So, I was looking at the Year of Code website and made a rather startling discovery. For an organisation that’s dedicated to bringing programming to schools, they seem to have something of a shortfall of programmers.
- Lottie Dexter - formerly of Iain Duncan Smith’s Center for Social Justice and founded the Million Jobs Campaign. No technical background.
- Rohan Silva - former Number 10 policy adviser, entrepreneur, “architect of London’s Tech City”, has done a lot of policy wonk stuff. Can’t see any technical background.
- Saul Klein - entrepreneur and venture capitalist, partner at Index. Not seeing any coding background.
- James Bilefield - entrepreneur and businessman with a background in banking. Has been involved in a lot of important tech industry work including roles at Yahoo! and Skype, and advisory work at GDS, but not seeing a coding background.
- Nina Bhatia - British Gas, formerly at McKinsey. Works on ‘Connected Homes’ which is technical but comes from a business background.
- Suli Breaks - poet/spoken word performer with a law degree. Uses social media to build an audience. Both his website and his Tumblr caused Safari to freeze up, which is a bit irritating.
- Emily Brooke - creator of the crowdfunded Blaze LED bike light. Has a product design and science background and is involved with some entrepreneurial groups.
- Cristiana Camisotti - cofounder of Silicon Milkroundabout, the Old Street tech jobs fair. Also has a product design background.
- Tanya Cordrey - chief digital offer at The Grauniad, marketing and dotcom business background.
- Dan Crow - CTO at Songkick. Has a Ph.D in Artificial Intelligence, worked at Apple on Hypercard and QuickTime, then moved on to a variety of startups as well as Google. ACTUALLY A TECHIE!
- Jason Goodman - CEO of Albion London, a marketing agency with a tech focus. Has an advertising and digital background.
- Jermaine Hagan - founder of Revision, a mobile app.
- Julia Fowler - fashion designer turned startup co-founder.
- Alex Klein - co-founder of Kano (which is really a pretty awesome project). Background in journalism.
- Divina Knowles - Mind Candy executive with a business background.
- Martha Lane Fox - lastminute.com founder, extensive business and philanthropy background.
- Emma Mulqueeny - has run the Rewired State and Young Rewired State hack days, and been involved with the Guardian Developer Network. She knows a lot about data and she speaks geek well enough to be a great pick but doesn’t have a technical background.
- Alicia Navarro - co-founder of Skimlinks, an affiliate marketing startup. Has a degree in IT. ACTUALLY A TECHIE!
- Kathryn Parsons - runs DECODED* which teaches web skills. Has an ad agency background at Ogilvy. Involved in Tech City.
- Zach Sims - co-founder of Codecademy. Startup bizdev background and has worked in VC.
- Reshma Sohoni - partner and former CEO at SeedCamp, startup incubator. Business experience at Vodafone and in investment banking.
- James Whelton - runs CoderDojo, a startup doing coding training. Self-taught programmer. ACTUALLY A TECHIE!
- Michelle You - Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Songkick. English degree from Cambridge and a media/publishing background.
Now, I must note that not having a technical background doesn’t automatically make you unqualified, and many of these people will have useful things to bring to the table. But it does seem to be a bit strange for an organisation whose purpose is to bring coding to schoolchildren to not have more coders on board.
If the government set up a body to try and boost science education and most of the people on it weren’t actually scientists or science educators, that’d be a bit strange. If it set up a body to deal with some medical matter and it had only a small number of doctors advising them, that’d be a bit odd. Well, to me, it seems a bit odd that there are so few people who actually build software professionally on the executive and advisory board of Year of Code.