Maggie Morrison, Director, Public Sector Scotland, CGI

Written by Alan Robertson on 7 December 2015 in Feature

For 100 days, Connect is running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Maggie Morrison (@maggi_morrison)

Job Title/Organisation: Director, Public Sector Scotland, CGI

What does your role involve?

I run the public sector team for CGI in Scotland. We work with the public sector to explore ways in which digital technology can be used to deliver services more efficiently and to give citizens more options to access them.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

The skills gap and the gender Issue is a huge challenge. Digital employment is increasing at almost twice the rate of other sectors in Scotland and yet thousands of highly paid, highly skilled vacancies remain unfilled every year. This inhibits the growth of Scottish companies and also affects our ability to compete in the global economy.

We need to invest more to ensure we build a skills base where Scotland becomes a net exporter of IT talent. A lack of digital skills also holds back the most disadvantaged people in society. If they can’t create a CV online it makes getting a job more difficult. If you cannot connect to other people through email or social media it can increase the feeling of isolation for those who live alone. And experts reckon that it costs people who are unable to pay bills or shop online an additional £560 every year.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

I chose IT as a career when it wasn’t very fashionable for women. The industry has given me a rich and fulfilling career that has taken me all over the world. The most rewarding aspect was making a difference to peoples’ lives through digital technology.It can help every sector of society.

I have set up IT training academies in disadvantaged city areas with not-for-profit organisations and it was amazing to see how digital skills made a difference to peoples’ lives and expectations. Right now, I am most excited by the opportunities available for modern apprentices working with Skills Development Scotland and the renewed respect for work-based learning offering multiple entry points to the industry.

CGI is very proud to support existing Modern Apprenticeship schemes and we also became the first company to sign up to the new degree level MA programme announced by the First Minister at the National Economic Forum in November.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

Everyone has to work together - government, industry, public, private and third sector, schools, colleges and universities. We have to promote the fabulous careers available in IT and more work needs to be done around diversity in general and gender specifically. It is shocking that by the age of 12 girls have decided IT is for boys and that we have fewer young women studying science, technology, engineering and maths than when I entered the industry 32 years ago.

Scotland has a proud history of innovation in STEM and that has to continue. Economic prosperity for Scotland has to be anchored in an international, high skilled, successful economy.

Which new technology excites you the most?

The potential of the Internet of Things is very exciting. Simply put, anything that can be connected will be, including people. Some estimates suggest that over 100 billion devices will be connected by 2020.

This will transform everything from health and social care, transport, maintenance of airplanes, oil rigs, bridges, buildings - changing the way we work and lead our lives. CGI is very active in the smart cities arena and this will be equally applicable in rural areas.

What's your favourite app and why?

I love Twitter. The first thing I do every morning is make a cup of tea and spend around 15 minutes having a look at what is going on – politics, thought leaders and general gossip. A bit of “me time” before I start the working day.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

We cannot ignore cyber security, which is now one of the biggest global challenges. Governments, companies and individuals need to understand the possible risks to public safety or their business and how best to keep ahead of the threats.

A 21st century organisation needs to be confident that they operate securely. Citizens and customers want assurance that their personal data is secure. If not, hard-earned trust and customer confidence can vanish in an instant.

To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, CGI protects against 43 million sophisticated attack incidents per day. We also have to take personal responsibility for our own personal cyber security. By using strong passwords, the most up-to-date virus protection software and being aware of phishing emails we can avoid 80 per cent of the most common attacks.

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