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STEAM vs STEM: Redefining key skills for the future

Telstra Careers Inspiration

Posted on January 14, 2020

3 min read

At Telstra Vantage, I was thrilled to be part of a panel adjudicating high school students from regional and remote Australia pitching technology-based solutions for problems in their community.

What struck me was that, for most of these students, finding a meaningful solution to a real-world problem wasn’t rooted in in-depth technical knowledge, but rather a creative mindset and a drive to innovate.

It’s these human skills – creativity, innovation, problem-solving and the ability to grapple with diverse ideas – that are critical to the future of work both at Telstra and across industries.

At Telstra Vantage 2019, we invited high school students from regional Australia to take the stage and present their tech solutions to the real-world problems facing their communities.
At Telstra Vantage 2019, I was thrilled to be part of a panel adjudicating high school students from regional and remote Australia.

Putting the ‘A’ into STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are incredibly valuable in enabling us to solve complex problems. These skills form the basis of many of the tech roles Telstra has today.

However, in our increasingly tech-focused world we need to further consider what constitutes a well-rounded skillset. At Telstra, when we’re recruiting for a role in tech, what we look for isn’t just a technical degree or technical experience but also the right mindset. We want to delve into how a person understands customers, their approach to challenges, their resilience to failure and when things go wrong, and how they collaborate to solve complex problems. These holistic human skills can be defined as ‘Arts’ and STEM becomes STEAM.

We are living in a world with never before seen challenges and opportunities. The education sector from school to tertiary are recognising this and many are integrating and prioritising the ‘Arts’ alongside science, technology, engineering, and maths curriculums. STEAM skillsets and mindsets are increasingly critical in order to be an entrepreneur, leader, innovator or creator in the future of work and we want students to have all of these skills in order to thrive.

Championing learning, curiosity and exploration

When I reflect on my career, I realise that I’ve learnt so much by surrounding myself and observing people who are curious, creative and brave enough to question and to try something new. These people come from all walks of life with different backgrounds and career experiences. They often have a deep passion for their work and their life, are generous in sharing what they know and are open about what they’ve learnt along the way. I am grateful for their insights and impact on me.

At Telstra Vantage 2019 with our Head of the Telstra Foundation Jackie Coates
At Telstra Vantage 2019 with our Head of the Telstra Foundation Jackie Coates

At Telstra, we believe that everyone should have a voice and the ability to change things. Within my team, we all have different specialisations and backgrounds, and the way we work is by dissecting problems and iterating solutions together. Those key human skills like curiosity, creativity and collaboration are what allow us to tackle some of our most complex challenges.

As part of our accelerator and education programs in our Telstra Graduate Program, we work with students and graduates to provide holistic training, hands-on experience and mentoring that assists them to transition from campus and to thrive at work. With this approach, we hope to equip people with those critical skills and mindsets that they can carry with them throughout their careers.

I’m really proud of the work we’re doing around designing and developing the future workforce for Telstra, and delivering genuine value through education and learning for our employees.

Are you interested in or know someone who should apply for our Telstra Graduate Program? Applications open in March.

You can find out about our other Programs here.

My journey from Telstra Graduate to Telstra Labs expert

Telstra Careers Students

Posted on December 12, 2019

4 min read

At Telstra Vantage this year, I had the opportunity to share some of the AI and machine learning projects I’m working on as part of the Telstra Labs team.

It’s a great feeling to be able to say I’m a subject matter expert in emerging technologies, and it’s thanks to my time in the Telstra Graduate Program.

From day one I had my sights set on Telstra because I knew about all the exciting work they’re doing in the emerging tech space. In my own time, I enjoy working on virtual reality and 3D printing prints and racing FPV drones – so tech is something I’m incredibly passionate about.

But as a new grad, it can be hard to know how to translate personal passion into professional development. The Telstra Graduate Program gave me the opportunity to build the real-world skills and experience needed to execute my current role.

What’s it really like being in the Telstra Graduate Program?

Everyone in the Program does three rotations to learn about different areas of the business and be exposed to different learning opportunities.

I started as a technical resource in the accounts team, where I got to interact with customers and learn about our approach to customer experience.

From there, I moved to Telstra Labs (then called the Chief Technology Office) to get hands-on experience working with emerging technologies like AI, AR, VR, 5G and drones.

For my final rotation, I worked with the networks and big data team to get an in-depth look at how we manage data at an enterprise level.

Those three perspectives – the sales and customer perspective, the technology perspective and the ‘at-scale’ enterprise perspective – have collectively driven success in my current role and equipped me with valuable tools for the future. Now I can say I not only have a deep understanding of tech, but also key skills like managing teams, vendors and budgets.

Throughout the Program, the leadership teams were always there to lead me to the right experiences, giving me visibility and the opportunity to excel. In particular, my leader Steve Harley has been one of my strongest advocates and helped set me up for success.

Luca works with the latest technology in his role at Telstra.
I feel privileged that I can work with the latest technology in my role at Telstra.

Where I am today

Since finishing the Graduate Program a year ago, I’ve moved into a full-time role at Telstra Labs as an AI and Machine Learning expert.

Day to day, I look at what will be happening in the space over the next three to five years, and also how we can use the technology to improve our products and analytics capabilities in the short term.

At the moment I’m working on an asset tracking and monitoring project examining how we can utilise machine learning to make sense of all the data coming through our network. Our goal is to have the technology not just provide insights, but also actions for offering a better customer experience. 

I’m also working on a project where we’re looking at using drones and AI for search and rescue. We want to answer the question: “What if we popped up a drone sending video over our network and trained an AI model to find people who are lost?”

We’ve tested this over 4G at about 20 metres height with 1080p resolution, and then over 5G at about 80m height with 4K resolution. What we found is that the search and rescue effort is much faster at a higher bandwidth and resolution.

These are just a couple of examples of the exciting challenges I get to tackle on a daily basis – and the foundational experience I gained in the Telstra Graduate Program has been essential in getting me where I am today.

Interested in a career in emerging technology? Learn more about Telstra’s Graduate Program, which opens for applications in March, 2020.

From computer game fan to cyber security lead – meet Tara

Telstra Careers Inspiration

Posted on December 5, 2019

3 min read

Tara Dharnikota has been working in the cyber security sector – or CySec – for more than a decade.

For the last five years, she’s led Telstra’s Open Source Intelligent (OSINT) unit, a specialist team that uses digital technologies and scours openly available sources of information, to find intelligence that helps protect our people and assets from malicious cyber threats and help us better understand threats to Telstra or our customers.

When many of us think of cyber security we focus on the defensive side, and how it’s about protecting us from hackers who access our online information to use against us.  

But there’s another side to hacking, and for Tara, it started with her love of the computer game Prince of Persia. 

“I wanted to somehow be able to play Prince of Persia on my old Nokia mobile by changing the internal code,” she says.

“I succeeded after a few days of persistence and persuasion.”

From there, her path was set.

“I started off my career with Network Engineering, but I noticed that my curiosity or hobby was more in how technology works and what happens if I break it,” she says. 

“My critical thinking and problem-solving skills in breaking and fixing technology led me to look into careers in CySec.”

Tara Dharnikota says her love of computer games led her to work in cyber security.

Recently, as part of Cyber Week 2019, Tara and 353 ethical hackers joined forces with the Australian Federal Police and AustCyber Canberra Innovation  in a global hackathon to see if they could find 12 missing persons identified by the AFP.

Almost 4,000 qualified leads were generated and shared with AFP for further investigation – about their homes, friends, employment, family, and the last day they were seen. 

“Our OSINT team came third in Australia and first in Victoria. It was a proud moment for all of us,” Tara adds. 

She’s also competed successfully in international open source intelligence hacking competitions, coming in the top 10 per cent, and she’s been a judge in others.

But just how do you ethically hack?

“OSINT uses passive techniques to find information publicly available on surface web and Deep Dark Web (DDW) using search engines and open source tools covering places such as social media platforms, websites, forums and marketplaces, government and real estate data,” she explains.

“We then analyse that data to form intelligence.”

For Tara it’s a career full of twists and turns, daily achievements and always hope.

“Cyber Security is ever-evolving, and each day is different. It’s a bit unpredictable, although the goal is the same – to protect and defend. 

“Waking up every morning with zeal and passion to do your work can be very rewarding and satisfying knowing that you work to protect the people and the network and go home with a sense of achievement.”

Are you a cyber security whizz? Great news – we’re looking for talented people to join our team. You can search and apply for jobs here or you can sign up for our job alerts here.

Three behaviours all great leaders possess

Telstra Careers Advice

Posted on November 18, 2019

3 min read

Leaders lead by example. They set the pace by actioning the behaviours they want to see from their teams, stakeholders, and anyone else they have influence over.

In my time at Telstra, I have worked closely with several leaders who have had an enormous influence on the company culture. They’ve made complex things simple to understand and helped me find my courage by showing that they care.

As a leader, I try to show the right behaviour to drive a great culture for my team and try to replicate what I’ve seen excellent leaders do. Here’s what I believe are the most important and impactful behaviours great leaders possess.

Having real conversations

Great leaders have real conversations with the people they work with. Having a human connection with your team influences their productivity and produces great results. Instead of letting things go back and forth over email, you can pick up the phone and easily resolve the issue at hand.

When things aren’t going right, it’s your responsibility as a leader to give constructive feedback to your members and have difficult conversations to get things running again. It’s important to use these conversations to understand your team’s motivations and any underlying issues they may have. This will let you effectively influence your team to achieve the priorities and outcomes you’ve set for them.

Trusting teams to deliver

The very best leaders have trust in their teams and their teams trust them to lead. You may have excellent strategies or an amazing work ethic, but without trust, it will be challenging to achieve results through your team. At Telstra, we want our teams to be able to work quickly and effectively, which is why we empower them to use their expertise to make and act on decisions. It is only through clear communication and connection that your team will feel liberated to voice their opinions and perform to the best of their ability.

As leaders, we have to trust our people to make decisions. Sometimes they might not be right, but you can use it as an opportunity to coach or provide a learning experience in the future. By empowering people and improving their experience as an employee, it repurposes their energy and focus to drive outcomes.

Promoting a fun and energetic work environment

Lastly, leaders need to facilitate a fun and energetic work environment where people genuinely enjoy working together. Telstra is by far the most supportive and inclusive workplace that I have ever worked in. The senior leaders help the team members contribute in their unique way to make the organisation an energetic environment of progress and learning. We encourage people to live our company values and support each other through every moment. Having this culture of support and inclusivity allows our people to grow their careers while being their most authentic selves. 

Interested in joining a genuinely supportive and inclusive work culture? Check out our latest job opportunities.

My round-the-world journey to Telstra

Telstra Careers People

Posted on October 2, 2019

3 min read

At Telstra Vantage™ 2019, I was thrilled to be able to showcase some of the latest projects I’m working on that leverage emerging technologies to improve our lives.

Talking to people from a huge range of industries, I was reminded that knowledge-sharing is what helps turn big ideas into realities. I’m lucky to be able to say that part of my job is spreading the word about tomorrow’s capabilities.

Before joining Telstra, I had worked for tech companies in India, the Middle East, Italy, Finland, Mexico, Ecuador, San Francisco and China. I wanted to expand my global exposure, and, knowing that Australia is at the forefront of innovation, I set my sights on a job here. My brother lives here too, so moving to Australia was the perfect opportunity to find a good balance between work and family.

Working for the right employer is one of the biggest components of career progression, so choosing to join Telstra was a no-brainer. I knew working here would give me the chance to be at the heart of innovation, ensuring safety, security and adoption of new technologies at scale, to drive efficiency and performance.

My role as a Technology Solutions Senior Specialist

In my role at Telstra, innovation is my bread and butter. I work in Telstra Labs where our mission is to identify and recommend new technologies to the business that will help to drive growth.

This means I work with emerging technologies like VR, AR, AI, 5G and IoT to better understand how we can use these technologies to improve our products and enhance our customers’ experiences. No two days are the same, but every day is exciting.

One really cool project I’m working on at the moment is socially engaging immersive entertainment. In a nutshell, this takes VR technology – which has so far been a relatively isolated experience – and transforms it into a social and engaging activity.

For example, if I want to watch a sports game, I can invite my friends and family from anywhere in the world to watch it with me, synchronised frame-for-frame in real-time via virtual headsets. We can also use our digital avatars to make gestures like smiling, winking and high-fiving.

The possibilities for collaborative VR experiences extend beyond the consumer and into the enterprise business realm too. This is just one example of how emerging technologies like VR, 5G and 8K image resolution will reshape our everyday lives.

What makes Telstra different?

I can honestly say that the culture at Telstra is amazing, especially in Telstra Labs. I’m part of a very diverse team from all over the world with a wide skillset, spanning everything from coding and development to business strategy, implementation and partners’ management.

We’re continuously working together to improve our products and help each other solve problems. We complement and challenge each other in a positive way – and that’s an ideal culture to have in any department.

Above all, working at Telstra, I’m empowered to make good decisions. I’m valued, respected and invested in. I’m inspired to innovate and to lead – to try new things and be bold. Rather than being told what to do, I’m told: “Show us what you can do”.

That’s not only great for personal career progression – it also inspires me to help build a better world.

Are you fascinated by emerging technology? Great news – we’re looking for talented people to join our team. You can search and apply for jobs on the Telstra Careers website.