Dispelling the myth of the computer nerd
Tattoos, rock music and a hero to remote schools in Fiji - dispelling the
myth of the 'computer nerd'
Phillip Siegel, a 31 year old Palmerston
North-based drummer and father of
two working for infrastructure construction company Higgins, is not likely
to strike you as the type of 'computer nerd' you see portrayed on television
shows. Sporting a wolf tattoo and a love for rock music, he is living proof
that high-waist pants and geek-glasses are more likely to be found in the
wardrobe of a hipster, than on today's computer experts.
Like many New Zealanders, Phillip has
travelled the world. After returning
home to Palmerston North from the UK with his wife, he decided his time in
hospitality was up.
"I've always had a passion for
computers," says Phillip. "But I'm also a
tinkerer - pulling things apart to learn how they work. Whenever family
members have problems with their computers, I am their go-to guy," he says.
"So when we returned from the UK, I decided it was time to go after a career
doing something that I truly loved. It was time to get serious about
After completing his Diploma of
Systems Technology at national computer
training organisation, Computer Power Plus, Phillip landed a job for Higgins
Contractors back home in Palmerston North, something he attributed greatly
to the on-the-job experience he gained as part of his course.
Now, Phillip is a bit of a hero, using his 'computer powers' for good, and
helping those in less-fortunate circumstances.
2013, Higgins Contractors was awarded a contract for the
the roading network for the Western Division of the main island of Viti Levu
Fiji. When some company laptops became redundant in New Zealand, Phillip saw
the opportunity to make a difference in Fiji. He spent numerous hours of his
time rebuilding the old laptops and loaded them with educational programmes
for urban schools in Fiji, including the Yasawa Group of Islands.
The Yasawa Group of Islands have very little in
the way of shops, banks and
even medical services. The tourist industry is the main provider of work for
the local people.
"The arrival of the laptops to coastal
communities in Fiji has been met with
complete and abundant joy," says Phillip.
'You have been sent from
God', was the comment from the Director of
Volunteer Vinaka, the organisation that manages the distribution of
donations to the area.
"Rural schools in Fiji have
limited access to technology, but with this
initiative we're helping to bring them up to speed," says Phillip. "The
computer training I received through Computer Power Plus and the support of
Higgins Contractors meant that I could make a critical improvement to the
education of children in this area. I'm pretty stoked to see my hard work
pay off, and to give the rural schools a bit of a hand up," says Phillip.
Phillip's next move is to study IT
management and to enjoy his recent
relocation to a new home in central Palmerston North with his wife, Laura,
and their two children - four year old Ryleigh-Jean and two-and-a-half year
old Samuel James.