Friday Five: James Bannan


Every Friday we’ll profile a prominent figure from Australia’s IT, telecommunications or video gaming industries in the Friday Five.

James Bannan (@jamesbannan on Twitter) has had a diverse career. He has worked for some time as the information services officer — Network at St Leonard’s College in Melbourne. We interviewed him about the college’s rollout of Windows 7 here. But he’s also worked as a technology journalist, handing in articles for APC, ZDNet Australia and more. This week he’s our guest on the Friday Five.

1. What was your first job ever?

The first job I ever had was a holiday job working as a courier for a legal firm in Melbourne while I was still at school. My first “proper” job in the IT industry was a contracting role with LeasePlan Australia, where I worked for a few months before moving on to what proved to be a much longer stint at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

2. What do you most like about working in the IT industry?

The sheer size and diversity of the industry, and how it spans across all other industries as well. I love meeting new people who have technical interests and specialist skills which I could never hope to emulate and often know nothing about, but I always learn something from them.

3. What’s your hobby?

Until fairly recently I was a competition ballroom dancer which consumed pretty much all my free time. Since retiring from competition I have a whole host of interests like classical music, reading books on science and philosophy, playing squash and the odd bout of FPS or turn-based strategy on the PC. I also love BBC documentaries, podcasts, the occasional big screen movie and heading out for brunch with my wife and daughter.

4. Where do you think the Australian IT industry will be in five years?

I think that the concepts of a ‘personal cloud’ for individuals or a ‘private cloud’ for businesses will be a lot more prevalent than it is now. The idea is already with us, with quite a lot of people and businesses moving their IT presence to an externally-hosted platform, but there are still issues and uncertainties surrounding privacy and security, and it’s still quite difficult to make everything you need available online without compromising some aspect of usage or functionality.

I think that the next 5 years will see confidence in online platforms increase, as the legal issues become clearer and as the technology becomes ever more robust, scalable and platform-agnostic. In five years’ time, if I’m right I will look back and claim this as evidence of uncanny foresight and will double my charge rate, and if I’m wrong I’ll cite changed/unforeseen circumstances and the need for flexibility and will pursue a career as a financial advisor (and double my charge rate).

5. What/who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?

I’m not particularly career-driven, in fact I more or less fell into IT simply because it was what interested me most at the time. I draw inspiration from people who have found success by following their interests rather than chasing success, money or position. I try to immerse myself in the works of gifted writers, thinkers and speakers, because I’m always inspired by people who can communicate their ideas clearly with intellectual rigour, even if I don’t agree with what they say (in fact, especially if I don’t agree).

Image credit: James Bannan


  1. I wonder if many people have actually planned a career in IT, straight from finishing high school. Most, if not all of us older techies definitely “fell” into the job, taking on computers due to hobby interest or desperate pleading from their employers. Early experience with mainframes in the seventies became the answer to “Does anyone know how to use a [personal] computer?” in the eighties (granting you an instant Bachelor in Guesswork). My husband was an electronic engineer, and was co-opted very early on on the hardware side.

    Even now, I’m not sure many younger people actually plan “an IT career”. My late-twenties son coded as a hobby when he was a kid, but only recently became a specialist coder. Maybe kids do head off for Uni nowadays, firmly decided on their career choice, but I think most will still keep several options, gain as much experience as possible, and then often end up in a career more due to serendipity. Look for open doors, and it’s amazing what you find. ;)

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