By @SimonCocking. Great interview with Grainne Bagnall who will be speaking at the National Digital Week. Founder SAM Sense about Maths now M=Maths-in-box   -ed.ie CoderDojo Mentor & IT Recruitment Specialist, Chair Rotakids&Teens Rotary Ireland&UK .

What is your background briefly?

I spent 15 years in the IT and Gaming corporate world both here and in the Netherlands.

How did it lead to what you do now?

Frustration with the continued asking from our clients for more out of the box engineers and female CV’s, that we just did not have and were not coming downstream

What is SAM?

Sense about Maths is all about engaging primary school girls and boys that maths can be cool and fun. I started out over two years ago with reaching out to local companies to support SAM by funding the program and offering their STEM employees the opportunity to become SAM Mentors in their local primary schools. From one company one school we have now over 45 schools and 20 companies participating as part of their corporate social responsibility. My overall objective is to empower primary school students and TY Students by providing a program that unlocks their potential to learn the value of maths and build their confidence in a fun and engaging manner. Essentially, we aim to improve the quality of maths for all students regardless of their current level.

Our Strategic plan for the next 3 years for (2017-2020) which we propose to carry out by working with relevant strategic groups such as primary schools, local industry and academia – are as follows:

• Combat the preconception that maths is difficult
• Promote and Achieve greater maths ability and creative thinking
• Build Strategic Relationships within the community and with other similar and relevant
organisations and projects.
• Challenge the local and national structures that lead to early school leavers and low grades in pass maths.
• Work towards the creation of a sustainable future for our children and to promote a positive profile of maths for all children in all communities.

We have just recently achieved a big objective on the above plan and that was partnering with STEAM-ed.ie UCC initiative we have become their partner M=Maths-in-a-box

You have a lot of interests, how do you balance them?

During the first few years of start-up balancing my interests is challenging, I am very fortunate to have a super supportive partner, friends & our dog Red (redsetter) that pull me in when the candle has gone out at both ends…….

What are your interests and concerns?

From working along side some of the most savy tech people and companies over the years I am very excited to see the advances in all things tech especially the 4th revolution IoT. My concerns are that our children are living in fabulous time however it is the country’s parents, teachers and education system that needs such up skilling that we need to work much more closely together or else we will have bigger gaps in the future than we have now.

What aspects of tech in general are you excited about? and which do you have concerns about?

I’m excited about IBM’s latest invention IBM Watson Analytics amazing technology .

My concerns are that we are now seeing anyway enough tech education coming down mainstream education – I believe we could fill croke park with 80,000 ninjas and they could teach our parents and teachers what they know in a w/e would be a phenomenal summit and so possibly with the incredible success story of CoderDojo – Govt could back this for 2020 Action…..

Why is Cork a thriving place for IT / tech?

There are a couple reasons why I believe Cork is thriving place for IT/Tech. The Tech community are very open, community is very international and friendly. The city has arts, academia, culture, and amazing eateries.

As a mentor / recruitment specialist, what advice would you give to young grads coming out of college?

+ Research the companies that represent your cores and values
+ Take a risk if it doesn’t work out try again
+ Be open to sharing your ideas and collaborating in team
+ Good old fashion ethic my parents taught me work hard, put your hand up, voice your opinions and never be afraid to ask
+ Negotiate your remuneration – you have worked hard enough in college

What else should we have asked you / you’d like to add?

I’m delighted with the fantastic opportunity to speak on the same stage as some fabulous local and international speakers next week at the Digital Week.

For all your readers interested in getting involved in SAM/STEAM Program for schools or Curiosity Den March 2017 to celebrate Engineers Week (250 kids and parents under one roof workshops and guest speakers all things STEAM related) to call me on 0864147979 or email [email protected]


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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