An Exclusive Interview with Dame Wendy Hall
Professor Dame Wendy Hall: DBE FREng Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton in England; President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM); Distinguished, Celebrated, World-Renowned Computer Scientist
Interview by Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP, DF/NPA, CNP
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Dame Wendy Hall, DBE, FREng is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK. She was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) from 2002 to 2007. Professor Dame Wendy Hall was appointed DBE (Dame Wendy Hall) in the New Year 2009 Honours List, one of only six, for outstanding services to science and technology.
One of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research in multimedia and hypermedia, she has been at its forefront ever since. The influence of her work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and the emerging research discipline of Web Science.
Her current research includes applications of the Semantic Web and exploring the interface between the life sciences and the physical sciences. She is a Founding Director, along with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Nigel Shadbolt and Daniel J. Weitzner, of the Web Science Research Initiative.
In addition to playing a prominent role in the development of her subject, she also helps shape science and engineering policy and education. Through her leadership roles on national and international bodies, she has shattered many glass ceilings, readily deploying her position on numerous national and international bodies to promote the role of women in SET, and acting as an important role model for others.
She has recently been elected President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and is the first person from outside North America to hold this position.
Until July 2008, she was Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is currently a member of the UK Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology, and is a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. She was President of the British Computer Society (2003-4) and an EPSRC Senior Research Fellow from 1996 to 2002.
For more information on Dame Wendy Hall: http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/wh/biography.php
News article on DBE appointment:
Selected Interview Excerpts
Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Dame Wendy Hall shares her thoughts on the extraordinary honour of knighthood bestowed upon her.
You continue to make significant historical contributions. How will your new status contribute to your vision for the world, society, industry, academia, and technology?
"....I think it will enable me to continue but at a higher level possibly in terms of policy...."
What do you see as the three top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....People don't understand the impact that computers have on the world....In the developed world the number of people who are attracted to study science and engineering is falling all the time...Reaching out and saying to women that this is a world you need to be part of....."
Increasingly there is attention being given to IT as a profession with recognized professional certification, adherence to a code of ethics, demonstrated professional development and alignment with a body of knowledge and best practices. These concepts are encapsulated in IT Professionalism. Can you share your views on IT Professionalism?
"....Being an IT professional takes training and we should have a code of ethics and professional practice just like any other profession...."
[Editor's note: The UN-founded International Federation for Information Processing or IFIP has their International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) program which received full ratification at the world general assembly in August 2007 with their first implementation meeting in Montreal in October 2007. This marks an historical inflection point and speaks to IT as a recognized profession with global standards, profession-based code of ethics, and widely adopted professional certification-all happening in 2009.]
"....There are many different routes to the IT profession so it is very important that the IT societies and organizations are out there leading in terms of what it is to be an IT professional...."
Tell us more about your vision and objectives behind your current roles? What do you hope to accomplish and how will you bring this about?
"....My current roles are many and varied....One of the major things I am involved in is the internationalization agenda that the ACM has....It's very important that we have an offering for members outside the US that gives them something meaningful in their regions....Of my several other hats, most important to me is my research and the new Web Science Research Initiative I set up by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Nigel Shadbolt and Daniel J. Weitzner....And generally I enjoy the policy work. I enjoy the work advising the UK government and being on the European Research Council....."
[Editor's note: In a 2006 study from Microsoft Research (The Future of Information Technology - Growing the Talent Critical for Innovation), it was noted that the US graduates 60,000 engineers yearly, the same as Korea with 1/6 the population. The number of China engineering graduates is 700,000 yearly. The predicted proportion of the world's scientists and engineers living in Asia by 2010 is 90%.] What are long-term implications to this situation?
"....We are living in very unpredictable times....Every country, whether developed or the developing, need people with IT skills....What we need are people who can innovate. I think there is a unique opportunity to say these are the types of skills we need young people to have going forward...."
[Editor's note: The Job Migration Task Force conducted a two-year study which clearly indicates that to "stay competitive in a global IT environment and industry, countries must adopt policies that foster innovation and improve their ability to attract, educate, and retain the best IT talent." What solutions do you propose to address the issues raised in the last question and here?]
"....I was never one of the doom and gloom merchants of the job migration because I think these things ebb and flow....The government in the UK is saying they are still going to fund science and engineering because it sees that as hugely important.....because that is the only way to stay strong...."
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how business executives and IT professionals can best prepare?
"....I think in the future we will need more scientists and engineers involved in running the businesses....I think that businesses will need more people who understand where the world is going and who understand innovation on the board....If people are interested in doing this, then go on leadership courses and learn how to do it...."
Can you comment on the burgeoning China-based market and India?
"....I'm learning a bit more about how technology is being used in China. It's amazing how quickly they have adopted and adapted the technology. There are more people on the internet in China now than in America....Like a lot of the developing world, the rural parts of China, Africa and rural India, will access the web and internet through mobile phones. That's a very exciting development for the future...."
Dame Wendy, you are continually selected as one of the top researchers, senior academics and groundbreaking visionary innovators. How do you wish to continue to shape the world and contribute to the fabric of history?
"....You should enjoy what you do. I am passionate about the things that I do so I guess that's what drives me forward....."
I have a unique opportunity to drill into the accumulated wisdom from an accomplished executive and thought leader. If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
"....Don't let people put you off if you feel strongly about something....Aim high...."
If you were conducting this interview, what 2 questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....'What do you do for enjoyment?'......'Where do you get your energy from?'...."
Interview posted courtesy of CIPS Connections: Interviews by Stephen Ibaraki