So much of technology rests upon systems – the parameters of security networks in CCTVs and firewalls and antivirus programmes, or the outlines of connective networks through servers, cloud solutions, and workstations. Whenever you consider the paradigm of Information Technology, chances are there is some structural framework of hard technology upholding your environment.

And yet the human element weaves throughout this tapestry. How do you choose the ideal strength of your firewall? When does a cloud server serve your business better than an onsite server? Why in the world do software licenses make business sense? Through and through, human-led decisions define the philosophy of IT infrastructure, which explains why we emphasise so much on supporting our clients as people, before we dive into conversations around the technology they wield.

Earlier this week, we celebrated the graduation of our teammate Adelyn from ITE College West. Adelyn began with us as an intern and is now a cherished member of our fulltime crew. This week has been a particularly blistering one, and on the day of her graduation, we positively glowed through our collective perspiration.

Adelyn with her mentor Mr. Sheikh Fawazi

As we walked through the grounds of ITE College West with Adelyn and her mentor Mr. Sheikh Fawazi, we marvelled at the enjoyable spaces that gave students and staff room to roam, rest, and gather in groups. “At this age, many students don’t see the value of what they’re learning,” quipped Mr. Sheikh as we looked in on classrooms with chatty students and expressive teachers, “They think, ‘What does this have to do with me? How will I use this skill?’ And they don’t always pay attention.”

“But I have used what I learnt everyday in Computer Guys!” Adelyn mused, “Although at that time I didn’t know that it would be useful.”

Adelyn along the corridor of her school

Quality IT support is a fine balance between the seemingly archaic dinosaur technology and the breakneck innovations in hardware and software. When it comes to IT Security, many scoff at the legacy systems that date back a decade. “People will be surprised to know that there are tons of businesses still using these older systems, and it’s not just older CCTVs, it also includes servers and things,” Julian, Computer Guys’ CEO, pointed out as we stood inside an ongoing class, “And even if sometimes it’s best for businesses to refresh their IT environment regularly, not everyone is able or willing to do that at the moment – and we must be able to support our clients by understanding why is that, and how we can help them as people – not their machines.”

An open courtyard flanked by greenery

Peppered throughout our visit to ITE College West was the overriding importance of belief and action. “Through internships, ITE students can learn important skills,” Mr. Sheikh shared, and elaborated on his philosophy of giving his mentees space to grow. “Some people may think, if students cannot sit down and be quiet, write or read well, they cannot do anything, but this is not true. There is an ability in everyone that you must fish out, and you can only do this when you encourage them.”

Julian nodded vigorously at this. “I always believe everyone has a different ability,” he gestured toward Adelyn and Sam, another teammate who is often praised by clients, “I think for most people, when you give them trust to do their role, they will grow into the responsibilities, pick up the skills, and really take ownership of their areas.”

Mr. Sheikh Fawazi with Julian, CEO of Computer Guys

Strolling with Mr. Sheikh through the hospitality wing was eye-opening too. ITE College West boasts on a training kitchen with full facilities, a training cafe, a full-fledged restaurant, and even a hotel. For the students, learning means being immersed in the worlds they will inhabit when they pursue their future careers. As we headed towards the registration booth for the event it was heartening to see earnest students dressed in various hospitality garb going about their practical lessons. “Apprentices,” I whispered while taking in the white chef hats and black boots of a line of students walking past.

“Protégés,” Julian asserted, turning to me. I nodded in acquiescence. Protégés.

Adelyn with her bouquet of flowers

Adelyn’s graduation ceremony was held in a large hall, and excitement bubbled as graduates mingled with one another, excitedly taking selfies and exclaiming as they spotted their friends in the graduation gowns. “It’s so important to support our own people,” Julian contemplated as we watched Adelyn taking pictures with her friends, holding her bouquets in glee, “When our people feel that support we give them, then they will know what it means to support our clients as people too.”

“I want to take a picture with us too!” Adelyn called over from the backdrop detailing the graduation ceremony. “Of course,” we said, smilingly trooping over, “Let’s take a picture together.”

Julian, Adelyn and Sam at the graduation ceremony

Nora Fong

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