How John Batty brings technology industry insights to the next generation of professionals
As an experienced network architect, Leidos' John Batty knows there are many different paths to a career in technology. But he also appreciates how much easier it is to navigate these with the help of an experienced guide to show you the way.
“I've managed to progress quite well in the technology industry, despite not going to university, but it took me a few years to find my feet," he says. “I've always thought that if people are given good advice in school or college, they will be able to go straight into an industry placement as soon as they leave."
To that end, John volunteers as a computer networks teacher at Fareham College in the U.K., supporting their vocational qualifications in digital support services and digital production. While John initially visited the college to deliver a one-off masterclass from the perspective of an industry veteran, he soon realised how much the course could benefit from his continued insight into what a career in technology looks like today.
“I'm in a unique position in that most of the other teachers on the course haven't worked in industry in quite some time," he says. “So, I'm able to give feedback into how things have changed since the course was designed and how various technologies are, or are not, applied today."
John’s contributions have already impacted Fareham's first cohort of Digital Support Services students, who achieved a 100% pass rate. Beyond their examination results, John also believes students benefit from accessing more informal advice on the realities of a career in technology.
, Principal Network Architect, Leidos UK
The students get an opportunity to chat with someone who knows the actual day-to-day of the industry and the various informal norms that it might be awkward to ask a teacher about. I also get a chance to advise them on the career marketplace and how they can make themselves valuable through routes other than just the standard university path.
As John points out, he's also learnt a lot himself from the experience of working at Fareham. In particular, he's gained a greater insight into the challenge of communicating technical details in the most accessible way, alongside the difficulties involved in managing the differing needs of a diverse group of young people.
Meeting these needs makes planning and delivering his lessons quite time-demanding, in spite of his familiarity with the course material. Finding time for that on top of his full-time work at Leidos would be unsustainable if not for the company's support of his volunteering activities.
“Leidos sponsor four out of my thirty-seven and a half hours a week towards volunteering, which covers two-thirds of my teaching sessions at the college," he explains. “And I have a lot of flexibility to choose how and when I work my hours, so I can make time on Friday afternoons to prep my classwork materials."
While John is interested in the idea of becoming more involved in teaching later in his life, for now, he enjoys the advantages of having a foot in both industry and education and being able to serve as a much-needed bridge between the two worlds.
“In a corporate situation, you're often quite far away from the effects of your work, and you don't get to directly see the influence you have," he says. “Whereas working at Fareham, I'm in direct contact with the people I'm helping, and it can be quite affecting at times."
Flexibility is a core element of Leidos’ employee value proposition – the company has been empowering people to work flexibly for years.