Life as a BIT student

One of our principal consultants, Brad Foot, is now Chair of the Swinburne BIT/BAIS Steering Committee. Not long ago, Brad used to be a BIT student himself.

Late October, Brad visited his old stomping ground at Swinburne University to give a keynote speech at the BIT/BAIS Professional Development Awards event. He told his own personal story of life as a BIT student.

Brad’s BIT Journey

20 years ago, before the millennium bug almost destroyed the world, I was standing in front of a room like this in my first year of BIT delivering a speech. Back then, all first years had to host or deliver a speech with a topic of their choice, four times a year. Back then the BIT dinners were the biggest events of the year and we partied like it was 1999… because it was.

BIT changed my life and made me who I am today. Back in 1999 I was a shy boy from the country (well for me country kids lived on farms, and got the bus to school) — I was from a Rural city. But in the hallowed hallways of the Swinburne Engineering (EN) building amongst the city kids I was a country kid. My hometown was a distant memory. Back home, there was no building as tall as the EN building! Well… the water tower wasn’t far off, and we had the world’s largest rolling pin.

Full exposure to IT

Academically I enjoyed BIT with a good mix of subjects. Role playing in Organizational Behavior in the morning and writing COBOL in the afternoon. And, like most BITs, disliking Accounting. It was good to see the BAIS was created to solve that problem.

I fondly remember working out how I could use WinZip to span my 4mb multimedia assignment across three and a half-inch disks and put it in a yellow envelope, through the assignment slot. Searching the internet with Altavista using Netscape Navigator after upgrading to a 56k modem, wow-ing at the lightning-fast speed.

BIT’s social side

Socially, I really enjoyed BIT. Along with the dinners, we had a BIT social club called “The Society” and I was the Treasurer. Annually, we had a booze-cruise on the Yarra and an end of year ball. On my first booze-cruise on April 30 1999, I met my future wife. This year we celebrated 20 years together in Japan, and just had our 10-year wedding anniversary. Our 2-year-old daughter loves “puters” and wants to be a BIT too. But, she’s never allowed to go on a booze-cruise!

I became lifelong friends with an amazing group of BIT’s. Every Tuesday would be spent at the Guv (The Hawthorn used to be called the Governor Hotham). On our summer break at the end of second year we all holidayed on a P&O cruise on the pacific. We are all still best friends just spend our 20th Grand Final day together. Things changed a bit with our children out numbering us all.

IBL placement leading to Fenwick

In the year 2000 (as I spent each day stuck on Victoria Parade on my first IBL placement) my best mate Dave was enjoying city views and doing some exciting work at a new sponsor called Fenwick Software. When the 3rd year placement came around Fenwick Software was my first choice and I got it.

I have now worked at Fenwick Software for 18 years. Well besides an 18-month hiatus where I worked in Hamburg Germany in 2010-11. I returned in 2011 and became a shareholder along with Dave who is also still around after 19 years. After 35 years running the show, Peter Fenwick stepped down and another ex-BIT, Greg Galloway, stepped up as CEO. The company has had great success and tripled in size over the last 8 years.

Fenwick owes a lot of success to BIT

Over the last 20 years we have had 44 BITs work at Fenwick, and I have probably interviewed over 200. Of the 44 BITs to completed placement at Fenwick, 21 were employed full time. Next year we will be taking two students; one from BIT and one from BAIS.

IT students in demand

I was at a conference last week where Microsoft and the government were launching an initiative for more IT talent in Victoria. With 20,000 estimated new IT jobs being generated in Victoria each year and only 6,000 IT graduates, there is a big shortage. As a BIT sponsor, I felt very lucky to be part of BIT/BAIS courses and have access to the best of that 6,000. 

We have signed up Daniel and Conor to start next year. And they will join the two new students, along with another two new Developers in our 2019 Induction program.

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