Member Spotlight – Dr Warren Williams

A huge mihi to our featured member – Dr Warren Williams for sharing his journey in Te Ao Matihiko. Scroll down below whanau to read more about his journey!

Patai 1 – Where are you from & what do you do?

He uri ahau no Ngai Tūhoe, me Waikato. I tipu ake au i Tūranganui-a-Kiwa ēngari e noho ana au i Kirikiriroa. Born and raised in Gisborne, but I live in Hamilton with my wife. My iwi and hapū are Tūhoe and Te Urewera, and Waikato and Ngāti Māhanga. I am the Chief Executive for 20/20 Trust where we partner with local communities to deliver digital inclusion programmes across Aotearoa New Zealand. We deliver to range of communities and groups including Māori, Pasifika, Seniors/Kaumātua, disabled persons, refugees, migrants, and more.I’m also on a number of governance boards and advisory groups across various sectors like technology, digital equity, education, research, science and innovation, rangatahi/youth (STEMM), library and information, and regional economic development.

Patai 2 – How did you get into your mahi?

I have always sought out kaupapa that support at least one of three areas – Māori, education, and technology. My interest has been in technology from a young age (arcade games or ‘spacies’ back in the day), and I understand the significant benefits that the combination of these three areas can bring to communities, families and individuals.After doing a computer science degree at Waikato university (majored in AI which is has come full circle now) I did a few jobs in adult and tertiary education, as well a technology-type jobs. My roles have always embraced the three areas above and I’m fortunate to see communities and people grow because of them. I’ve gained experience over the years working in management and senior leadership roles in tertiary education, iwi and hapū research and development, regional economic development, small business, and community-level initiatives. Also exposed to international environments has given me a greater appreciation and understanding of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s place in the world.

Patai 3 – What advice would you give to other Māori looking for a career in digital & tech?

  1. Bring your identity and culture with you in all your digital and tech spaces. Whether online or in person, people support people and when values align, you will always have support. Cultural perspective and appreciation of other cultures is important if you want to be a global citizen in the digital/tech space. The tech sector is realising that culture is key too.
  2. Always support other Māori (and other indigenous peoples) to advance. You can make a difference in someone else’s life by showing a way forward or creating an opportunity for them like connecting with other influential people or helping Māori into decision-making positions. The world is small and that one person you help could well be your boss, or business partner, in the future. Also, as Māori we always make connections somehow, either by whakapapa, by location, by school, by sport or just by country, we will find a way of knowing each other.
  3. Hone your craft but also be open to learning new things. Becoming better at what you do can actually be positively influenced by something you know nothing about, so be open to learning new things and build up your ‘kete’ or ‘toolbox’ of skills and knowledge.
  4. Don’t be afraid to change jobs and sectors. Moving into different jobs and sectors grows your understanding and perspectives of the world. Work overseas if you are able to as those different cultural environments help your perspectives too.
  5. Bring your knowledge and skills to benefit your whānau and/or hapū-iwi. Small things like being that IT person to help the kaumatua connect to the wifi, is always appreciated. Or you may have a really innovative idea for others – give it a try.

Patai 4 – What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on or, what piece of mahi are you most proud of?

No one single project for me but in general, bringing technology-related programmes to Māori and communities with kaupapa focused people. I’ve been lucky to work in online environments and face to face delivery of technology programmes over the years. One thing that makes it work is having great people who are focused on the kaupapa. I am proud of the mahi that 20/20 Trust brings to communities across Aotearoa New Zealand. Seeing people successfully graduate from their programme and watching their whānau and friends celebrate with them, is the best part of my job. Hearing stories of how kaumātua and Pasifika elders say they can connect with the kids and grandchildren overseas, is awesome to hear. Connection to family is so important when everyone is busy and living away from each other. Building teams of people who support kaupapa like these is what I’m most proud of.

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