By any standard, Andrew Bettany is an IT professional at the very top of his game.
Andrew manages the IT Academy at the University of York, is a respected IT consultant and is an in-demand freelance trainer. Since 2005, he has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) with a burgeoning list of specialties.
However, Andrew’s greatest pride lies not in his personal successes but in helping others to learn and achieve.
Case in point, he recently volunteered his time at a certification bootcamp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Rather than just certifying Haitian IT professionals in Microsoft technologies, he helped teach them to become Microsoft Certified Trainers themselves.
Born to Learn caught up with Andrew (on the road in South Africa) to hear about his personal path to certification and how he’s giving back by “training the trainers.”
Andrew, tell us about where you’re from and your first experience with computing.I was born and raised in York. My first computing experience was in about 1983 when I got my hands on a ZX Spectrum 48k. I loved that little machine, alas I found the main use was to learn BASIC and play games.
When did you first realize you could use you computer skills to teach others?My first instructor experience came when I was a Regimental Signals Instructor in the Armed Forces Reserves. Traditionally, I used vu-foils and chalkboards to train other soldiers in radio communications. But I started using a new device called a "laptop" and built a library of PowerPoint 2.0 slides for other instructors to use.
Did you proceed from there with formal technical training?In my early 30s, I was still doing accounting work at an insurance company. They were unwilling or unable to let me attend any formal training on networking or server skills. So, at first, I attempted self-study and often I practiced on the live system!
It was extremely difficult and problematic. I had no help or support, so if I ran into a problem or unfamiliar concept in the book, I had to jump past it. That certainly hindered my efforts and left me frustrated.
When did you decide to get Microsoft Certification?Through a turn of fate in November 2004, my late sister, Vicky, spotted an advertisement in her local newspaper offering Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) training. It was fully funded through a European Union grant. When she mentioned it to me, I immediately applied.
The selection process consisted of an interview, technical presentation and an afternoon of assessment. Out of 150 applicants, I was selected as one of the eight to attend the intensive four-month course.
What has certification meant to you?Quite simply, it has changed my life. I have much more enjoyed my last six years of being certified than all of the years before.
Certification was the catalyst; I firmly believe that it is what you do with it once you have a certification that makes the difference. There are many opportunities out there, but they need to be seized upon and then nurtured to develop relationships. For the last five years I have been building those relationships.
Since certifying, I have represented the MCT community in numerous countries from USA to South Africa to Switzerland and, most recently, Haiti.
Tell us about what you aimed to accomplish in Haiti. We want to help Haitians to build back their economy better than before the earthquake.
All of the 13 Haitian IT professionals who participated in the week-long boot camp successfully achieved a passing performance. Five are now MCTs, which more than doubles the number of trainers on the island.
Those five people can now train many more IT Professionals than I could ever instruct by myself. Several of the newly minted trainers will be assisting with the next IT Pro bootcamp. It is being organized by NetHope with assistance from Microsoft in September of this year. I wish them well.
I hope that certification can change their lives in the same ways it did for me.
I've known Andrew for sometime now and it's so great to see how much he's achieved, not just for himself, but for the sake of others. I have a lot of admiration for Andrew as an IT professional flying the flag in York but also because he's pure and simply a great guy to know. If you are based in or around York and are looking for achieving a higher professional status in the IT Industry, I would highly recommend you look Andrew up to see where he can take you.