President’s Message – Q2 2017
How I Met Eugenia Culham
An Early Affection for Computers
When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I received an Atari 2600 videogame console as a gift. I quickly became a videogame enthusiast (that’s a nice word for addict) and developed an interested in creating my own games. When I was 15 years old I enrolled in my first computer course in high school. Shortly afterward I bought a home computer, learned the BASIC programming language and started developing simplistic games. It was then that I decided to focus my career in technology.
My First Computer Science Professor
When I finished high school, I enrolled at what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). My plan was to do a two-year diploma in Computer Science then transfer to Simon Fraser University (SFU) to complete my Bachelor of Science degree. Because the KPU Computer Science diploma was in its infancy, I had the same professor for a number of courses in the program. Her name was Eugenia Culham and it turns out she is still teaching Computer Science. I paid her a visit a couple of years ago to say thanks and to find out more.
Eugenia started at KPU in the Fall of 1982 developing and teaching all the Computer Science courses using Commodore Superpet computers and the Pascal programming language. That’s the same “technology stack” I learned on when I started at KPU. At the end of my first year, I was fortunate to be awarded the top Computer Science student at KPU and I received a scholarship, presented to me by Eugenia, which covered all of my second year costs. This was significant for me because I was paying for my university education.
I went on to transfer my two years at KPU to SFU and earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, a minor in Mathematics and a co-operative education certificate (i.e., I completed five work semesters for big companies in BC, Alberta and Ontario to help pay for school).
The Transition from Videogames to Information Technology
Following university, I worked for Aardvark Consulting for a year as a software developer, then joined SHL Systemhouse, an international systems integrator which eventually became HP and most recently DXC. I enjoyed my time as a coder but quickly transitioned into systems analysis, business analysis and project management. In 1997, I went out on my own as a freelance business analyst, project manager and management consultant and in 1998 I incorporated Annex Consulting Group Inc.
Growing Canada’s Tech Hubs
Eugenia still teaches eight Computer Science classes per year at KPU, including programming languages such as Java. She says to do well, students need good math skills for problem solving and good communication skills. In her 35 years as a Computer Science professor, Eugenia has taught over 8,000 students. I am grateful that she helped me to see my potential early in my life.
Thanks to Eugenia and others like her, Canada is developing world-class tech talent. Last summer, Expert Market published a list of the world’s best tech hubs. Toronto came in 3rd place, Montreal was 9th and Vancouver ranked 13th. We still have a lot of work to do, but the trend is positive.
In Annex’s next newsletter, I will write about the demand for information and communications technology (ICT) talent in Canada, the current supply shortage, solutions for bridging the gap, and how you can be an advocate for the Canadian ICT industry.
Founder, President & CEO
Annex Consulting Group Inc.
Stacey Cerniuk is the founder, President and CEO of Annex Consulting Group, an IT staff augmentation and outsourced solutions company with offices in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton. Annex is currently engaged in projects across Canada and the US. Call Stacey at 604.638.8883 to discuss how your IT resource needs can be met by Canadian talent.