Techweek co-ordinator tackling tech tasks

Lauren Saker is preparing a programme of events for Dunedin Techweek 2019. Photo: Linda Robertson
Lauren Saker is preparing a programme of events for Dunedin Techweek 2019. Photo: Linda Robertson
Lauren Saker is talking tech.

Ms Saker is co-ordinator for Dunedin Techweek 2019, taking the reins on the city-wide calendar of events which will be held as part of this year's event from May 20-26.

Tech was something that touched "everything" and her focus was on catering for as many people as possible.

Ms Saker and her family moved south from Wellington at the end of last year, and they were enjoying life in Dunedin.

She grew up primarily in Katikati, in the Bay of Plenty, and completed her bachelor of fine arts, majoring in photography, in Dunedin, graduating in 2000.

Since then, her career experience was across a range of industries, primarily in project co-ordination and graphic design.

She had worked in education, in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) sector, international hotel real estate, and the creative and digital industries.

It was while working at the Wellington ICT Graduate School that she met Kylie Jackson from Dunedin's SIGNAL ICT Graduate School.

That connection meant she heard about the co-ordinator role, which was being funded by Enterprise Dunedin and the University of Otago.

Working from SIGNAL's office in Vogel St, she was contracted through until the end of Techweek.

She was working around 20 hours a week but, from March, that would increase to full-time.

Planning was well under way. When she came on board, conversations were still happening from last year's event.

For the first Techweek in Dunedin in 2017, there was just one event. That grew to 45 events last year - attended by about 2300 people and involving 92 speakers and 27 venues around the city.

Ms Saker was grateful for the "incredibly supportive" group that she was meeting regularly.

The overall theme was "innovation that's good for the world", and Dunedin was perfectly placed to highlight and celebrate the successful products, solutions, companies and people coming out of the city.

Dunedin's tech sector generated around $330million to GDP and provided more than 2000 jobs, and there were some "incredible success stories", she said.

The event would again include TEXpo, a collaborative cross-campus showcase of innovative tech, research and products and industries in Dunedin, hosted at both the Otago Business School and Otago Polytechnic Hub. Last year, more than 700 people attended and there were more than 30 exhibitors.

Ms Saker was focused on producing a programme of quality events that "touches and engages a really wide audience".

She wanted to promote tech careers and opportunities for young people and to encourage diversity and more women in tech.

Event submissions were open, and she encouraged anyone with an idea for an event, or with a desire to be involved, to get in touch.

The launch will be on March 27 alongside the Hi-Tech Awards.


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