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Student Story: Why blockchain isn't just for FinTech anymore

Interview with Helen Cooney, Communications & Program Coordinator at NSW Department of Customer Service

RMIT Online
RMIT Online

Helen is a Communications & Program Coordinator at NSW Department of Customer Service (DCS), working at DCS Spatial Services, which is the provider of authoritative spatial and land information services for New South Wales. Helen has a background in newspaper journalism and marketing, but her current role involves communication and engagement on projects that span digital transformation and change. 

After coming across a "blockchain model" in a meeting, Helen was "fascinated by the potential but couldn’t even begin to understand how it came together". After some Googling, Helen decided to study Developing Blockchain Strategy with RMIT Online to understand its application in a meaningful way. After completing her study, Helen felt that she can now "participate in these discussions and fully see the potential of how blockchain may interrelate with future projects at my department".

To find out more about Helens journey into the world of blockchain, and how she balanced studying online while working full time, read the full interview below.

"Blockchain was an area of digital capability that I wanted to understand and the RMIT Online course was clearly structured to guide someone like me, who had no knowledge in this area, from the basics all the way to delivering a strategy."

What made you want to upskill in Blockchain?

 

I was in a high level meeting at work and someone mentioned a “blockchain model” that was being considered. I was shown a complex flow chart of multiple inter-relationships in an over-arching process that was really hard to grasp. I was fascinated by the potential but couldn’t even begin to understand how it came together, so I googled blockchain and realised there wasn’t a simple answer. To understand it in any meaningful way would require some study.

The RMIT Online course met all my needs. I needed to start from the basics but also wanted to be able to converse and communicate confidently about blockchain with my colleagues. The course was short, online and was clearly tailored for professionals with the final unit requiring a recorded presentation.

In my area of Spatial Services, there is a need to “speak the language” but also be able to translate it for ordinary people. After completing the course, I can participate in these discussions and fully see the potential of how blockchain may interrelate with future projects at my department. I also gained confidence from delivering the final presentation.

"I had a fantastic industry mentor in Denise who led my online learning journey. She guided us all gently through the technical principles and was brilliant at meeting us all at our individual learning level"

How did you find the experience of studying online?

 

I had a fantastic industry mentor in Denise who led my online learning journey. She guided us all gently through the technical principles and was brilliant at meeting us all at our individual learning level, because some of our cohort were very technical and others were not. Her enthusiasm for blockchain was infectious. Denise clearly knew the subject and her feedback through the process was phenomenal.

I found studying online quite demanding while juggling full-time work and my family, but Denise was exceptional as a mentor in this journey and the course was structured with ample time at the end to catch up if we were behind.

 

What was the learning content like inside the course?

 

I found the blockchain learning content engaging, particularly where Denise was able to link blockchain to practical case studies. I needed a good story to understand the why of blockchain, and this hook pulled me into the learning content.

The course work took me through a journey from basics to the complex principles of cryptocurrency and I found the videos and written content to be very well structured. I found the weekly webinar to be very useful and the live format to engage with Denise and other students was helpful for me to understand the concepts.

The weekly milestones were a good balance of written and verbal presentation which was great for confidence building and enabled me to speak better about blockchain at work. Some of my colleagues at the department asked me to present on my final blockchain assignment and share my learnings with the team.

"if the opportunity to work on a blockchain related project comes up, I am fully across the fundamentals and ready to contribute"

What was your favourite part of the course?

 

The end! Completing every milestone was like having a religious moment!

Also, the connections with other students and Denise through Slack. This experience helped me to build my professional network with the other students in my cohort. Denise’s feedback was also invaluable as she provided personal recommendations on continued reading and education; she tailored her feedback to me and other people in the class with a specific interest, so it felt like we received personal attention from my mentor.  

 

Have you been able to apply your new learnings to your current job?

 

My current role takes me from project to project, if the opportunity to work on a blockchain related project comes up, I am fully across the fundamentals and ready to contribute. My leaders know this is an area I’m interested in and I’ve demonstrated interest in this area given my undertaking of the course.

Many of the transformation projects I’ve worked on have the possibility of integrating to a blockchain platform. I used a test case of blockchain in the NSW property development pipeline as the basis of my final project for my RMIT Online course so if this project were to go ahead, then I may have an opportunity to contribute.

"I would recommend this course to anyone who sees value in being part of the transformation."

Why would you recommend this course to other students?

 

In a world that is increasingly going paperless and becoming digital, I would recommend this course to anyone who sees value in being part of the transformation. It’s easy to just be caught up in the excitement of individual transformation projects but I think it’s also important to understand the possibilities that blockchain presents to integrate and leverage the power of digitised systems in a world that has never been so rich in data.

People will use blockchain in the future and not even realise it; these are the jobs of the future.

 

What is the one thing you would tell people to expect when they study online?

 

Don’t get behind in the course. Because the course is not face to face, there is a temptation not to log in and show up, but I found the information in the webinars and the conversations about the course content were vital to gaining an understanding of blockchain from differing perspectives and purposes.

 

For more information on upskilling opportunities for your business, check out check out how RMIT Online is working to transform businesses. Or check out all of our short courses here.

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