The cherry on the cake of Techweek: Frances Valintine inducted into Hi-Tech Hall of Fame

This week has been an unabashed celebration of all things tech, with Techweek ’17 showcasing the best and brightest in New Zealand’s tech space, and it was all capped off with a huge highlight. Last night Frances Valintine, founder of Tech Futures Lab and The Mind Lab by Unitec, was named the 2017 Hi-Tech Hall of Fame Flying Kiwi Award winner.

The award recognises her significant achievements in the tech and education space and her commitment to preparing the next generation for success. With great passion and humility, Frances joins the likes of Dr Catherine Mohr, Rod Drury and Sir William Gallagher. Congratulations Frances!

Celebrating the week we take a look back at what we've been up to, from covering the future of money, to taking a look at gender diversity, to asking how artificial intelligence can lift New Zealand to the world stage.

Monday: Where are all the jobs? Careers of today

We kicked the week off early Monday morning with our second Career 3.0 seminar, designed to give insight into how technology is re-shaping every sector and what this means for jobs and our careers.

Frances Valintine facilitated the seminar and got people thinking about the future of work. Will my career exist in 10 years? Am I really doing what I love? How can I accelerate my career? What do I need to know? Many of these questions circled back to some core themes: genuine and practical education is crucial, we need to step outside of our comfort zone, and the time is now.

Tuesday: No banks, no money and digital currencies? The future of money

The financial sector and the way we use money is undergoing radical change thanks to the likes of blockchain and peer-to-peer lending platforms. On Tuesday Frances joined Mandy Simpson and Leigh Flounders to discuss the topic as part of Kea’s Future Of Money panel.

During the panel the trio discussed cryptocurrencies and how countries such as India, China and the UK are heralding new modes of payments, insurance, loans and exchange. Mandy Simpson said fintech is now where the internet was in the mid-90s – undergoing significant change, unpredictable and ripe with opportunity.

Wednesday: Where are all of the women? Breaking stereotypes of women in tech

Mid-week we brought together a diverse and inspiring group of women to shed light on a different side of the tech industry: gender diversity, or lack thereof.

Introducing the topic, Tech Futures Lab General Manager Sarah Hindle shared some statistics

from PwC UK. According to recent research, only 3% of women select a career in technology as their first choice and women hold leadership positions only 5% of the time. Furthermore, a recent Deloitte report highlights that the rate of women graduating in computer science has dropped from 35% in 1985 to 18% in 2017.

Sharing candid tales, our panel proceeded to break the primary stereotypes that exist about women in tech as we covered hiking, extreme frisbee, gender neutrality, being a mother, the importance of supporting each other and speaking up, imposter syndrome, and how we keep learning with an open mind.

Thursday: Artifical Intelligence – how is it changing the way we connect and interact?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been dubbed one of the most game-changing technologies of our time, and it is undeniably re-shaping how we interact with businesses.

On Thursday Datacom hosted an event focused on customer engagement and the vast potential AI offers to us in New Zealand. Sarah Hindle, Tech Futures Lab General Manager, joined a panel of experts including Danny Tomsett, the CEO and co-founder of FaceMe, and Robert Bollard, the General Manager of IP Australia.

The panel discussed how to ensure ‘New Zealand has a voice in this brave new world of AI’ and how you can 'talk tech all you like but it's only useful if it delivers personalisation, relevance and efficiency'.

Friday: Self-driving cars, clever bots and rapid change – how are robots re-shaping our lives?

Finishing off the week with a bang was our Robotics and Automation panel and expo. Lifting the veil of buzzwords we took a closer look at the inner workings of robots, where the tech is headed and how it’s transforming a number of industries.

Our panel of experts shared their unique perspective on how humans and robots will work together in the future, the various use cases of automation and AI, and where New Zealand stands on the world stage.

Following the panel, attendees were able to witness the technology in action at our expo. With the impressive RMAX drone centre stage, we had robot arms, mind-powered remote controlled cars, fruit-picking machinery, radical warehousing tech, and a self-driving car simulation.

Techweek '17, that's a wrap!

Wrapping up with Frances’ Flying Kiwi Award it’s safe to say we've had an exciting week. It's amazing to meet some of New Zealand's most progressive, bold and innovative Kiwis and showcase the clever ways in which we're using tech in this country.


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Tech Futures Lab is an education facility of The Mind Lab, a NZQA registered Tertiary Education Organisation under the provisions of the Education Act 1989. Candidates who are studying on a programme delivered by Tech Futures Lab are enrolled with The Mind Lab.

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