7 minutes reading time (1446 words)

Leadership Interview: Jaz Parkyn


Elections happen twice per year in Joomla and the Magazine takes this opportunity to interview the newly elected Board Members to know their program and vision for their role. In this election cycle, Jaz Parkyn has been confirmed at the head of the Programs Department of Joomla, the house of the Certification Team, Volunteers Engagement Team, Education Outreach and Joomla Event Travellers Program.

You have been the Programs DC for a while now, what do you consider the main purposes of this role?

I am of course here to help all of the Programs teams; each of them has their own important place in our ecosystem. Joomla would be nothing without its teams. I feel honoured that the Programs teams have chosen me and trust me to be their voice within the board. I believe that it is important to provide unbiased and honest views within the board, not just for the department teams, but for the board itself and for the whole Joomla community.

In my opinion, a DC is a facilitator who needs an understanding of Joomla’s history, the teams and the community to help connect people together, to share knowledge and to provide guidance to assist the teams with their activities. Having been involved with various Joomla teams and projects for a number years now, it is great to be able to share what I’ve learnt and my experiences with the teams in the hope that it in turn helps them also.

Why did you run for Programs DC in the first place? Is the reason you first ran still the same reason you ran now?

When the request for nominations were announced in early 2019, at first I didn’t have any intentions about running for a board position as I thought that I didn’t have the skills or knowledge required for such a position. It was only after repeated encouragement from a few people that I considered it. As it turned out I do have the skills - you just need to care about Joomla and want to do your best to help all of the teams shine.

The reason I ran again this year was because I couldn’t walk away from the progress that I have helped the Programs teams to make - I want to see them through to the next stages of their journeys and beyond. The members of the Programs teams have expressed how grateful they are for my help and how they appreciate the structure that I have brought to the department. I can see this enthusiasm within their discussions, activities and meetings - I feel very privileged to have been welcomed into the department and to witness first hand the exciting things that they have been working on.

You have two teams and one working group in your department: Volunteer Engagement Team, Certification Program and the Educational Outreach Group. What do they have in common? In what way are they connected?

Each of the teams has its own important place in our ecosystem; I see the most important thing that connects them is people - each of the team’s goals, missions, and activities revolve around people.

The Education Outreach WG aims to teach people Joomla skills and to show them the power of our CMS. The Certification team provides an opportunity for people to confirm their skills and become a certified Joomla Administrator. The Volunteer Engagement team aims to help Joomla find new people and to thank those that are already a part of our community.

All of the teams are connected by a desire to spread the awareness of Joomla in new and existing networks, to bring people "All Together" to learn, work and enjoy the same things which make our community great.

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?

In terms of the Programs Department, my biggest achievement aside from helping the teams is the creation of a policy that outlines the responsibilities for team leaders. It started as a document that I created in response to questions asked by the new VET team leader and soon evolved to have a wider scope. I was able to expand on the document from my past experience as JED team leader, combined with feedback and suggestions from all of our team leaders. I created it with the hope that it would be a helpful resource that formally defines team leader responsibilities, but also as a reference that can provide guidance to current and new team leaders. I have now started creating a similar document for Department Coordinators to officially define common responsibilities - a question that is often asked around election times.

How did Joomla change your life?

I came across Joomla around 8 years ago when I was building a website for a client. As a developer who likes to experiment with new tools I soon realised how powerful Joomla truly is. It gave me the ability to offer a wider range of features to my clients, thanks to the range of extensions available and the power of being able to override via the MVC framework. However, Joomla changed my life because of the people that I now class as friends - I have gained friends that I can ask advice about which extension is best suited for a project, friends that I can discuss business ideas with, and of course those who have become true friends where Joomla isn’t (always) the reason why a new conversation starts.

Diversity / equality has become an important theme over the past few months, for Joomla as an organisation as well. How do you see these themes in Joomla?

I see diversity in our skills. We all have different skills and abilities but combined all together we have achieved great things and will continue to do into the future. We have fantastic organisers, integrators, developers, designers, testers, documentors, and more... people without whom we would not be where we are today.

However, our equality suffers when our perceived barriers prevent new people from joining, using or recommending Joomla - this is damaging to both Joomla and its volunteers. Before these barriers can be resolved, they first need to be identified, and this is the most difficult part. The barriers that I can identify are probably very different from those identified by others, and will often vary with experience, location, language and culture.

I believe that we first need to look inside before we can look further outside. It is only then together that we can tackle how we are perceived and break down these barriers and increase our equality and diversity.

What are your goals for this new term?

My goal is helping the teams to achieve their goals:

The Certification Team is working very hard on their new exam platform and is starting to formulate plans to work on the J4 exam. I have brainstormed ideas with them covering topics including building awareness and finding ways to encourage those who have sat the J3 exam to also sit the J4 exam. Where I hope to help them is in identifying more ‘paths’ that can lead into the exam - I believe that if a person within a business becomes that company's Joomla person, then there is a good chance that the business will continue to use Joomla and will hopefully send their employee to Joomla events (including virtual!), where hopefully they join our community.

The Educational Outreach Working Group is starting to find its place in our community. I have recently been working closely with them and helping them to explore the different options and paths in front of them. As a working group, they have only just begun on their Joomla journey and I hope to be able to offer guidance, experience and knowledge to them as they progress. Their work (as with all teams) is very important – these students could become the new blood in our community, we just need to show them how great it is here. I believe that students should be encouraged to sit the Joomla exam at the end of their course, to give them something ‘real’ to accompany their new-found knowledge.

The Volunteer Engagement Team is currently working on their team mission surrounded by three main values: Retention, Recognition and Recruitment. It is a team where people are the main focus. As they develop their mission, I aim to help them explore ideas surrounding their main values and to help them connect with volunteers that can help them. The team continues to explore different avenues of outreach, relations, communications and engagement. 

Thank you Jaz, for taking part in this interview, and of course for your awesome work!

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