Name: Claudia Johnston
Designation: Education Sector Lead
Company: Microsoft South Africa
What do you do every day? I work with customers and partners to promote Microsoft in education. This includes assisting academic institutions to improve teaching and learning by leveraging technology in the classroom and on campus. The Microsoft in education business model is primarily delivered through its Authorized Education Resellers so a lot of my time is spent with these partners to ensure they are empowered and supported whilst they work with the end user.
I have a core internal team that assists me with this including some folk who are professional teachers and others who are more commercially focused. We have a balanced scorecard for education in Microsoft South Africa that I am responsible for which includes metrics around revenue, share, partner enablement and customer deployments.
I spend a fair amount of time in meetings orchestrating and co-ordinating all the resources at my disposal to ensure that Microsoft is successful in its vision of helping to transform education in South Africa.
How did you get into the tech space? My dad worked for IBM and I was lucky enough to be one of the first kids on my block to touch a personal computer. I started with very simple programming in BASIC (not Visual Basic) and playing PC Games using only the keyboard to manipulate very simple graphics on the screen. I eventually went on to study Information Technology and started in the internal IT department at IBM doing mainframe programming.
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes”… as a young IT professional, I tended to be a little arrogant and unforgiving and my inter-personal skills were not great. After stumbling a few times, a good friend and mentor gave me this simple advice and I still use it every day. It so easy to judge, complain and look for fault if you only ever selfishly look at things from your own perspective – you can learn so much by put another pair of glasses on.
What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? After you’ve done your formal studying, try and start in an internal IT so you can get an understanding of what roles are available in IT and what the business needs from IT. This will give you the solid foundation you need to go into so many different directions of your choosing later on.
What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Beating the Joburg traffic is a big motivation! But over and above that – I feel I have one of the most meaningful and strategic roles at Microsoft. I get to directly influence learning and teaching in South Africa and that gives me the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful people. I hear incredible stories almost daily that give me so much hope and faith in the future of our beautiful country.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? Well I’m kind of grown up already and am happy with exactly where I am.