“We live in a very dynamic world, which is always changing and being disrupted, so companies need to constantly innovate and invest in technology to compete.” – Patrick Shearman (Learning Facilitator, MBA Information Systems, Torrens)
It’s a much-used, old phrase, to say that, “change is the only constant.” And yet, for some of us, our lives demonstrate its truth, time and time again. Patrick Shearman has perhaps seen more change in his life than most.
Introducing MBA Information Systems Learning Facilitator, Patrick Shearman
Originally from Ireland, Patrick moved to London for study, and then across the other side of the world, to end up in Sydney, Australia. After multiple degrees and several careers, he’s now a learning facilitator at Torrens Business, where he teaches within the Master of Business Information Systems.
Early on, Patrick discovered a passion for I.T. and decided to make it his primary focus.
He’s seen a lot of new technologies come and go, during his time in the industry. Developing IT systems to better serve people has been the one thread of constancy throughout his diverse career.
“I like the constant change and complexity of IT, which is challenging. However the technology is secondary. The main thing I like about the work is people, and helping them to reach their potential. Hopefully at Torrens I can continue to do that with students.
Another aspect of technology I like is the inclusiveness of it, in helping people who may struggle to get jobs, for example, someone with a disability to work. The connectivity capability technology brings globally, and to friends and families, is also really important.”
Since he studied his Masters of Systems Analysis in London (not to mention a Masters of Software Engineering in Sydney!) he’s had a long and diverse career, spanning several industries and a range of positions.
What can a whole career spanning years working in information systems actually look like?
Of course, every career is different, but here’s Patrick’s story.
“When I graduated my first degree in Commerce, I left Ireland and took a job as a trainee System Programmer, with an investment fund management company in London. I then moved to a more programming role at the London stock exchange, for a company who were very good to me, and paid the fees for my master’s degree.
I then moved to a Systems Analyst role at a software company that developed investment management technology for financial organisations. I moved up to a Project Manager role during my time there.
After four and half years in that job I moved to Sydney, where I worked initially as a consultant on the development of the NSW State vehicle and drivers licensing systems. I was keen to move back to the financial sector, so I took a role as an Enterprise Architect at a large Funds Management company.
I left after another five years and moved to a more senior role as Chief Technology Officer for a large gaming and wagering company in NSW, where I worked for another three years. When they relocated, I was offered a Chief Information Officer role for a national health and life insurance company, where I stayed for over 11 years.”
A few paragraphs can never capture all the hours of hard work, all the challenges, triumphs, and late nights in the office that a career involves.
Through Patrick’s story, however, you do get a sense of the diverse roles that a career in information systems can bring, and where it may eventually lead you!
In his case, just before he began teaching at Torrens, he spent eleven years as a Chief Information Officer. This is the highest role that a person working in IT can have. As CIO, you’re one of the organisation’s senior executive leadership!
So, what does the role of CIO actually involve?
“A CIO will work with the other executives to ensure technology can help the organisation achieve its strategic goals, and can compete and thrive in its sector. Although it’s a technology role, it is important that a CIO has strong people skills, is good team player and has the ability to lead and manage complex change.
As a CIO, you really need to have a sense of empathy, and the ability to understand the broader picture of how an organisation works. Then, you’ll understand the organisations’ needs, and the needs of customers and staff, so you can be sure that your IT strategy is the right one for the organisation.”
After all his years of experience in senior positions, Patrick eventually decided it was time for yet another change.
He resigned from his CIO position and began studying a PhD at the University of Technology, on a topic that he is passionate about. Of course, it’s something that benefits people!
“My research topic is measuring the impact of technology and innovation on the well-being of aged care staff, particularly carers. My research suggests that if aged care organisations invest on technology that supports carer well-being, then it increases the level of ‘affective’ commitment of care staff.”
It was a desire to teach while completing his PhD that eventually led Patrick to his position at Torrens.
“I have always wanted to teach and work at a university. I am about to complete my PhD and was offered the job here at Torrens, where I can hopefully use my experience and skills to help students achieve their goals.”
Patrick has spent years working with companies to develop information technology systems. He’s worked on systems in everything from public health to gaming and financial investment.
There are few people better qualified in the world to explain why exactly I.T. matters.
“Technology is always changing, and businesses need to invest in appropriate technology so that they can survive, compete and thrive in their sector. There are many examples of companies who are no longer around due to poor strategy and lack of investment in technology, for example, Kodak.
Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, big data and quantum computing, to name a few, are transforming the world. Organisations will need to embrace these new technologies as they arrive, in a way that enable them to grow.”
Are you inspired to have a career in information systems, too?
Or if you need more information about what Business Information Systems is, then click here to watch a video featuring Patrick and Lin who is the BIS Program Director.
If you enrol in Sydney, Patrick may even end up being your teacher! So, what final advice does he have for any aspiring IS students?
“Read the assignment questions carefully. Don’t be shy speak up in class or contact your lecturer if you need help. In terms of career chose a role that you enjoy and meets your purpose. Develop your confidence so that you believe in yourself and your ability.”