketing. Prior to joining Cisco, Ms. Miller held various positions with a number of high tech companies including Digital Equipment of Canada, AES Data and Crowntek.

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
http://blogs.technet.com/cdnitmanagers/

Index and links to Questions
Q1   From your remarkable past history, please share your general insights on IT.
Q2   Tell us more about your current role and your greatest challenge.
Q3   What is the Cisco Network Academy Program?
Q4   Please share some stories and the resulting lessons from your work in Education.
Q5   How does your work link to government, business, industry, media, and internationally?
Q6   What are major challenges facing ICT faculty?
Q7   How can ICT professionals get involved in making a difference and how can they make contributions?
Q8   In your current role, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions? How does this relate to business?
Q9   What are the five biggest issues facing society as it relates to education, and what are your recommendations for meeting these challenges?

DISCUSSION:

OPENING COMMENT: Anne, you have so many significant contributions to the industry and the educational community over a multi-faceted and very successful career. We thank you for taking the time to share your deep insights, experiences, and wisdom with our audience.

A: It is my pleasure.

Q1: From your remarkable past history, please share your general insights on IT.

A: The Information Technology industry has certainly broadened its base to include all industry segments (technology is not just in technology companies - it is used everywhere in governments, financial institutions, education, small to medium businesses, music and entertainment etc). In other words, technology is the enabler to communications and we see the ubiquitous adoption of voice, video at the fingertips of today's youth. Today, IT departments are stronger than ever before, supporting the technical and business operations of all companies.

Q2: Tell us more about your current role and your greatest challenge.

A: My role as a Manager continues to evolve. From launching the Cisco Networking Academy program in Canada 10 years ago the biggest challenge is to continually educate and update the marketplace, (K-12 through Post Secondary institutions, policy makers, Ministers of Education), about this unique IT training program and the many benefits it brings to today's students and communities across Canada.

Q3: What is the Cisco Network Academy Program?

A: Cisco is an enabler. Many years ago, Cisco partnered with educators to create a pedagogically sound on-line skills-based curriculum to train teachers and students on how networks were designed, built and managed. Actual hands-on skills in the classroom, state-of-the-art assessment mechanisms built into the content provide students and teachers with instant results and allow the learner to improve their understanding of the topic. This reinforces learning with great success. Teachers and students develop the technical skills and knowledge about how the internet and computers work. This continues today, and on a broader scale.

Today, we offer 18 IT-related courses that are available in classrooms around the country - teaching students about entry, mid to advanced level IT skills all that map to Industry-recognized certifications (A+, CCENT, CCNA, CCNP, Wireless and Security).

Q4: Please share some stories and the resulting lessons from your work in Education.

A: We have found many champions in education - Teachers, Principals, Directors of Education, Superintendents, Ministers of Education, Economic Development. They recognize that technology is an enabler and a tool; and most importantly, that partnering with Industry is a good thing because it helps teachers and students keep up-to-date with technology.

Over the past 10 years we have developed many, many success stories of how our Networking Academy program has impacted the lives of Canadian students. From high school students, adults taking continuing education, to students in post-secondary, to First Nations students learning in remote communities - it is all about access to these specialized IT training programs.

Cisco Canada has also been a proud sponsor of the Skills Canada organization. Skilled trades (IT trades are included in the competitions) are badly needed in Canada and around the world. Cisco Corporate is also a sponsor of the World Skills organization. www.worldskills.org, www.skillscanada.com

Q5: How does your work link to government, business, industry, media, and internationally?

A: As I indicated above, in today's world we are all linked together. Communications is heightened through the use of technology. All of Canada's provinces are interested in economic development and education. Partnerships with Industry, government and education are critical.

Q6: What are major challenges facing ICT faculty?

A: My personal response here is ICT faculty are operating with reduced budgets and don't seem to be able to keep up with changing technology and costs of equipment.

Q7: How can ICT professionals get involved in making a difference and how can they make contributions?

A: ICT professionals can volunteer at their local schools, become a mentor to students, and talk about the various careers one can have that involves ICT.

Q8: In your current role, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions? How does this relate to business?

A:

  • Challenge one: Perception. IT careers are technical. Job market is not good.

    Solution: Industry needs to speak out to the increasing demand of professionals in all areas. In IT and non-IT organizations technology is prevalent everywhere. There are careers in business operations, program management, sales, technical engineering, marketing, public relations, communications, legal, accounting, Advanced Services, so many to list.

    Through the assistance of organizations such as CIPS, the sector councils, Skills Canada organization we hope to get the message out.

  • Challenge two: Our business partners in Canada are looking for IT tech-savvy students with business acumen and soft skills needed to drive their business.

    Solution: They are looking at the students coming out of post secondary institutions with diplomas/degrees and Industry Certifications that they need to hit the ground running. Canadian organizations know that they must invest in people, skills and training. Learning is continual.

  • Challenge three: Today's students need to be aware that building a career is just that. You build step-by-step. Each position will require different skills that you can develop over time.

    Solution: Students should do their research on the type of company they would like to work for. Transferable skills are really important to communicate to the prospective employer. How can you help them solve their problems?

  • Challenge four: Today we are all facing the fact that a good percentage of our teachers, professors are going to retire soon. We need to assist in building up the profile of Academic Instructors - they are key to promoting learning and the desire to learn.

    Solution: Ministers of Education, Boards of Education in each province should promote teaching as an exciting career.

Q9: What are the five biggest issues facing society as it relates to education, and what are your recommendations for meeting these challenges?

A:

  • Issue 1: Approx 75% of today's students do not go on to post secondary institutions. Those who do pursue post secondary educations -50% of them drop out within the first year.

    Recommendation: By promoting hands-on learning (learning by doing), we have found that it encourages students to become engaged with their learning path. Once students learn a skill (like carpentry, or fixing computers) they realize that there are career paths available to them and they want to learn more.

  • Issue 2: Today's guidance counselors, teachers and students in high schools need to become more familiar with careers in Information Technology (other than becoming an engineer) and the skilled trades.

    Recommendation: Invite your local businesses into the classroom to speak about careers in their industry. Reach out to guidance counselors to provide them with more information on careers. Take your students in elementary school to the Provincial skills competitions held annually in your province.

  • Issue 3: Students for the last 25 years have become used to technology as a tool. We still aren't using many tools in the teaching practice in the classroom.

    Recommendation: Ensure that new teachers are taught in Teachers College to use technology in new ways of learning. Promote student led teaching in the classroom, use the top students to teach and guide others in the class.

  • Issue 4: Education budgets have declined.

    Recommendation: Increase education spending on technology, and trades, and increase new learning methodology and teaching practices that adopt new innovative ways of learning.

  • Issue 5: Careers are rapidly changing. There are jobs that exist today that did not exist 10 years ago. This will continue. The biggest growth area today in Canada is within the Small to Medium businesses area.

    Recommendation: Learning is key to your future. Work for an entrepreneurial SMB focused company, take business courses.

CLOSING COMMENT: Anne, we thank you for sharing your time with us and we will follow your work in the educational community with interest.

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