ACS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and, while I haven’t been a member quite that long, I can boast four decades of membership over a career that saw me enter the industry in the mainframe era, move into mini computers and then into the world of personal computers.
Today I'm working as a board director and tech investor in the age of the cloud, the internet and open source systems.
This is part of the journey ACS has taken with me.
When I joined the society in the 1970s, it was a small, select group of a few that has grown to where it's now mainstream and leading public policy.
As with all generational change, the question is how we maintain leadership in rapidly changing industry.
I often say to fellow members that the key to longevity in this industry is to always stay relevant and keep looking to the future.
The same applies to ACS as an organisation.
As my career shows, the computer industry has evolved beyond recognition in recent decades and the challenge is for ACS to stay relevant.
Today, the computer technologies we use are pervasive and underpin our daily lives.
The ubiquity and importance of tech to society is a great opportunity for ACS to provide leadership across industry sectors and society.
My recent experience as a mentor on the ACS' TV series River Pitch underscored the sector’s changes.
It was a privilege to help some exciting start-ups developing new industries and see how their keen young founders were excited to be a part of what ACS is doing.
So ACS’ targeting of start-ups through the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne labs and the RiverPitch program is a great start.
I have had the opportunity to present to ACS Congress a couple of times over the last few years -- back in February 2016 when the new strategy was being developed, and more recently in April this year, looking at the evolving needs of the organisation.
I was asked by members of Congress as to where I saw opportunities for ACS.
We shouldn’t overlook the roles of the ACS’ traditional membership – the programmers and coders in established industries such as banking, telco and the public sectors.
These jobs and industries are undergoing massive technological and structural change forcing ACS to keep its relevance with a much more changed workforce.
But I do think there are further opportunities to engage the developer and engineer communities, as well as take our voice more broadly to the Australian public.
Artificial technology, robotics and connected devices are rapidly changing the workforce and fields like cyber security offering great potential for Australia, so it’s important we have a professional body that gives a voice to the sector and lets governments and wider society hear its voice.
There is a great opportunity for ACS to take a greater role in Canberra and the Federal policy debate, being that trusted adviser to government.
In my mind, another big opportunity for ACS is to simplify the governance model.
We have seen great progress at ACS over the past three years - to fulfil ACS’ potential there is a great opportunity to simplify both our structures and message.
I would like to congratulate ACS President Yohan Ramasundara and the National Congress for their commitment in taking the necessary steps to streamline the governance model.
At a time when institutions, including the tech industry, are struggling to keep the nation’s trust, ACS can take the front seat in rebuilding the community’s faith in the sector and its role in providing the jobs that keep Australia prosperous.