Name: Angela Schaerer
Designation: Academic Programme Manager
Company: Microsoft South Africa
What do you do every day? My role at Microsoft entails building collaborative partnerships with the Department of Basic Education, both nationally and provincially, as well as working with schools, teachers and other education stakeholders to provide support in meeting South Africa’s education priorities. Our focus is not on the technology per se, but rather providing thought leadership and professional development for teachers and school leaders on rethinking approaches to teaching and learning so that our youth are given opportunities to develop the types of skills that will make them successful citizens, employees and entrepreneurs. On a daily basis, I may be meeting with partners or education officials, facilitating presentations or workshops, co-ordinating pilots and programmes being implemented in various schools and provinces, and creating platforms for principals and teachers to share best practice.
How did you get into the tech space? I fell into the tech space! I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Pietermaritzburg followed by a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) having only really used technology to type assignments (slowly) and send smses as the proud owner of one of the first Nokia phones. After teaching for a few years in South Africa and the UK, I decided to do my Honours in Publishing at WITS and while studying, took on an editing role at Learnthings Africa (a digital curriculum content provider) to practice my skills. I ended up creating a training department for the company to support teachers in effectively using the digital content and technology to enhance teaching and learning. Through this I had the opportunity to work with ministries of Education and teachers in both rural and urban schools in numerous countries across Africa. This offered a unique opportunity to understand the challenges and benefits in the implementation of technology in schools.
In 2006 I joined Microsoft as part of the Education team. (I have not worked in the publishing industry although see exciting opportunities in this space as technology in schools becomes more ubiquitous and access to digital material and learning becomes more accessible.)
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Follow your passion and trust your intuition. My work is not a job – it is part of who I am and brings meaning to my life by providing a platform to contribute positively towards society.
What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Advances in technology are exponential! And the possibilities of how technology can help to improve the lives of South Africans are endless. I think the key to being successful in the tech sector is a commitment to continuous learning. It is important to keep abreast of emerging trends and technologies – I do this using platforms like twitter and blogs as well as attending conferences and networking with people in the industry.
What motivates you to get out of bed every day? A good cup of coffee and a morning run. Microsoft is a busy, vibrant environment with passionate people and a commitment to delivering valuable solutions for customers – working in this space is nergizing and inspiring.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? A mother, a life-long learner, a traveller, and maybe one day a business owner.