“Venture Centre is definitely fostering a new outlook in Tauranga; helping to create a city that isn’t so risk averse; one that is more technology oriented; and they are pulling Tauranga forward and opening its eyes to what’s possible. You can’t mandate change, but you can lead it, and that’s what Venture Centre does for Tauranga.”
My name is Alvin, I am an engineer working for a global company (from Tauranga) and a local volunteer, and this is my Venture Centre story. I first came to Tauranga about fifteen years ago as
an ICT graduate and there were few opportunities for coding.
And so, I worked for a kiwifruit company, originally packing fruit before they discovered my computer skills and regularly promoted me, eventually to the position of Production Manager. From there I moved into ICT training for another kiwifruit organisation just down the road. After that, I went overseas for a time and it was there that I discovered my tutoring skills (oddly in teaching English, not ICT, but that’s another story), and I found that I was particularly good at helping young people learn new things.
When I came back to Tauranga about five years ago, the local coding job market still hadn’t moved on, and so I decided to pivot my career and start studying again (this time in systems engineering).
It was while at school that this whirlwind called Pascale visited and asked our class if we would be willing to volunteer to help with CodeClub (a kids coding holiday programme) at Venture Centre.
Why not, I said and so my journey with Venture Centre began. After that I got involved with Start Up Weekend and slowly but surely, I became ingrained in the Venture Centre networks and community. So much so that three quarters of the people I now know professionally in Tauranga are through Venture Centre – in fact, my first engineering job in Tauranga was also with people that I had met through them!
The crazy good thing about my Venture Centre journey is that some of the kids I tutored in the Code Club and CodeBrite programmes are now involved with the STEM tutoring that I’m doing. These kids (now teens) rocked up to STEM and thought I might not recognise them, but not so. It’s great to see that the investment made in them via Venture Centre has led to a long-term interest in coding. And these kids are so talented and they’re exceptionally good – they are doing coding on a STEM App that is world class and it leaves me amazed at their talent.
As well as extending my networks professionally, volunteering for Venture Centre gave me new skills and confidence, and improved my interpersonal communication skills too. For me, ICT is very structured and it’s refreshing working with entrepreneurial people who think and work differently to me.
I think it’s exciting to see Tauranga realise that technology can be used to help build communities. Kudos to you Venture Centre because you’re making this happen.