A career in technology wasn’t Stacey Halsall-Peart’s first choice. The chief operating officer of Advanced Integrated Sytems said she initially wished to become a pilot. However, that dream was no more after she was told on career day that she would be too short.
“Looking back, I don’t think the disappointment after being discouraged was that devastating, so maybe it wasn’t a passion after all,” Halsall-Peart said. She does, however, believe her passion for technology grew in university. “When I was in university, I was the only person in the dorm who had a laptop. Laptops in those days were heavy, so there was no real mobility as we have now with the lighter versions,” she shared. “Everyone would therefore come to my room to do their assignments instead of having to go to the school’s computer lab. If they needed to enhance the aesthetics of their projects, I was the go-to person.” Helping people in this way, while simultaneously witnessing the impact of technology, was the turning point for her. She then decided that this area of study was the one for her.
Thinking logically and methodically are traits Halsall-Peart believes women posses which are perfect for information and communications technology (ICT). However, she wishes to not actively encourage women to seek careers in this field, as she believes that women now are successfully doing it all. “At the moment, women are making such great strides in every facet of life and career. Visit any university on this side of the world, and the greater percentage of attendees are women,” Stacey voiced. She believes women will naturally add significant value to any industry that requires critical thinking.
She goes further to advise any woman with aspirations of working in the ICT industry: “Generally, when we think of technology, we naturally picture computers and programming, but that’s not the extent of ICT. It’s not even the sexy part of it. Almost every facet of our lives revolves around technology now, which has broadened the field — think outside the ‘bits’ and find an aspect of ICT that makes you feel good about waking up in the morning.”
There’s no hiding the fact that COVID has set the world back in so many ways. However, Halsall-Peart believes that the goal of having ICT integrated into all facets of life and industry, and also for the majority of Jamaicans to be ICT literate by 2030, is possible. “I believe this generation of homeschoolers that have signed into class every morning and learned will now view technology differently,” she expounded. “It will no longer be something that they use casually for inconsequential things, but a tool vital for everyday life.”
She trusts that the new embrace of technology will bring us much closer to our goals than we could ever imagine, based on the recognition of how much more we can do with technology, and how it has been featured in our everyday life since the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Halsall-Peart could advise our Government, it would be to focus on our children. Even though COVID has helped in this aspect, she believes that ICT should be made an integral part of their curriculum from early. “We have some bright minds yearning for the opportunity to shine, and we owe it to them to help them achieve just that,” she said.