Do we need tradition in the Information Technology industry?
Tradition in Information Technology? Let’s go back 800 years…
I became a Freeman of the City of London in October 2015 by redemption as a result of being accepted (in the summer of 2014) as a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, the information technologists Livery Company. The first recorded Freeman of the City of London dates back almost 800 years and has always been closely related to Livery Companies. During my Freedom ceremony I was given a book of rules to live my life by and a Freedom certificate scroll that states I am a Citizen and Information Technologist of the City of London. The scroll represents a direct link from our amazing industry to 800 years of tradition pre-dating the Magna Carta.
“A great example of one of the oldest Livery Companies working with one of the newest Livery Companies to great effect.”
Livery Companies date back to before William the Conqueror set foot on our shores. They were originally associated to religious fraternities but later aligned with specific trades, crafts or professions. They later took on apprenticeships and regulatory duties for their respective trades. Livery Companies had power of search, inspection and punishment, and some still retain their powers, such as the Goldsmiths and the Gunmakers.
Most people in the UK have heard of Richard Whittington (inspiration for our pantomime hero Dick Whittington). Richard Whittington was a Mercer, one of the oldest Livery Companies. The Mercers continue to distribute funds donated to them by Richard Whittington in the 1300s. The Information Technologists Livery Company co-sponsor Hammersmith Academy with the Mercers. A great example of one of the oldest Livery Companies working with one of the newest Livery Companies to great effect.
“Charity, Education, Industry and Fellowship are the four pillars of the Information Technologists Livery Company.”
Charity, Education, Industry and Fellowship are the four pillars of the Information Technologists Livery Company. Our activities fall into one or more of these categories. Some activities embody all four pillars.
The Information Technologists combine charitable funds with pro-bono IT support to help people in need whether they are suffering from sickness, poverty, homelessness, social deprivation or disability. Our pro-bono work is structured and managed through panels within the IT Company. We may work alone or as part of a team, but even when working alone we have the full support of other panel members, other WCIT members and in some cases we may call upon the support of members of other Livery Companies. We get to work on some very exciting projects. They range from small projects with a local community impact to projects with the potential to significantly change lives for the better on a national or even global scale.
The Information Technologists Company is actively involved with two London schools. We co-sponsor Hammersmith Academy with the Mercers Company and we have also been supporting Lilian Bayliss Technical School (LBTS) since 2002 when it was a failing school. In 2013 LBTS was rated by OFSTED as outstanding in all areas – an amazing achievement for any school.
The IT Livery Company is also active on a much wider scale encouraging students to consider a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as well as being actively involved in the Livery Schools Link. In March this year we will be attending an event at Guildhall in the City of London where we will be promoting careers in IT to year 9 students.
As the Livery Company for Information Technology we play an active role in the development of our industry by encouraging best practice as well as the sharing of knowledge and expertise. In addition to this we promote a better understanding of information and communications technologies.
We have a number of social events throughout the year. There is a regular monthly meeting in the City where existing members and people interested in joining can meet up. It is a very inclusive event where everyone is made welcome. Members can meet up with their Livery colleagues for a general chat or to catch up on their projects. Anyone interested in joining the WCIT can learn more from the members in attendance. There are also several business lunches throughout the year with excellent guest speakers as well as some more formal ceremonies and dinners that are a combination of fun and tradition.
On Wednesday last week I took three guests to our annual New Freeman’s Dinner. This is a fantastic event where new Freeman learn some old traditions in a friendly environment. The dinner was hosted by The Stationers and Newspaper Makers in the magnificent Stationers Hall very close to St Pauls Cathedral. Members of the Court were at hand to lead us in song, toasts and ceremonies. The Loving Cup Ceremony dates back to the murder of King Edward the Martyr when he was stabbed while drinking by his step-mother at Corfe Castle, Dorset in 978 A.D. The Rose Water Ceremony originated in the days before we dined with cutlery and was thought to sooth the digestive system.
“The 800th Lord Mayors Show in November 2015 was a big event for the City and for the Information Technologists in particular.”
The City of London is famous for its Lord Mayors Show. The 800th Lord Mayors Show in November 2015 was a big event for the City and for the Information Technologists in particular. A team of volunteers from the Company worked very hard and against the odds to build a float to represent our Livery Company and our industry in general. This was an especially important event for us as our current Master is a former Lord Mayor of London. In addition to this the Royal Corps of Signals – who have close links with the WCIT – provided their White Helmets motorcycle display team to join in our procession.
“We all enjoy working together for the greater good of our industry and for people that need our help.”
There should be no doubt that Information Technology has a place in the tradition of the City of London. The City is the financial capital of the world and it would not have retained that position without information technology. City organisations thrive on their ability to receive sub-second information from their trading partners around the world. On receipt of that information banks and other financial institutions depend on sophisticated software to trade the markets according to market conditions.
I believe tradition is a very important aspect to our industry. My Livery Company gives me a sense of belonging, I love being among so many like-minded people who want to put back – many with incredibly distinguished careers. We all enjoy working together for the greater good of our industry and for people that need our help.
The fellowship not only applies to the social events we attend, it also applies to our pro-bono work where we have the opportunity to work with teams of experts pulled together for specific projects. Together we have the ability and the influence to make a significant difference for many charitable organisations, and together we can celebrate our successes.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Livery Companies in the City of London, I thoroughly recommend The Freeman’s Guide by Paul Jagger, one of our Court Liveryman. It is a very interesting read and ideal for anyone applying to join a Livery Company.
The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
The Livery Schools Link
The Freeman’s Guide (Hard Cover)
The Freeman’s Guide – Magna Carta Edition (Kindle)
The Lord Mayor’s Show: 800 Years
Freedom of the City