Women in Tech: Helen McHugh MACS (Snr) CP - Ambassador to ICT industry championing causes and your local ACS Branch Executive leader

23rd February 2021


  • Helen McHugh MACS (Snr) CP is currently the ACS NSW Branch Executive Chair and the NSW Congressional representative on the ACS Management Committee. 
  • She is primarily focused on Women in ICT, Hack-a-thons, Start-ups and Agile and Disruptive Service delivery and Not-For-Profits.
  • Helen’s career has contributed to the success of policy strategies in Federal Government Service Delivery Objectives in senior roles advising corporate leaders. 

1. As a technology leader, what is your greatest achievement to date?

There are many but maybe

  • the biggest is my contribution to the ICT Community as “Glue” I have made it a point to extend my network far and wide. And build on it regularly. Colleagues always know that if they need someone for a role or knowledge I usually know someone who knows someone.
  • followed closely by my ability to take broken projects, program processes and getting everyone to share the vision and then go make magic and achieve great success and deliver.

2. As recently elected Chair, what do you hope to achieve for the ACS NSW Branch?

I look forward to working with NSW Branch to harness the enthusiasm of the new Committee and to help make ACS the best it can be.

NSW is the biggest membership state.  Lots of the big Corporates have their offices here in Sydney. I want to see us engage with and build respect within all Pillars and Demographics across the wide spectrum that is our ICT Industry.

For the State and ACS to achieve a level of visibility around corporate maturity within the many assessment tools; CMMI, ISO, SFIA (even the staff), PMI, etc plus, WGEA, and many more.

Do a call on members to engage on who is a current certified in another “sub” association certification eg Scrum Alliance Scrum Master.


3. Tech changes fast. How do you keep up to date with the current trends?

Well yes Tech does change fast and this will be a given for who knows how long.

I have a number of methods;

  • there are the usual conferences, maybe not for a while with Covid,
  • start-ups interactions,
  • following the big Tech companies and keeping up with their promotions and announcements
  • track what the big consultancy firms: TATA, KPMG and Deloittes are writing about
  • then kicking it around if I can get my hands on the tools or talk to someone who is following the area closely
  • Peer review of the concept
  • Scanning through the online Newsletters
  • Connections on the social media networks and groups, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  LinkedIn contributions are actually of good quality and is a vehicle for Practitioners and Academics to get their material out into their Peer and Industry groups.
  • But mostly my network and their activities and my own needs.

Being a kinesthetic learner meaning I learn by doing and seeing and then experimenting and yep, making mistakes.  I engage with new trends, evolving tech. Right now the Zoom craze / need. It shows as a great example of the diverse collective thoughts; some hate it, some love and you know… there is no right answer. As with every layer of our technology it is best used on an as needs basis.  Using our communication skills and the task at hand.

Take books, when I was studying Librarianship/Computing some many years ago, our lecturer stated books will soon be a thing of the past.  There was a collective silent whimper in the lecture theater.  And then he said ‘oh ok there will be a little room in the middle of the building where you can go and touch books’.  So now after a small hiccup when Kindles and readers came to be, books sale are still strong.

The current AI and robotics developments is fascinating and is evolving with all the ‘to and fro’. And now we have drones that can go and fly over bushfires to assess rather than a bushfire fighter risking safety to check on the landscape.


4. How has an ACS membership supported your career journey in tech and what wisdom would you give to others looking to advance their career in ICT?

ACS Membership has allowed me to start to give back.  It has shown me the need to be there for folks at all their different points of their careers; being it a CEO leaving employment and looking for something to get involved in and give back or a graduate to understand some of the ism that they are told in their work place that they need to test in the ACS membership support network. 

We ran a Start-up ‘Speed Mentoring session’ in 2015.  I was amazed at the questions that were asked, simple questions but they highlighted the need for members to have access to senior members to ‘bounce off’ ideas, to ask questions.

Professionally having the Certification framework in line with other professional associations like PMI is very important.  Being a Certified Professional gives a layer of credibility to your skill portfolio and gives me a sense of pride in my Profession


5. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the ICT industry, and how do you wish to solve them?

  • Professional recognition: to reach a level of maturity where we are fully engaged with a large % of the ICT Profession in this country, where we are very much the go to professional organisation.
  • TRUST: Building trust with our business audience to help them be the best they can be…We still hear of failed projects when they hit the front pages.
  • COVID threw a spotlight on the Digital Divide again. Huge investment in tech but the ICT skills of the Australian population is fragmented.


Hear more from Helen McHugh, Chair of the NSW BEC.

Read her welcome message here