ACS congratulates Johnny Serrano, winner of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) 2021 President’s Award.

“Receiving this award has been humbling because of what it represents in our industry,” he told Information Age.

“I’ve been quite fortunate to make a living out of what I do and obviously it’s given me a lot of success.

“So for me, it’s very important that I always give back and help others wherever I can.”

When he was a young child, Johnny’s family moved from El Salvador to Australia to flee a decade-long civil war and start a whole new life.

Growing up in Townsville, Johnny was closely connected with First Nations communities throughout school and has maintained a drive to improve digital literacy for all Australians.

Johnny has been involved with See IT Be IT, a joint program between ACS, the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF) and Substation33 to source second-hand devices for First Nations people in Queensland.

For Johnny, programs like See IT Be IT are about opening the door for more people to have successful careers in the technology industry.

“Innovation comes out of diversity,” he told Information Age. “We have some of the best talent here in Australia and it’s about harnessing that and getting it out there.”

Johnny has proven the power of diversity for innovation. As Chief Digital Office for geo-safety company Groundprobe, Johnny regularly features in CIO 50 – a list of Australia’s most recognised heads of IT – and chalks his success up to a diverse company culture.

As Australia looks to meet tech talent shortages, Johnny thinks all organisations should look to bring more people into the IT fold and aim to raise digital skills across the population, not only for the next generation.

“We still have a lot of people in Australia who need to be skilled up. I don’t think digital literacy is not as high as it could be, in general,” he said.

“The next generation already have many of these skills, but I think the generation prior is at risk of being left out.

“If we’re going to transition the workforce, I think we should be looking at some older Australians, maybe those who are semi-retired and want to get back into the workforce.”

ACS President Dr Nick Tate said Johnny demonstrates the society’s values and was a deserving winner of the award.

“I congratulate Johnny Serrano as the 2021 ACS President’s Award winner and commend him for his efforts to improve IT professionalism and diversity,” he said