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ACS Victoria Member in Government, Adrian Porteous

Thursday, 15 Oct 2015

Adrian Porteous FACS CP
Information Architect, VicRoads

When did you join the ACS?

A long time ago! I had been working for a couple of years in ICT as a Systems Analyst (a role that has somewhat disappeared - Programmer cum Business Analyst) with Shell Australia, and the head of application development, Charles Scorgie, took a few of us along to an ACS meeting in Parkville. I remember the guest of honour was an Apple II (that dates me!). I joined the ACS as a student on returning to study a couple of years later.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your pathway into ACS?

A bit of a traveller; I enjoy the journey. I was brought up in the UK, Argentina, and then finished high school in Perth. Along the way a maverick maths teacher, who had access to an IBM ‘mainframe’ at UWA, thought a group of us who didn’t know any better should learn machine language programming; 1’s and 0’s. We were fascinated by being able to make the thing ‘work’. After mastering the joys of registers and instruction codes I moved on to Fortran. It was still punched cards, console switches, and output to line printers, but a great step up, and a good grounding in IT.

I then went through a fairly standard Maths degree, gained a range of programming skills, graduated from cards to paper tape and then teletype input, built simulation and optimisation systems, and decided that I really didn’t want to work with computers as a career. On graduating with an Honours degree in Applied Maths, I joined Shell as a management trainee.

What first attracted you to taking up a career in ICT?

A career in ICT was not on my plan. I spent three years working with Shell running blending plants, admin operations and simulation models forecasting fuel usage, and realised that I was actually both using computers a lot and enjoyed this aspect of work. I switched across to the ICT department as a programmer analyst, and underwent training in software and data design, along with programming in PL/1. A colleague acquired an early IBM PC from the US for the office; they were coming through the ‘back door’ in to the organisation as ‘office equipment’, and we thought we had better understand what this new technology might do (roll forward 30 years and ‘cloud’ is coming into organisations in the same way). It was fun.

I got increasingly interested in ICT as a career, and started a Computer Science course at RMIT on a part time basis. Work travel commitments got in the way, and I withdrew, but later finished the qualification at the University of Queensland.

I haven’t looked back, and have had a long, and still continuing, career covering many aspects of the ICT profession.

For this whole time, I have valued my membership of the ACS, and the professional development and networking opportunities provided much enrichment for me along the way. I have been a member of three branches, served on the Branch Executive Committee’s of two and was a member of the national and Management Committee in the mid 2000’s. I am currently a member of the Professional Standards Board and Victorian Public Policy Committee.

What is your passion in life?

People, of course; trying to work out what makes us all ‘tick’. I am basically a left brained technocrat, and try to balance that with a life long interest in photography (I still occasionally ‘shoot’ on film), travel, reading, music, cycling, and even a little bit of theology (there must be something more!)

What is your favourite piece of technology?

The book – easy adoption, great UI, standards based, low cost, mobile, tough, long storage life, only power needed is a bit of light, shareable, aesthetics, etc.

Where do you see the opportunities in ICT will be in the future?

In many ways, the same as in the past. Ada Lovelace was born 200 years ago this year, and along with Charles Babbage helped set the foundations for the profession. At the most mundane levels, ICT will always be about delivering more efficient services. At the higher levels, I expect it to continue the supporting the advance of frontiers of knowledge, society, science and health care, and providing ever increasing ways of helping us all work, learn and grow.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee set a vision a couple of years ago in Melbourne on ‘changing the world through software’; I think we are on that journey, but as Berners-Lee commented, we have only just started. There will be a lot to do!

What ideas/tips or traps would you like to share with fellow ACS members?

Never stop learning, don’t stand still, and take every opportunity for new professional experiences. The ACS will provide you with an excellent platform for you to keep growing as a professional.