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Life Changing Programme Gets Company-X Backing

Company-X backed many good causes in its first decade in business. Co-founders and directors Jeremy Hughes and David Hallett share their favourites.

A life-changing programme designed to attract secondary school pupils into careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is again backed by software specialist Company-X.

Hamilton Girls’ High School is welcoming the Company-X team back into the classroom through Smart Waikato’s award-winning Secondary School Employer Partnership. Company-X aims to inspire Girls’ High pupils to smash stereotypes and consider careers in the male dominated STEM subjects.

Women only make up 20 per cent of the workforce in technology-related industries, according to Auckland University of Technology Women In Tech.

Thirty-eight Girls’ High pupils will also spend time in the Company-X office, meet more team members and get first-hand experience with mixed reality technologies.

Reseller News Women in Information and Communications Technology finalist Rachel Primrose led the initiative before the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching three lessons for two Year 10 classes with her colleague Karen Moore. It followed years working of the software specialist working with Hamilton Boys’ High School pupils through the initiative.

“We're excited to continue our partnership with Smart Waikato and the SSEP programme this year,” said Moore.

SSEP provides a “real world’ application of the curriculum and exposes students to a wide range of career opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. SSEP is a framework adapted to fit each school’s Kaupapa, curriculum and local industries. Companies work across a whole cohort of students at secondary school.

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“It's always fantastic to have the opportunity to encourage students to immerse themselves into a STEM related pathway especially within the tech sector,” Moore said.

Moore is joined in the initiative this year by Company-X software developer and former Wintec lecturer Mark Nikora.

“I am fortunate to be working alongside some extremely talented women,” Nikora said.

“So, one of my goals for this engagement would be to share that perspective with students as a vision of what they can become.”

Smart Waikato Chief Executive Mary Jensen said SSEP transforms the way students learn by showing them how their subjects apply in a workplace setting.

“Thousands of students involved in SSEP have told us having business people in their school and visiting workplaces has impacted their engagement, achievement and future aspirations. More than 80 percent of 2909 surveyed say it has helped them understand why they are studying the subject, with 75 percent saying it’s made them more interested in the subject. As well, 76 percent of the students say it has influenced their feelings about what they could achieve.”

SSEP also has a positive impact on teaching staff, with 96 percent of teacher respondents saying the real-life context offered by employers in the subject area supports their professional development, Mary said.

“It’s wonderful to see both students and teachers sharing ‘light bulb moments’ when they discover a new way about what they are learning or teaching applies outside of the classroom. It’s a powerful and transformative.”

Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes described the initiative as a personal favourite as it shifted perception from geeky to creativity, inventiveness, and problem-solving.

The team recalls excited feedback from a previous session. “That was so cool,” one of the Girls’ High pupils told Primrose and Moore.

“It completely revised my understanding of what software development is about and I'm just so excited. That's what I'm going to do.”

“That was just gold,” said Hughes.

“We changed the life of at least one girl. We supported the initiative to attract more women into technology related careers. Women in tech talk about what an immense struggle it was. How they had to deal with pre-built perceptions of women doing these things as they were training.”

Fellow Company-X co-founder and director David Hallett said more girls had told their teacher they were interested in STEM careers after hearing from Company-X.

“We reached them at the right stage at the right time and certainly got them thinking about it. And a cohort voiced their desire to their teacher that's what they wanted to do,” Hallett said.

“That was a cool outcome. I was happy with that. We wanted to do something about women being underrepresented in the technology workforce.”

The programme aligns with the Cultivate Trust’s Tech in the Tron initiative launched last year to grow the Waikato’s tech sector by 500 skilled workers.

Cultivate Trust is a collective of private businesses, education providers, and public entities, including Company-X, who are enthusiastic about growing the Waikato technology ecosystem.

“Our goal is to relocate 500 skilled workers to technology companies in the Waikato,” said Cultivate Trust Chair and Soda Chief Executive Erin Wansbrough. “Not just in the core competencies but also talent necessary to support roles like communications, human relations, and marketing, wherever the jobs are.”

Hallett described the buzz that Tech In The Tron had created as exciting.

“We're seeing results, attracting skilled workers, but also attracting people into the sector.”

About Company-X

Company-X’s reputation is built on designing and building tools that help clients make evidence-based decisions.

The software specialist is renowned for creating web portals that consolidate asset, financial and other statistical information from a range of sources to provide insights into performance.

Company-X supports clients to improve the quality of business-critical data for effective decision making.

Expertise includes mixed reality and emerging technology.

Company-X builds highly skilled, tightly knit, self-managed, and co-located teams. It’s analysts, architects, designers, developers, testers, and project managers stay with projects from beginning to end and deliver software quickly.

Clients include New Zealand government agencies and a US based big tech company.

Co-founded by directors David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes, Company-X is celebrating a decade of business in 2023.

Company-X ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ Asia Pacific, a list of the fastest-growing technology companies in the Asia Pacific region, in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Company-X has won many awards:

  • Company-X won an ExportNZ Top Tech Companies of 2022 award.
  • Company-X won the Best Professional Service Innovation Award in the Hamilton Central Business Association Central Business District Awards 2021
  • Company-X software quality assurance tester Jes Elliott won the Reseller News Women in ICT (Information and Communication Technology) 2021 Rising Star Award.
  • The Independent Software Vendor Award at the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 for state-of-the-art software that turns text into human-like audio files at a fraction of the cost of booking a voice artist, recording studio and sound engineer.
  • The Independent Software Vendor Award at the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019 for a hands-free auditing application developed for AsureQuality.
  • The Service Excellence and Global Operator awards at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards in 2018.
  • The Services Exporter of the Year category at the Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards 2017.
  • The Homegrown Innovators Independent Software Vendors Award at the Reseller News ICT Industry Awards 2017.
  • The Roading Asset Management Innovation Award at the Road Infrastructure Management Forum in 2017 for the One Network Road Classification P

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