ACS congratulates Cynthia Lee on her President’s Award win for Q2, 2019.

We chat to Cynthia about how her IT career began, the developments she’s keeping an eye out on this year, and what the President’s Award means to her.

Information Age: Why and how did you get into tech?

Cynthia: I first experienced programming in high school and it gave me a huge rush of satisfaction to create an interactive "storybook". I have always greatly enjoyed solving problems, whether in maths, programming and now, in designing operating models. When you add technology to the elements of people, process and governance in organisations while trying to solve for the most efficient configuration to deliver a strategy, this is what I find intriguing. When I can add aspects of improving the diversity and inclusive culture of an organisation, that is what I truly love.

Information Age: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

As part of a national employee diversity & inclusion committee, I had the opportunity to work with a group of passionate and intelligent team members to develop and rollout multiple initiatives. These initiatives ranged from inclusive leadership training to implementing changes to BAU hiring processes. We covered a variety of diversity attributes including gender, seniority of job position, family status, culture and others. I learned from and was inspired by the people I met during my time as part of this committee.

Information Age: How has the industry changed since you started?

Cynthia: Technology isn't just the cost of doing business anymore but is also the way in which customers can interact with and be served by companies. It is revolutionising so many industries, enabling new business models, products and changing our perceptions and expectations of our world. The advancement of technology and its pervasiveness is what has enabled VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) to become the norm and also offers us some of the tools to navigate this new world. A basic understanding of technology is now fundamental to navigating our world, both as an organisation and as an individual in our day-to-day lives.

Information Age: Which areas of tech are you keeping an eye out for in 2020?

Cynthia: Machine learning and artificial intelligence. I am very keen to see how these technologies shape and change our world, as well as how our society shapes and directs them. The legal, moral and philosophical questions and debates need to happen sooner rather than later so that humans can intentionally direct the development of these technologies rather than letting it, and its widespread impact on our world, evolve by accident. The other consideration is how politics, power and human greed may try to influence this, as well as how we can limit its impact.

Information Age: What are your thoughts on being recognised with this ACS President’s Award? What does it mean to you?

Cynthia :This award is a validation of all the hard work I and my team, the Victorian Diversity & Inclusion Subcommittee, have invested over the years. We hope to equip and enable others to "convert the unconverted" and make a difference in their own lives, whether that is with their family, their immediate team members or their entire organisations. Not everyone is lucky enough to work with organisations that are willing to invest their resources in making the world more inclusive, so we aim to make some resources available to our members in general, such as materials to run your own unconscious bias training, including facilitator guides.