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LinkedIn’s list of top 10 in-demand jobs includes digital marketers with SEO, social media, and content marketing skills.


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Carse and Waterman also plans to create a digital and creative skills hub at the building in Stoke


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The US oil and gas sector is facing several huge transitions all at once: the immediate crisis brought on by the pandemic and a longer-term energy transition away from fossil fuels.


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BrainStation CEO Jason Field explores digital marketing skills professionals need to know to help recession-proof their careers.


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As today’s digital landscape has shifted, with increased access to and advances in technology, and with more companies switching to…


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If you’re considering a career in digital marketing and want to know what skills you need, you’ve come to the right place.


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2020-11-16 16:30:00 UTC

Fashion has been rocked by wave upon wave of redundancies over the past six months, as the Covid-19 pandemic reshapes the future of the high street.


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ENISA, the European Union Agency for CyberSecurity, met on October 6, 2020 to review their current recommendations and get any last minute changes.  On October 20, 2020, they released a huge batch of reports that many folks seem to have not seen.  We wanted to take a moment to give you the guided tour and strongly recommend the consumption of these report.  Each publication is available "flip book" style on the ENISA website, and also as a downloadable PDF.Let's get started!https://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/year-in-review This is the 8th Year In Review for ENISA and their reporting just keeps getting better!  This year the main components of the report break down into topics like this: The Year In ReviewCyber Threat Intelligence Overview Sectoral and Thematic Threat Analysis Main Incidents in the EU and WorldWideResearch TopicsEmerging TrendsList of Top 15 Threats The Year In Review https://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/year-in-review <== Flipbookhttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/year-in-review/at_download/fullReport <== PDF This report has a few key sections.  The first that we'll cover is the "Ten Main Trends" that were observed during the reporting period: Attack surface in cybersecurity continues to expand as we are entering a new phase of the digital transformation There will be a new social and economic norm after the COVID-19 pandemic even more dependent on a secure and reliable cyberspace.The use of social media platforms in targeted attacks is a serious trend and reaches different domains and types of threats.Finely targeted and persistent attacks on high-value data (e.g. intellectual property and state secrets) are being meticulously planned and executed by state-sponsored actorsMassively distributed attacks with a short duration and wide impact are used with multiple objectives such as credential theftThe motivation behind the majority of cyberattacks is still financial Ransomware remains widespread with costly consequences to many organisationsStill many cybersecurity incidents go unnoticed or take a long time to be detectedWith more security automation, organizations will invest more in preparedness using Cyber Threat Intelligence as its main capabilityThe number of phishing victims continues to grow since it exploits the human dimension being the weakest link.Another key section in this area was the "What To Expect" which broke the topic into three areas -- Nation States, Cyber Offenders, and Cyber Criminals.  The reader is invited to view the full report, but I did want to mention that with regards to Nation States, ENISA describes the coming year as an "Uncontrolled cyber-arms race" with a free-for-all of nation states trying to buy up and acquire the best attack tools for the "cyberspace warfare domain" possibly through sponsored agents who may not present as the purchasing nation.In the area of What to Expect From Cyber Criminals ... BEC - Business Email Compromise, and BPC - Business PROCESS Compromise are expected to continue, along with malware targeting Managed Service Providers.  They predict that "Deep Fakes Used for Fraud" may be a rising trend.  I'm not sold on this concept as being a 2021 reality, but it is certainly something to watch for.I also wanted to call attention to the prediction that Cyberbullying is likely to greatly increase as a growing number of adolescents are spending a much greater time online, possibly with limited parental oversight of their activities, as Mom and Dad are busy working from home as well!Cyber Threat Intelligence Overview https://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/cyberthreat-intelligence-overview <= Flipbookhttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/cyberthreat-intelligence-overview/at_download/fullReport <= PDF In this area, training resource links are offered, however the report begins by calling attention to the great gap between higher performing CTI practices and the training and tools available to the average user.  While praising existing frameworks, such as MITRE: ATT&CK, they also point out the short-comings in addressing specialized sector-specific systems, emerging systems, and cloud-computing and managed service threats.The call is made to spend more emphasis on PREVENTION, DETECTION, and MITIGATION rather than the current near-total obsession with IOCs and APT-naming. Some sectors are especially trailing in the CTI area due to the specialty nature of their equipment and practices.  ALL SECTORS need to be greatly improving their capabilities in PDR (to use the more common Prevent, Detect, Respond term that I still prefer.)  The report calls attention to the fact that trailing sectors are often dealing with limited trust between organizations.  The more isolated your organization is from its peers, the more likely that your sector is struggling in this way.  Improved information sharing is a key.  To quote the report: "one should note that the deficiencies described are not due to a lack of CTI knowledge per se but rather to the lengthy cross- and intra-sector communication and coordination cycles for exchanging CTI knowledge."  A related quote => "Existing offerings concentrate on operational and tactical CTI, while strategic CTI is mostly offered independently."Results are shared of a "Comprehensive CTI Survey" conducted by ENISA.  Some key findings include: CTI is still primarily a MANUAL PROCESS in most organizations.Much CTI data is still primarily being passed through spreadsheets and email.CTI Requirements are becoming more defined and beginning to take significant guidance from business needs and executive input.CTI from Public Sources combined with observations from internal network and system monitoring is a popular modelOpen-source information, enriched by threat feeds from CTI vendors is a "clear upwards trend" indicating more focus on internal CTI production.Threat Detection is described as the main use for CTI, with IOCs being a base, but more interest in TTPs in the area of threat behavior and adversary tactics.Only 4% of respondents felt they could measure the effectiveness of their CTI programs!  OUCH!  Machine learning was ranked especially low, with most saying the skill of the analysts was the best predictor of success!Several areas of interest in the "Next Steps" section to me included:-  an emphasis on coordinating CTI requirements.  While the report called for this at the EU-member state level, I would say that SECTORS should be working together to determine appropriate CTI requirements and encouraging a sector-wide improvement through collaboration.  - development of a CTI Maturity model and Threat Hierarchies model.- ensuring that CTI is taking into account the geopolitical world state and not just the state of bits and bytes.Please refer to the full report for more details!  Sectoral and Thematic Threat Analysis https://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/sectoral-thematic-threat-analysis <= Flipbookhttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/sectoral-thematic-threat-analysis/at_download/fullReport <= PDFThis report begins by describing the difficulty of measuring and categorizing differences by sector. I must confess to being disappointed by the lack of insights in this particular report.  As sectors shifted to the cloud during the COVID-19 Pandemic, much of the "targeting" became less sector-targeting and more "target of opportunity" focused. While most attack trends were "stable" there were some "cross-sector" attack types described as "Increasing" ... specifically Web Application Attacks, Phishing, and Malware.The only sector actually that was called out as being at significantly greater risk than others based on incident trends was "Health/Medical" where increases in Malware, Insider Threat, and Web Application Attacks were all marked as Increasing.After a lack-luster "trends" report, all of two pages long, the remainder of the report focuses on Threats to Emerging Technologies, where there are some interesting observations regarding 5G Mobile communications, Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Smart Cars.The reader is invited to visit the report for more details.Main Incidents in the EU and WorldWideUnfortunately, with the official timeline of this report being January 2019 through April 2020, many of the "main incidents" here are quite dated.  Good to cover them for historical documentation, but not really worth re-hashing them at this time. Significant data breaches included the 770 million email addresses stolen from MEGA (the cloud data storage service in New Zealand run by "Kim Dot Com".) They also mention breaches such as ElasticSearch, Canva, Dream Market, Verifications.io, and a couple big MongoDB breaches.The most targeted services, according to this report, are Digital Services, Government Administration, Tech Industry, Financial Institutions, and Healthcare entitites.  In the area of Digital Services, we know that the primary use is to take the email address/password pairs and use them to attempt password replay attacks attempting to use the same pair against many additional online properties.  ENISA refers to those as "credential stuffing" attacks and indicates that "companies experience an average of 12 credential-stuffing attacks each month!" The report indicates that 84% of cyber attacks "rely on social engineering" and that 71% of the organizations with malware activity have seen the malware spread from one employee to another. Groups that are depicted in the report as "Most active actors" don't really align with what we've seen from other sources, but are listed as: TURLA - attacking Microsoft Exchange serveresAPT27 - mentions attacks against government SharePoint servers in the Middle East Vicious Panda - targeting Mongolian government entitiesGamaredon - spear-phished the Ministry of Defence in Ukraine in December 2019The report indicates that ENISA believes most cyber attacks originate from Organized Crime groups.The Top Five motivations for attackers are: Financial, Espionage, Disruption, Political, and Retaliation.The Top Five "Most Desired Assets" by Cyber Criminals are listed as: Industrial property and Trade secretsState/Military classified informationServer infrastructureAuthentication DataFinancial Data I won't detail is here, but the report also has advice on "What changed in the landscape with the COVID-19 Pandemic?" and refers to several previous publications from ENISA for that topic.Research Topicshttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/enisa-threat-landscape-2020-research-topics <= Flipbookhttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/enisa-threat-landscape-2020-research-topics/at_download/fullReport <== PDF ENISA says that "apart from basic cybersecurity hygiene and training, investing in research and innovation is the most viable option for defenders." Some of the key areas that they are encouraging research to be performed are: Better understanding of the human dimension of security - (I know so many great researchers in this space, from UAB's own Nitesh Saxena, to UAB's Ragib Hasan and his current survey on "User Preferences in Authentication" to Carnegie Mellon's Lorrie Cranor and the IIIT Delhi PreCog lab run by Ponnurangam "PK" Kumaraguru.) Cybersecurity research and innovation - with a special focus on building "test labs and cyber ranges" that better reflect real world deployments. 5G Security EU Research and Innovation Projects on Cybersecurity Rapid dissemination of CTI methods and content Emerging Trendshttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/emerging-trends <== Flipbookhttps://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/emerging-trends/at_download/fullReport <== PDF This report begins by pointing out that COVID-19 has initiated "new and profound changes in the physical world and in cyberspace" and pointing out that "cybersecurity risks will become harder to assess and interpret due to the growing complexity of the threat landscape, adversarial ecosystem and expansion of the attack surface."The Emerging Trends are given as three trend lists -- Ten Cybersecurity Challenges; Five Trends with cyber threats; and Ten emerging trends in attack vectors.  As I've said a few times, go check out the report for the full details, but a few really caught my eye, which I'll comment on below:Cybersecurity Challenge 1 - Dealing with systemic and complex risks.  The interconnectedness of our systems and networks means that a risk introduced in one part of the environment can quickly spread throughout our organizations.  The demands of reducing complexity and increasing ease of management has unfortunately caused many organizations to create flat network structures where a single Active Directory domain may touch every resource in the environment and where network segmentation has become almost non-existent.Unfortunately many of the other "emerging trends" in the cybersecurity challenges are seem more like wishful thinking than an emerging trend.  Reducing unintentional errors, automation of CTI ingestion, Reducing alarm fatigue and false positives, and cloud migration protections are all things we would love to see, but calling them an "emerging trend" strikes me as premature.  A few that I definitely agree with however include the role of CTI and the lack of a skilled workforce.Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is needed to help with the WHY, the HOW, and the WHAT questions.  The report points out "the value proposition of any CTI capability or program is to improve the preparedness of the organization to protect its critical assets from unknown threats." Anticipating the unknown requires a deeper understanding of both threat and adversary - not just in the form of specific Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) but in the form of TTPs - based on the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures - as evidenced by observations made both from open source intelligence (OSINT) but also through same sector and cross-sector intelligence sharing is going to be a key to hardening and preparing the organization to address forth-coming attacks instead of constantly reacting to known attacks.Just as we see in the US, a shortage in cybersecurity skills is hitting the EU hard. 70% of firms say that lack of skills is hampering investment in new technologies, and 46% of firms report difficulty filling vacancies in cybersecurity due to a lack of skilled applicants.  In the US, I constantly refer students to the Cybersecurity Supply/Demand Heatmap maintained by Cyberseek.org.  Currently they are showing 521,617 cybersecurity vacancies just in the United States!The final "Emerging Trends" area - Ten Emerging Trends in Attack Vectors -  has a few that I wanted to call attention to as well.  I'll share the list and comment on a few:Attacks will be massively distributed with a short duration and a wider impactFinely targeted and persistent attacks will be meticulously planned with well-defined and long-term objectivesMalicious actors will use digital platforms in targeted attacksThe exploitation of business processes will increaseThe attack surface will continue expanding Teleworking will be exploited through home devicesAttackers will come better prepared Obfuscation techniques will sophisticate The automated exploitation of unpatched systems and discontinued applications will increaseCyber threats are moving to the edge A key thread that flows through many of these trends is that attacks will move to new less defended "soft spots."   The report mentions banking trojans being downloaded from the Google Play store, attacks against routers, switches and firewalls rather than servers, and attacks being presented through apps that are skating on the edge between personal and business apps, such as SMS, WhatsApp, SnapChat and various messaging platforms, as well as gaming and streaming apps that may be present on devices being used to "work from home."List of Top 15 Threats The next post will address the ENISA "Top 15 Threats"


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As brands increasingly move content marketing efforts in house, marketers should sharpen their interviewing skills to mine for content gold. Here's how.


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From advisory to execution, the systems and data-centric professional services marketplace now offers skills and services across 12 categories from business consulting to space exploration solutions, including cloud computing platforms, cybersecurity and more UK-based marketplace software startup MeasureMatch has launched an expansion of its digital transformation services categories in response to customer demand that has been reaching well beyond the platform’s original focus on marketing, commerce, customer experience and analytics business needs. Marketing Technology News: MCTV Selects MOBITV to Offer Innovative Video Services to Residential Customers This expansion of services categories builds on MeasureMatch’s three core clusters of services regularly sought after


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Researchers used a newly developed imaging technique called serial block face scanning electron microscopy, to produce a digital reconstruction of eye tissues from the outer retina, at very high resolution. This is the first time this technology has been used to fully reconstruct cells from the retina and could provide new insights into the causes of irreversible blinding diseases.


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The education programme, which is being run by the Seoul Digital Foundation, will be offered for three months until the end of January 2021 at 17 welfare facilities for the elderly in five of Seoul’s 25 autonomous districts. It aims to reach around 3,000 senior citizens.


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Since its reopening, the Area 51 Digital Lounge has been hosting a weekly competition called 'Climb Di Rankings: Soccer Satdezz' where players put their skills to the test with the FIFA 2020 video game series. The survivors of the first round will earn the title of 'ultimate hombres'...


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Four months ago, Microsoft with LinkedIn announced its commitment to helping 25 million people around the globe gain new digital skills before the end of March 2021. The aim of the initiative is to help those that had become unemployed and were economically impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to gain new and […]


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Vaughan, Ontario, Nov. 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) applauds the Ontario government for its strong focus on a skilled trades strategy and digital innovation.In a budget released today, the province is setting aside $500 million over four years in a new Ontario Onwards Acceleration Fund, including $60 million for 2020-2021, which it says will pilot new technologies that improve how people and businesses experience government services in Ontario.“Reducing barriers to development by cutting red tape, simplifying policies and modernizing and digitizing government services to streamline the approvals process is critical to increasing housing supply necessary to support demographic trends and improve quality of life,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall. “We have had a chronic undersupply of housing for a generation which has driven up costs.”Through the government’s Skilled Trades Strategy, the budget also focuses on key themes that are crucial to enabling the trades to be considered a viable employment option for the next generation, such as simplifying the apprenticeship system and related career pathways as well as encouraging greater employer participation. “We are heartened to see the government commit such extensive resources to the skilled trades in Ontario,” said Lyall. “This is a reflection of the province’s understanding of the importance of construction and the need for sufficient skilled trades supply over the next decade to facilitate the economic recovery and success of Ontario.” RESCON is thrilled to see the government’s prioritization on expanding pathways into the skilled trades through partnerships with OYAP and Skills Ontario. Additionally, an investment of $4.7 million to develop a digital portal to support the trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario is a crucial part in ensuring that the pathways to entering the skilled trades are as accessible as possible for interested youth. The Group Sponsorship Grant and the establishment of the Skills Development Fund will allow for construction employers, including RESCON members and sub-trades, to become more involved and engaged in recruitment and retention of our next generation of construction workers.“The funding through the Apprenticeship Capital Grant will provide significant opportunities for industry to establish training facilities with necessary modern equipment to ensure that apprentices have the tools to obtain the latest subject-matter training,” added Lyall. RESCON also commends the government for the investment of an additional $60 million to the Black Youth Action Plan. Improving and expanding partnerships with the private sector, including the residential construction industry, will ensure that our collective efforts in addressing barriers and increasing labour market participation of Black youth in the trades are impactful. “Recognizing that anti-Black racism exists in many aspects of our society, including in the construction industry, is the first step to making meaningful improvement,” said RESCON policy and programs analyst Amina Dibe. “RESCON commends the government for also recognizing this. Further, we’re engaging with government, builders, the sub-trades and labour through RESCON’s Anti-Racism Roundtable and a Construction Against Racism Everywhere, or CARE campaign.”RESCON is also pleased to see a continued focus on the mental health and wellness of all Ontarians. COVID-19 has exacerbated many mental health challenges that people face, including workers in the construction industry. Expanding access and reducing wait times to mental health and addictions support services will ensure that people are able to get help when they need it the most.Background on RESCON: The Residential Construction Council of Ontario is the province’s leading association of residential builders committed to providing leadership and fostering innovation in the industry.  CONTACT: Grant Cameron RESCON 905-638-1706 media@rescon.com


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Statistically significant improvements in CDR system Cognitive Domain of Attention assessed by Choice Reaction Time (p = 0.039) and Digital Vigilance (p = 0.008) Statistically significant dose-dependent improvements in Episodic Memory (p = 0.003)ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) prevented the on-going cognitive decline in treated patients compared to placeboLate breaking abstract of cognitive outcome measures relevant to Alzheimer’s disease selected for oral presentation at CTADNEW YORK, Nov. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Anavex Life Sciences Corp. (“Anavex” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: AVXL), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing differentiated therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Rett syndrome and other central nervous system (CNS) diseases, today announced additional details on and presented the results from the proof of concept Phase 2 controlled trial evaluating the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) in patients with Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) at the 13th international conference on Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD). CTAD is an annual conference focused on Alzheimer’s research and development and takes place this year as a virtual event on November 4-7th, 2020.Details of the Late-breaking Presentation: Title: “ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) Currently in Phase 2b/3 Early Alzheimer’s Disease (AD): Analysis of Cognitive Outcome Measures Relevant to AD of Double-blind, Multicenter, Placebo-controlled Phase 2 Clinical Trial in 132 Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia”Presentation Type:Late-Breaking, Oral Presentation (LB25) Presenter:Dag Aarsland, MD, PhD - King’s College London, UK Date/Time:November 6, 2020, 10:45 am EST The study found that ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) was well tolerated in oral doses up to 50 mg once daily. The results showed clinically meaningful, dose-dependent, and statistically significant improvements in the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerized assessment system analysis. The study validated the precision medicine approach of targeting SIGMAR1 as a genetic biomarker of response to ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine), confirming that ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) acts through SIGMAR1 activation. These results support continued development in PDD / PD as well as the currently ongoing Phase 2 and Phase 2/3 clinical studies with ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) in Rett syndrome1 and Alzheimer’s disease2.Highlights of the study results: * Broad and statistically significant improvements in CDR system Cognitive Domain of Attention assessed by Choice Reaction Time (p = 0.039) and Digital Vigilance (p = 0.008) and CDR system Episodic Memory (p = 0.047), representing complex cognitive tasks with impact on quality of life such as making a choice between similar objects and remembering daily personal experiences, which are mostly impaired in both PD and AD.3 * Statistically significant dose-dependent (p = 0.003) improvement of Episodic Memory, which has been shown to be highly correlated (70%) with the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale–Cognitive score (ADAS-Cog; r = 0.7).4 * ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) does not impair sleep and has a positive effect on REM sleep behavior disorder. * ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) was generally safe, well tolerated, and improved safety profile compared to dementia drugs associated with typical adverse effects.The presentation is available on the Anavex website (www.anavex.com).The ANAVEX®2-73-PDD-001 study was an international, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled proof of concept Phase 2 clinical study that randomized 132 patients with PDD equally to target doses of 30mg, 50mg ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) or placebo, respectively. In addition to safety and cognitive efficacy, sleep function was assessed during the study at week 8 and week 14.ANAVEX®2-73-PDD-001 study results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Anavex is planning a pivotal trial of ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) in Parkinson’s disease dementia after submitting the results of the study to the FDA to obtain regulatory guidance.“I am very intrigued to see the promising results of the ANAVEX®2-73-PDD-001 trial, providing significant improvements in cognitive function accompanied by a favorable safety and tolerability profile,” said Dag Aarsland, MD, PhD, Professor and the Head of Department of Old Age Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK. “The ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) study results represent a meaningful step forward toward urgently needed treatment for this serious complication of Parkinson’s disease given that cognitive impairment of patients with Parkinson’s disease dementia is very distressing to patients and their families and is associated with greater risk of institutionalization and accelerated progression to severe dementia and death.”Dr. Jaime Kulisevsky, MD, PhD, Full Professor of Neurology & Vice-Dean Faculty of Medicine Autonomous University of Barcelona and Director of the Movement Disorders Unit, Department of Neurology, Sant Pau Hospital and Principal Investigator in the trial, commented, "PDD is a debilitating disorder with significant co-morbidities and there has not been a mechanistically novel medication approved for PDD in over 20 years. Hence, new therapies are urgently needed to alleviate this suffering and disability. As the first double-blind trial of ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) in PDD, this proof-of-concept study provides very encouraging and clinically relevant data."Christopher U Missling, PhD, President & Chief Executive Officer of Anavex, "Our strategy has been consistently to advance ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) with focus on Precision Medicine and to validate this approach in clinical studies in patients with significant cognitive impairments. We are pleased with these PDD study results that will be further supplemented by actigraphy movement data and whole genome exome DNA and RNA data. Finally, we would like to thank all the patients and participating families as well the investigators and clinical site coordinators for their dedication to this study."After completing the trial, participants were able to enroll in a voluntary 48-week open-label extension study, ANAVEX®2-73-PDD-EP-001, which continues to assess safety, long term efficacy and changes in gut microbiota.5ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) is an orally available, small-molecule activator of the sigma-1 receptor (SIGMAR1), which has been shown to be pivotal to restoring neural cell homeostasis and promoting neuroplasticity.6About Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD)Parkinson’s disease is a fairly common neurological disorder in older adults, estimated to affect nearly 2 percent of those older than age 65. The Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of those with Parkinson’s disease eventually experience Parkinson’s disease dementia. The brain changes caused by Parkinson’s disease begin in a region that plays a key role in movement. As Parkinson’s brain changes gradually spread, they often begin to affect mental functions, including memory and the ability to pay attention, make sound judgments and plan the steps needed to complete a task.7About ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine)ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) activates the Sigma-1 receptor (S1R) protein, which serves as a molecular chaperone and functional modulator involved in restoring homeostasis. In a Phase 2a Alzheimer’s disease (AD) study, ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) has shown dose dependent improvement in exploratory endpoints of cognition (MMSE) and activities of daily living (ADCS-ADL). Full genomic analysis of ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) Phase 2a study in AD patients was performed. The ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) Phase 2 PDD study design includes genomic biomarkers identified in the ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) Phase 2a AD study. Studies of ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) in a disease modifying animal model of Parkinson’s disease indicates that ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) is well tolerated, induces significant motor recovery (p<0.05), induces neurohistological restoration (p<0.05) and reduces microglial activation (p<0.05), a potential biomarker of Parkinson’s disease. Behavioral patterns were completely normal, meaning no signs of either dystonia or stereotypic behaviors were detected in animals receiving the treatment. These studies were funded by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.About Anavex Life Sciences Corp.Anavex Life Sciences Corp. (Nasdaq: AVXL) is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of differentiated therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Rett syndrome and other central nervous system (CNS) diseases, pain and various types of cancer. Anavex’s lead drug candidate, ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine), recently completed a successful Phase 2a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease. ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) is an orally available drug candidate that restores cellular homeostasis by targeting sigma-1 and muscarinic receptors. Preclinical studies demonstrated its potential to halt and/or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s disease. ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) also exhibited anticonvulsant, anti-amnesic, neuroprotective and anti-depressant properties in animal models, indicating its potential to treat additional CNS disorders, including epilepsy. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research previously awarded Anavex a research grant, which fully funded a preclinical study to develop ANAVEX®2-73 (blarcamesine) for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. ANAVEX®3-71, which targets sigma-1 and muscarinic receptors, is a promising preclinical drug candidate demonstrating disease-modifying activity against the major hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic (3xTg-AD) mice, including cognitive deficits, amyloid and tau pathologies. In preclinical trials, ANAVEX®3-71 has shown beneficial effects on mitochondrial dysfunction and neuroinflammation. Further information is available at www.anavex.com. You can also connect with the company on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.Forward-Looking StatementsStatements in this press release that are not strictly historical in nature are forward-looking statements. These statements are only predictions based on current information and expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in any of such statements due to various factors, including the risks set forth in the Company’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement and Anavex Life Sciences Corp. undertakes no obligation to revise or update this press release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof.For Further Information:Anavex Life Sciences Corp. Research & Business Development Toll-free: 1-844-689-3939 Email: info@anavex.comInvestors & Media: Email: ir@anavex.com__________________________________ 1 ClinicalTrials.gov Identifiers: NCT03758924, NCT03941444, NCT04304482 2 ClinicalTrials.gov Identifiers: NCT03790709, NCT02756858 3 Mahurin, R. K., & Pirozzolo, F. J. (1993). Application of Hick’s law of response speed in Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 77(1), 107–113 4 Wesnes K, Edgar C, Andreasen N, Annas P, Basun H, Lannfelt L, et al. Computerized cognition assessment during acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment in Alzheimer’s disease. Acta Neurol Scand 2010; 122:270–7 5 ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04575259 6 Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Volume 964 (2017) Sigma Receptors: Their Role in Disease and as Therapeutic Targets. 7 Source: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/parkinson-s-disease-dementia


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2020-11-12 18:14:59 UTC

Brief Artist Bio Baltimore based digital artist, Darren Thompson Jr, has been honing his skills in digital art for the past few years. After graduating from Towson University, Darren started creating contemporary themed digital paintings in Photoshop. Since 2018, Darren has been using photograph...


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Digital marketing is an in-demand career now. Here are the courses and skills you need to develop a successful career in this field.


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From Facebook and Google to Pinterest and YouTube, this bundle covers it all.


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Dublin, Nov. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The "STEM Toys Market - Global Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The global Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) toys market by revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% during the period 2020-2025.The analysis of the global STEM toys market forecasts that the industry will witness 1.5X times growth during the forecast period. The market is expected to observe significant growth because of the emergence of robotics, STEM-based courses, the need for cognitive and mental development, and the rise in millennial spending for nostalgia. However, the market is heading toward sustainable growth due to the rise in sustainability practices in the global STEM toys market. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and buyers are paying attention to the concept. Sustainable platforms such as exchange platforms and toy subscriptions can be focused on in the coming years. Global toy fairs are more likely to increase the awareness and scope for sustainable materials in the near future, which could have a high impact on the global toys industry.Global STEM Toys Market SegmentationThis research report includes a detailed segmentation by age group, category, distribution, and geography. The technology segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 7%. The growth in educational robots, coding, and smart toys is expected to drive the segment. Technological toys are highly preferred among kids and pre-teens, especially among boys. Coding and programming toys are also increasingly aimed at 3-5 years of children. APAC is the fastest-growing region for the segment.The science segment is expected to pose an absolute growth of 44% during the forecast period. Europe and North America are likely to grow at impressive growth rates. Gravity, lighting, physical laws, chemical projects, and geographic exploration are the major themes contributing to revenue generation in the segment. Vendors are recommended to capitalize on the segment by offering the highly preferred fictional and movie characters based on the regional preference to get wider acceptance.Like board games, engineering toys are used for the development of strategic and building skills among teenagers and are expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 7%. Owing to a strong culture of playing building games in countries such as India, Brazil, and Mexico, the growth is expected to be prominent in APAC and Latin America. The rise in the number of theme-based construction kits is driving the demand in western countries. The segment has emerged as one of the high-demand segments during the 2020 pandemic. The construction segment is highly preferred for developing engineering and building skills. Sustainability and eco-friendliness can be a major trendsetter and considered as the next big opportunity in the segment. The mathematic segment is expected to account for over 7% of the global revenue by 2025. APAC is the fastest-growing market in the region. It is expected to continue during the forecast period due to China's high production and consumption in countries across the APAC region. The interest in numerical and analytical toys is generally high among kids in the region.The 8-12 age group segment is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. Vendors prioritize their offerings and promote products toward this age group because of the development of skills and diversified field of strategies. Parents consider 8-12 years as an ideal age for utilizing STEM education toys that support academics. LEGO, Hasbro, and Mattel are major vendors in the STEM education market, catering to this group by developing blocks, engineering sets, scientific and electronic toys. The 3-8 years segment accounted for over 31% of the total share in 2019. The boom of smart and connected toys is expected to support the segment. Further, the dominance of electronic and technology-oriented products is well utilized. Therefore, the segment is expected to reach over $3 billion by 2025. The segment consists of educational toys and games ideal for countries where the scope of STEM-related professions is high. They are popular in Asia, especially in China, Europe, North America, and GCC, owing to high internet penetration levels. The 0-3 years segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 6% during the forecast period. APAC is estimated to emerge as the fastest-growing region. China is expected to dominate the market, with Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore expecting to lead the STEM toys market growth. Basic math sets, science kits, subject-based exploration STEM kits for kids, and simple construction sets are major revenue generators in the segment.Online channels consist of websites and third-party sellers that sell games via online stores. They are estimated to be the fastest-growing distribution channels during the forecast period. The growth in digital gaming platforms has indirectly influenced the growth of the online purchase of games. Moreover, the concept of toy subscription features from Amazon has been a gamechanger in online distribution models. Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, JD.com, and Alibaba are online retailers.The specialty stores segment includes companies' own brick-and-mortar stores. Stock availability and personalization of services are the major driving factors for the dominance of specialty stores over other retail formats. The franchising of specialty stores from major vendors continues to be a successful business model over the years.Market DynamicsMarket Opportunities & Trends Sustainable And Eco-Friendly Stem ToysTapping The Omnichannel OpportunityDemand For Robotic Toys Market Growth Enablers Need For Motor Skills And Cognitive DevelopmentBoom In Crowdfunding Platform Market Restraints Online And Mobile Gaming PlatformStringent Safety Regulations And GuidelinesLicensing And Counterfeit Products Competitive LandscapeProminent Vendors LEGOMattelHasbroLearning ResourcesMelissa & Doug Other Prominent Vendors Spin MasterK'NEXRavensburgerGoliathVTech ElectronicsLeapFrog EnterprisesThinkFuncomWowWee Group LimitedELENCO ELECTRONICSnetDigital Dream LabsSpheroJohncoSmartivityMagna-TilesOWIThames & KosmosSmartLabKlutz For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/e13mal Research and Markets also offers Custom Research services providing focused, comprehensive and tailored research. CONTACT: CONTACT: ResearchAndMarkets.com Laura Wood, Senior Press Manager press@researchandmarkets.com For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470 For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630 For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900


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There is a fundamental paradox, if not a contradiction, at the heart of apprenticeships. Apprentices sign on to be introduced to work and the skills they need for the future by those who may be steeped in the skills and practices of the past. Even before the COVID Pandemic the...


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Canadian tech education leader Lighthouse Labs announced their participation in the Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program today. The program is a go


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Affiliate program management - as a career choice is still not that widely promoted in mainstream digital agencies. Many people still fall into affiliate marketing through either customer service or sales. From the outset, a career in affiliate marketing may not look as attractive as other digital mediums like media or social which have had more visibility in recent years. Being head of an affiliate program can be a complex job to master when you first dive into this sector.


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Inside Out. Moana. Frozen. In order for these beloved animated films to reach the big screen, they first need to spend months or years being imagined, designed, drawn and brought to life. The animation industry entices junior Fiona McGill, who dreams of using her digital art skills to help produce films like these. McGill started...


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This summer, Microsoft launched the Global Skills Initiative aimed at helping 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills. And since that announcement, we’ve helped 10 million people gain skills to better navigate digital transformation. We believe it’s imperative to help everyone who wants it to have access to learning technology that powers the digital economy. Those who create...


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By Sami Zaptia. London, 24 November 2020: The Tripoli-based Libyan Ministry of Labour yesterday invited young digital enthusiasts to join the ‘‘Digital Champions’’ project organized by the "WeCode’’ Foundation, throughout the Arab world. The Ministry said the programme will be implemented in partnership with the Financial Facilities Fund. The Foundation seeks through this project to open the way for youth to learn everything related to digital skills. The Ministry says it represents an opportunity for youth to form their digital skills. It will be recalled that the Foundation announced the launch of the "Capacity Building with Google" programme on the 25th of this month, to address the growing skills gap in the workforce in the region, and to make universal use of the opportunities provided by technology. "WeCode Land" is a social program whose mission is to contribute to economic inclusion through digital culture, and seeks to provide young [...]


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/PRNewswire/ -- Simplilearn, the world's leading online Bootcamp for digital economy skills training, today launched their SkillUp initiative, a free learning...


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Around the world, 2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years in many of our lifetimes. In six months, the world has endured multiple challenges, including a pandemic that has spurred a global economic crisis. As societies reopen, it’s apparent that the economy in July will not be what it was in January....


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Credit: Pixabay The Cabinet Office has called in management consultants to give advice on how government can reduce its reliance on consultants, it has been revealed. The department has called on consultancies and trade associations to inform the government’s plans to set up an in-house “Crown Consultancy”, emails leaked to The Telegraph show. In the emails, civil service chief people officer Rupert McNeil outlined plans to set up a “brand and platform” to provide capacity and skills to government bodies where it is needed, according to the newspaper. The Cabinet Office aims to “launch an alpha pathfinder for a new Crown Consultancy capability” sometime between January and August next year, the report said. Trade bodies and consultancies are offering input to the project but are not being paid for their work, a source told The Telegraph. Related content Government reliance on digital consultants has halved in the last decade, civil service chief claims Minister lambasts government dependence on consultants Shadow minister claims government ‘addicted’ to outsourcing Under the plans, which were first reported in the Financial Times earlier this month, external consultants would be used less frequently only for specific tasks. The project is being led by Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew, who has recently said the government's extensive use of external suppliers is “providing poor value for money” and “infantilises the civil service by depriving our brightest people of opportunities to work on some of the most challenging, fulfilling and crunchy issues”. In a letter to civil service chief operating officer Alex Chisholm in September, Agnew said the government seemed to be ineffectual at using graduate Fast Stream civil servants to carry out work that is outsourced to consultants, “using similar people at a vastly inflated cost”. The latest plans would see fast streamers – of whom 60 of the latest intake joined the digital,data and technology profession – along with other officials appointed to the internal consultancy from elsewhere in the civil service. Once the internal body is set up, McNeil said the use of external consultants "should only be... for new capability requirements or for very scarce skills that the government does not need to use regularly". His comments echo those made earlier this month by Chisholm, who said the civil service should make “sparing” use of consultants only where it is justified to provide skills that are not available in house or where extra short-term capacity is needed. Chisholm told a committee of MPs that he agreed with Lord Agnew that “we should be doing more in house, and that capabilities that used to be seen as things you would get external consultants to do... should now be regarded as core disciplines in the civil service”. He said departments' use of consultants had peaked this year, as extra support was needed for the coronavirus response and preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period. A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "Ministers are concerned that the government is too reliant on consultants and have written to departments to make clear that services should only be procured when external expertise is essential and represents value for money. Where possible, we want to harness the wide range of skills within the civil service."


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With the next version of Windows 10, coming this spring, Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant will lose a number of consumer skills around music and connected homes, as well as some third-party skills. That’s very much in line with Microsoft’s new focus for Cortana, but it may st…


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The project will allow young people to join a series of digital skills workshops hosted jointly with Staffordshire University. The skills...


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The coronavirus pandemic has waged war on the economy, but one sector has been surprisingly strong: e-commerce. That's due in large part to the fact that more people than ever are shopping online. Entrepreneurs these days need to be adept at digital marketing if they want to thrive through the wide-ranging variety of lockdowns. Fortunately, you can get the marketing education you need at Black Friday pricing. We've rounded up some of the best marketing resources on the web, all available for an extra 70 percent off for a limited time when you use code BFSAVE70 at checkout. 1. The Ultimate Facebook Marketing Certification Bundle Facebook is the world's largest social media network and one of the largest advertising networks in the world. In this seven-course bundle, you'll develop a complete Facebook sales blueprint and learn how to leverage Facebook Ads to grow your business. If you're advertising on social media, you need to know Facebook. Get The Ultimate Facebook Marketing...


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Simplilearn is offering more than 300 job-ready skills such as Artificial intelligence and digital marketing through 1000+ hours of free online videos


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The MACRO X HBCU Entertainment Summit is set to go virtual this year. The second annual edition of the event will be presented by Amazon Studios and is set to kick off at 10am EST on October 24. Th…


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Credit: Adobe Stock When the government published the UK’s first National Cyber Security Strategy in 2016, the lack of cyber skills was identified among the country’s most significant vulnerabilities. Widening and improving this expertise was picked out as a key strand of the five-year development plan set out in the document. Indeed, as then chancellor Philip Hammond noted in his foreword to the strategy, the importance of closing the cyber skills gap now extends far beyond the security industry itself. “This is no longer just an issue for the IT department, but for the whole workforce,” he said. “Cyber skills need to reach into every profession.” Within two years of the publication of the strategy, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had commissioned market-research firm Ipsos Mori to conduct a major study of the cyber skills landscape across the UK. The resultant Cyber Security Skills in the UK Labour Market report, published in December 2018, showed that more than half – 54% – of the 1.32 million businesses in the country entirely lacked the skills or confidence to carry out one or more basic cybersecurity tasks – such as creating back-ups, managing admin rights, and arranging automatic software updates. Some 47% of firms said they were not confident in dealing with an attack, while only 11% employed someone who had cybersecurity responsibilities written into their job description. The findings of the research were used to shape the government’s Cyber Security Skills Strategy, which was published concurrently with the report. Jayesh Navin Shah, a researcher at Ispso Mori, tells PublicTechnology: “The cyber skills strategy recognises that there are probably a set of skills gaps, and an overall shortage in the number of cyber professionals that there are in various roles in the UK. And DCMS wanted to find out if they could get a sense of how big those gaps are, and what technical areas and other non-technical areas those gaps are the biggest in. The non-technical areas were also really important for DCMS – what are sometimes called soft skills, but also things like communication and leadership and management.” One in four Proportion of public-sector organisations for whom a single employee is responsible for cyber 15% Proportion of employees at UK cyber firms that are women – compared with 28% across the digital sector 653,000 Number of UK businesses – equating to 48% of the total – that lack the skills to perform one or more basic security functions 62% Proportion of people who took on responsible for cybersecurity at their firm after it was added to their existing duties Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the IT industry will no doubt have heard many mentions over the years of some form of technological skills gap. Such widespread usage has, perhaps, made the term a little nebulous. Shah says that the research team differentiated between skills gaps skills shortages. “A skills gap is about levelling up the existing workforce – the people in roles who are supposed to be performing cybersecurity functions, but may not have the necessary skills, technical and non-technical, to be able to carry out those functions to the competent level,” he adds. “A skills shortage is more about not having enough of certain people in the workforce – such as pen testers, security engineers, or security architects.” The understanding of where gaps exist was informed by researchers working with the team of academics behind the Cybersecurity Body of Knowledge project, which has created a framework to define and map cyber as a field of academic study. The programme, which brings together lecturers from leading UK and worldwide universities with researchers and industry representatives, has identified 19 core ‘knowledge areas’ that collectively constitute the discipline of cybersecurity. They are split into five groups: human, organisational and regulatory aspects; attacks and defences; systems security; software and platforms security; and infrastructure security. This framework was used by researchers on the DCMS report as a guide to help identify what expertise would be part of a comprehensive set of cyber skills, and where there are gaps. Minding the gap A second iteration of the DCMS cyber skills research was published in March. The data appears to show that the basic skills gap has narrowed slightly, with the proportion of firms lacking the skills to perform one or more basic security tasks dropping by six percentage points to 48%. Similarly, only 27% of companies indicated that they lack skills – either internally or via an outsourced provider – to deal with an attack. The report also measures areas where higher-end professionals skills are lacking – even within the cybersecurity sector itself, where almost two-thirds of companies claimed to encountered issues with accessing technical expertise either within their existing workforce or during recruitment. Areas where there is a marked shortage of these more sophisticated skills include: threat assessment and information risk management; assurance; audits; compliance and testing; cybersecurity research; implementing secure systems; and governance and management. Three in ten IT security companies also reported that a dearth of non-technical skills – such as communication, leadership, and management – was an issue facing their firm. But, excluding those specialised in in the cyber sector, half of all businesses employ just a single person who is responsible for company-wide cybersecurity. Although this figure is considerably lower among public-sector organisations – 25% – it is still more than double what it was in 2018, “indicating that they are less well staffed than before”, according to the report. The majority (62%) of people performing a cyber role for a non-specialist company are doing so after it was absorbed into their existing duties or job function. A further 26% were recruited from a non-cyber role. “You've got the problem of people knowing that they don't have the skills to do something, and that they need to get a specialist to assist them. But then they're still not quite clear on what that specialist looks like, and what sort of person they need.” Steve Furnell, University of Plymouth Excepting dedicated IT security businesses, only 6% of people currently fulfilling a cybersecurity position at a UK company were previously employed in a similar role. A further 4% are in their first professional position or apprenticeship. The skills gap for basic IT security functions is, in part, because even the smallest firms need to assign someone to – theoretically – assume oversight of and responsibility for cyber. In many cases, such firms may not even employ a generalist IT professional. “Many businesses… have an untrained member of staff dealing with the cybersecurity function in an informal way,” Shah says. “That person has their own additional job to do – sometimes they are the finance director, for example – and, therefore, the cybersecurity function is a secondary function in their overall job role and doesn't get their full attention.” On top of this, there are also many businesses that have yet to take advantage of the guidance provided by the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials programme – which, for £360, offers businesses the chance to conduct yearly self-certification exercises across core security areas such as installing firewalls, securing devices, protecting data, defending against malware, and updating software “The person in the cyber role, even if they're not a professional and are just a general manager, they should be aware of things that are in the NCSC guidance – but we're finding that most businesses have not accessed to that guidance yet, even though it is out there,” Shah says. “They don't actually fully appreciate the technical things that they're supposed to be doing as part of that role; they may know common-sense stuff – that they might need a policy, and they might need to put something in that policy about the use of USBs and personal devices, or that you can't just have 1234 as your password. But they might not actually know much more than that – which is why we find these basic skills gaps to be quite high.” He adds: “This is something that is a continual challenge for government: trying to get businesses to understand that this is not just about common sense any more and you need to and look at this guidance and it will teach you to do these things properly.” Professor Steve Furnell, leader of the Centre for Cyber Security, Communications and Network Research at the University of Plymouth – who was also part of the research team commissioned by DCMS – says that the challenge goes beyond simply raising awareness. A business reaching an understanding of where it needs to look out for cyber shortcomings does not necessarily mean that it will then know how to address them, nor whom they need to help them do so. “Part of the problem is that, even when somebody looks at it, interpreting what that guidance means and how that guidance would need to be enacted in their organisation is something that the layperson isn't going to know how to interpret,” Furnell says. “So, you've got the problem of people knowing that they don't have the skills to do something, and that they need to get a specialist to assist them. But then they're still not quite clear on what that specialist looks like, and what sort of person they need.” Qualified approval The research makes clear that there are a vast array of differing cyber qualifications – both academic and technical – but a decided lack of clarity on what each of them means, and their relative merits. This is demonstrated by the fact that about two-fifths of firms (38%) in the cyber sector itself do not employ anyone who possesses or is working towards a dedicated IT security certification of any kind. It is, perhaps, little wonder that non-specialist organisations might struggle to know what kind of expert assistance they require, and what badges to look for. “Even if you've got the resources to do it – [you may not know] what sort of person you need to engage,” Furnell says. “What does the appropriate professional or the appropriate skill set look like for the sort of protection your organisation needs to enact? While there are myriad different qualifications and certifications out there, knowing which is the appropriate fit for your needs is something that isn't quite there yet.” Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP) status emerges as the most common specialist qualification to be possessed by someone working for a cyber firm as a cyber professional. But, even so, just 19% of specialist companies employ someone with this qualification. A generalist degree appears to be more useful, with 33% of cyber firms employing a computer science or IT graduate. However, one respondent from a cybersecurity company described CISSP as “the gold standard”, on account of the comprehensive grounding that it offers. “It is a generalist certification, which is a mile wide but an inch deep,” they said, “The fact that someone has passed that shows that they have a wide understanding of security and can hold a security conversation with a client.” Furnell says that part of the appeal of CISSP is that it is only available to those with at least five years’ career experience. For employers, the simple knowledge that they are hiring a seasoned professional can be at least as valuable as whatever skills that person gained while studying for the qualification. “Another reason why CISSP is a widely sought-after qualification application is that people can see CISSP is a widely sought-after certification; demand creates more demand,” he adds. “And this isn't to disparage or in any way criticise the content of CISSP. It's a broad certification, and it covers a wide range of knowledge and skills areas. Many vacancies are asking for CISSP. And, so, somebody else looking for security professionals will see that others are asking for CISSP, so will ask for it as well.” There is a sense that some respondents quizzed for the study were a little tepid on academic qualifications. But Furnell says it is important to understand the distinct and differing roles played by different types of certification. “The academic qualification is about someone being capable of embedding themselves in the knowledge domain, developing some initial skills and exposure to that environment and maybe some level of workplace experience, particularly if it's an undergraduate programme that has an industry placement,” he says. “But that's not going to be the equivalent of somebody who's been out there for five to 10 years as a practitioner, working in an environment.” Furnell adds: “You can have somebody with an academic qualification, who's got a lot of knowledge of what the issues are, but hasn't put any of it into practice, versus a practitioner who could have an extreme level experience in a particular niche… but is unable to generalise that into a wider context.” 2016 Publication date of the government’s five-year National Cyber Security Strategy 19 Number of core ‘knowledge areas’ that comprise the cybersecurity field, according to CyBOK Five years Amount of professional experience needed to obtain CISSP certification – described as the ‘gold standard’ £360 Annual certification cost of NCSC Cyber Essentials – which the study found is still underused Among cybersecurity businesses, 52% of employees had joined from a previous role in the sector, with a further 21% occupying their first job. The qualitative research conducted by Ipsos Mori found that firms had a “positive attitude towards apprenticeships”. “Where discussed, the heads of cyber teams saw them as good opportunities to fill skills gaps,” the report says. “Various benefits were mentioned, including allowing people with no cybersecurity background to enter the profession, getting staff who do not have preconceptions about working in cybersecurity and staff who sometimes have better soft skills than those coming through the university route.” It adds: “However, there were cases where firms had struggled to find apprentices or found it challenging to match them up with the right training courses for their specific cyber roles.” Furnell says that apprenticeship schemes dedicated to cyber disciplines – particularly degree-based programmes – and “still in the early days”. But some specialist options have emerged, and these will have an important role to play. “For certain types of students and certain types of employer, that will be a very valuable route for people to go,” he adds. “They'll be available to offer the degree-level education that the student wants, whilst doing so from the context of a workplace, and having that practitioner experience building through time. But the employer still needs to begin the process with somebody who is not an experienced practitioner, and it is a different journey to get there.” Diversity It is an oft-repeated maxim that humans are the weakest link in any organisation’s IT security. The increased focus on so-called soft skills in the 2020 skills report speaks to the need for cyber specialists to communicate effectively with the wider workforce and instil in them awareness of risks and best practice. About half of cyber professionals in the private sector, and a quarter of those employed in the public sector, are not confident in preparing training materials or sessions. Some 27% of business security professionals would not be comfortable discussing risk with their senior managers. This figure is just 8% in the public sector. The research found there is a clear need for a “holistic” set of skills – including both technical expertise across a range of technologies, and the business know-how required to implement initiatives effectively. The report says: “In the qualitative interviews, a major recurring theme was around the importance of staff in cyber roles having a combination of different types of skills rather than focusing on individual gaps in skills and knowledge.” The cultivation of a greater variety of skills could be helped by an improvement in the diversity of the cyber sector – something which is currently clearly lacking, even against the fairly low benchmark set by the tech industry. “Many businesses… have an untrained member of staff dealing with the cybersecurity function in asector – something n informal way. That person has their own additional job to do and cybersecurity is a secondary function and doesn't get their full attention” Jayesh Shah, Ipsos Mori Just 15% of people employed by cyber-specialist firms are women, compared with 28% of the wider digital sector. Some 16% of cyber employees, and 17% of the overall digital industry, identify as BAME. The DCMS and Ipsos Mori report finds that 9% of workers in the cyber sphere are neurodivergent – the first time that a reliable figure has been calculated. Among the report’s qualitative data, many respondents talked earnestly of the need for greater diversity, and the benefits of achieving it, while displaying an understanding of the scale of the problem – at least in statistical terms. Fewer spoke of concrete initiatives or made quantifiable commitments to the achievement of the goals they espoused. Shah – while noting that the research might have looked different if it had been conducted in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and, perhaps, the coronavirus pandemic – says that the study found that many organisations address diversity issues in a “piecemeal” way. Larger firms might have company-wide initiatives that do not address problems that are endemic to the cyber sphere. “We found people saying that diversity is dealt with across the firm as a whole, and is not specifically looked at for the cyber part of the business,” Shah says. “And diversity initiatives, when they get to the cyber team, can peter out a little bit, because it's not specifically dealing with the issues in cybersecurity.” He adds: “The other thing we found was there was a sense that people thought this is important, but what can I do? So, they were saying: ‘we think it's an issue primarily [because of] the pool of people that are coming to us – and we can't change the nature of the CVS that come to us; if they all happen to be from men, then there's nothing we can do about that’.” Having commissioned another iteration of the study, due to publish in spring 20201, government appears committed, at least, to keeping a close eye on how much changes and what can be done to address the need for cyber skills and the resultant issues. “There is still quite a lot to be done – there is still a gap to be filled,” Furnell says. “Organisations, clearly, not only need to do more, but they need more support in doing it. And we as a cybersecurity community need to be doing more to ensure the accessibility of the skills that the wider community needs.” This article is part of PublicTechnology's Cyber Week, a dedicated programme of content focused on the threats facing the public sector and the country at large, and how government can best respond. Throughout the week, which is brought to you in association with CyberArk, we will publish interviews, features, analysis and exclusive research looking at - in chronological order - the cyber landscape for defence and national security, businesses, citizens, the NHS, and, finally, central and local government. Click here to access all the content in one place.


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Kilmarnock town centre Credit: John Lord/CC BY 2.0 Plans to recruit a 200-strong ‘digital army’ of young people have been announced for a new cyber and digital learning centre in Kilmarnock. The 16-24-year-olds will be trained in the latest cybersecurity skills and techniques at The HALO Kilmarnock when it opens its doors in May 2021. This follows the commitment of £1.5m of funding by the UK government under its Kickstart scheme. Under the scheme, all 200 young will be paid for a minimum of 25 hours per week and the training will result in a HALO-accredited qualification. After completing the first six months of training and work experience, it is hoped that participants will be able to start a further six-month work placement. These placements are expected to include The HALO’s corporate partners, such as ScottishPower, Barclays PLC and Anderson Strathern, and start-up companies based at the HALO and beyond. It is hoped that these work placements will lead to full-time opportunities. The training will be the catalyst for further courses and will involve a combination of on-site training and e-learning and the intention is to expand the scheme to 500 young people. Related content Innovate UK head looks back on 'a year of incredible change' How big is the UK’s cyber skills gap? Interview: Inside one further education college’s virtual desktop revolution The HALO Kilmarnock is a £63m brownfield urban regeneration project on a 23-acre site, formerly the home of Johnnie Walker whisky. It is a mixed-use development with both housing and business premises powered by electricity with a net zero carbon footprint. The aim is to create an industry-leading cyber and digital training and learning facility in its enterprise and innovation hub, which is currently under construction. In addition, plans are under way for the successful candidates to potentially be housed within a number of The HALO’s 210 net zero carbon emission smart homes that will be built in the second phase of the development, which reflects the way that Johnnie Walker provided many of its workers with affordable homes in Kilmarnock in the 50s and 60s. Marie Macklin, founder and executive chair of The HALO Urban Regeneration Company, said: “My vision is for The HALO to create a cyber/digital army of young people who will gain the skills necessary to go out into the UK’s businesses, third sector and public sector organisations to fight the ever-increasing number of cybercriminals who are threatening this country. This funding from UK government is indeed a great kick start for this scheme and will make a significant contribution to the UK’s future cybersecurity. “But I don’t want to stop at 200. I believe we could create opportunities for as many as 500 young people a year at The HALO. The sustainability of this ambition is all-important and I am acutely aware that for many local young people, affording housing is a challenge. We aim to address that for those participating in this scheme in much the same way as Johnnie Walker did all those years ago.” Scotland minister Iain Stewart said: “We are pleased to be working with HALO Kilmarnock to offer 200 young people from across Scotland the opportunity to develop the latest digital skills. The digital tech sector is one of Scotland’s biggest success stories and will make a vital contribution to economic recovery from coronavirus. The UK government’s vision for the Kickstart scheme is to give young people a future of opportunity. I would like to thank HALO Kilmarnock for sharing this vision and being an early pioneer of the scheme.”


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New Delhi/UNI: Indian football stars with the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and among others grieved the passing away of one of football’s greatest legends, Diego Maradona, who enthralled fans across the world with his skills and had wowed fans in India during his multiple visits to the country in the past as well.


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‘Improved Internet connectivity, skills have heled many countries to cope with the health crisis,’ says OECD - Anadolu Agency


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Recruitment experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross discuss why they're looking for digital skills and the importance of cover letters in impressing them.


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Encantos, a Culver City, CA-based edtech company focused on enabling kids to learn skills through digital and physical play, raised $5.7m in seed funding


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Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. continues to refresh its award-winning financial services mobile app through the launch of loans and skills marketplace to boost financial inclusion in the country.


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SINGAPORE - Media OutReach \- 12 June 2020 - As digital transformation become the imperative for businesses in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, 58% of employers in Singapore are training their workforce in technology-related skills to keep their businesses viable and resilient during this period. This is one of the key findings in the recent NTUC LearningHub's Employer Skills Survey report. The survey, which was conducted during the 'circuit breaker' in April 2020 with business leaders across Singapore, aimed to uncover the most in-demand skillsets across industries -- including Built Environment, Essential Domestic Services, Lifestyle, Manufacturing, and Professional Services, and Trade and& Connectivity - in the Covid-19 era. Overall, in terms of digital skills, competencies such as 'Digital Marketing' (voted by 44%), 'Project Management Skills' (voted by 43%), and 'Data Analysis' (voted by 40%), had superseded other skills including 'Basic IT support' (voted by 33%) and 'Data-Driven Decision Making Skills' (voted by 32%). While Digital Marketing skills were most sought-after by the Lifestyle (67%), Trade and Connectivity (59%), and Professional Services industries (52%), Project Management skills had higher priority for employers in Built Environment (66%) and Essential Domestic Services (50%). For those in Manufacturing, Data Analysis skills were the most critical (44%) to their company's survival. Commenting on the findings, NTUC LearningHub's CEO, Mr Kwek Kok Kwong says, "Covid-19 has transformed the way that many of us look at businesses and our lifestyle. Many employers are readier than before to embrace digital solutions that previously seemed daunting, and I foresee digitalisation becoming a core strategy for businesses. In Singapore, we are fortunate in that our innovation is well supported by funding schemes such as those for digital solutions, including e-commerce platforms. We also have a well-educated and adaptable workforce to support that with some level of retraining." "In this new world order where social distancing is the new norm, a business' ability to stand out amongst the crowd digitally would give it a competitive advantage and that could explain why Digital Marketing emerged as the number one digital skill. In a data-rich environment, the ability to use Data Analysis for decision-making and the customisation clients' needs will be a game-changer. We therefore see Data Analysis skills emerging high in the ladder of skills in demand. Employers are also demanding not only workers who possess strong Project Management skills to manage complex projects, but also those who can sort out their backend workflow to make the customer journey a seamless one." To download the full NTUC LearningHub's Employer Skills Survey report, visit https://campaign.ntuclearninghub.com/skills-report. About NTUC LearningHubNTUC LearningHub was corporatised in 2004 with the vision of transforming the lifelong employability of working people. We work with both corporate and individual clients to provide learning solutions in areas such as Infocomm Technology, Healthcare, Employability & Literacy, Business Excellence, Workplace Safety & Health, Security, Human Resources and Foreign Worker Training. To date, NTUC LearningHub has helped over 21,000 organisations and achieved over 2.5 million training places across more than 500 courses with a pool of over 400 certified trainers. As a Total Learning Solutions provider to organisations, we also forge partnerships and provide a wide range of relevant end-to-end training solutions and work constantly to improve our training quality and delivery. For more information, visit www.ntuclearninghub.com.


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An Ayrshire-based programme has been set up to build a digital army in Scotland through the training of young people in digital skills.


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South Africa’s long-term sustainability and economic prosperity depends on our ability to meaningfully participate in the digital skills economy. Technology and software are embedding themselves in every aspect of our lives and business, and our ability to participate in the opportunities created by this global shift is essential to our future prosperity.


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Microsoft plans to provide digital skills training for 25 million people this year under a new, multi-million dollar initiative that will bring together multiple branches of the company…


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An Ayrshire-based programme has been set up to build a digital army in Scotland through the training of young people in digital skills.


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Like all festivals, the Slamdance Film Festival is set to shift to a hybrid fest for its 27th edition — but it isn’t holding back on its programming as it will feature 20 feature film p…


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Bridging the ‘gender digital divide’ is about more than ensuring that women and girls have basic access to the Internet and cell phones; it means providing training so they have the skills to use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to their benefit, and taking active measures to boost the numbers of women in ICT leadership positions, including in academia and entrepreneurship.


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The national Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) and the online learning platform Udacity are sponsoring the two-part initiative, designed to train rural Americans in new skills that will help them participate in the growing tech economy.


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EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment lawyers Leigh Brecheen, David Feldman, Stephen Breimer, Richard Thompson and Ashley Silver have peeled away from Bloom Hergott to launch their own new entertainment law fir…


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The new-age digital skills which include the likes of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data engineering, and robotic process automation will contribute in excess of 25% of the overall hiring


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In a region where only one in four women works, experts say those who retrain could tap surging demand for digital skills.


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Kimberlé Crenshaw, Ann Lewnes, Wonya Lucas have joined the Sundance Institute Board of Trustees alongside Uzodinma Iweala, Amanda Kelso, William Plapinger, and Junaid Sarieddeen who joined over the…


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The J. Joel Edwards Public Library will host three free virtual workshops on digital skills to help grow small businesse


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Microsoft is continuing to focus its Cortana digital assistant on productivity scenarios by phasing out Cortana Skills starting in September and dropping Cortana mobile app support and more in 2021.


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Here are some gadgets, tech or not, that The Verge’s staff like to use in their kitchens.


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SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Emagia, a leading provider in the order-to-cash automation space, announced today that its flagship AI-powered digital...


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ChristianaCare is using Alexa skills for ChristianaCare HomeHealth. “We have a bold vision of the future: All care that can be digital will be digital, and all care that can be done in the home or in the community will be done in the home or in the community.,” said ChristianaCare CEO Janice E. Nevin, […]


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This is the reason why Havas took the step of integrating all of its skills under one roof (advertising, strategic planning, content, creation, technical, production, media, digital, social, PR, logistics) within the Havas village concept. Here's how they did it.


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Website: shrm.org
2020-12-01 12:56:15 UTC

Training employees for in-demand, hard-to-fill jobs helps them move up the career ladder and reduces the shortage of candidates with critical digital skills.


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ROSTELECOM PJSC (RKMD) 12-Nov-2020 / 18:00 MSK Dissemination of a Regulatory Announcement that contains inside information according to REGULATION (EU) No 596/2014 (MAR), transmitted by EQS Group. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement. Rostelecom acquires LUKOIL's telecommunication armMoscow, Russia - November 12, 2020 - Rostelecom Group (MOEX: RTKM, RTKMP; OTCQX: ROSYY), the largest integrated digital service provider in Russia, today announces that it has signed a legally binding agreements to acquire 50.1% LUKOIL INFORM, the telecommunication business of LUKOIL - one of the largest vertically integrated oil and gas companies in the world. Under the agreements, at the time of signing, Rostelecom will acquire 50.1% shares in the company, with call/put options to increase Rostelecom's participation to 100% in 2023. The total deal value will depend on LUKOIL-INFORM's financial performance and will amount to no less than RUB 2 billion, including the exercising the call/put options. LUKOIL-INFORM operates the telecommunication infrastructure for oil and gas exploration, production, processing, marketing and distribution across all LUKOIL's branches in 53 regions in Russia. In line with the agreement, LUKOIL will retain the existing contractual commitments for LUKOIL-INFORM over the next five years. The deal will further solidify Rostelecom's B2B offering through the formation of a competence center for digital development in oil and gas sector. This in turn will open up further opportunities to promote Rostelecom's comprehensive digital services across LUKOIL's wider corporate footprint. Anna Shumeiko, Senior Vice-President, the Chief of Staff of the President of Rostelecom commented: "The acquisition of LUKOIL's telecommunications business will strengthen our proposition for corporates. The wider synergy effects of this fusion will yield new opportunities for collaboration with the largest oil and gas major, including in the area of IoT technologies. We have already started to explore new innovation projects and are looking forward to learning from colleagues at LUKOIL to further strengthen our digital skills that the oil and gas sector will benefit from". Vladimir Kirienko, First Vice-President of Rostelecom commented: "The ongoing digital transformation and the growing demand for cloud coming from large industrial companies in the past few years, prompts them to hand over telecommunications divisions to communication operators. This trend has proved efficient both commercially and technologically, as companies don't need to invest in setting up large scale IT infrastructures and can rely on operators' ecosystems. The collaboration with LUKOIL will enable us to optimise and expand the range of services for the entire group, and going forward, build up our own competencies and enhance the digital offering for continuous processing industries". Further information is available at https://www.company.rt.ru/en/ir/news_calendar/.* * *PJSC Rostelecom is the largest integrated digital services and products provider, operating in all segments of the telecommunications market in Russia. The Company serves millions of households, state and private enterprises across the country.Rostelecom is Russia's undisputed market leader, providing high-speed Internet access and pay-TV. The total number of broadband users stands at over 13.4 mln users, it has more than 10.7 mln pay-TV customers, over 5.9 mln of which are subscribed to Rostelecom's IPTV services. Tele2 Russia, a Rostelecom subsidiary, is a major player in the mobile market with over 44 mln subscribers and the industry-leading NPS, a customer satisfaction benchmark.During the nine months of 2020, the Group generated RUB 383.9 bln of revenues, RUB 149.6 bln of OIBDA (39% of revenue) and RUB 27.4 bln of net income.The Group is the leading provider of telecommunications services to government bodies and corporates of all levels. Rostelecom is a key strategic innovator that provides solutions in the following fields: E-Government, cybersecurity, data-centres and cloud computing, biometry, healthcare, education and housing & utility services. The Group's stable financial position is confirmed by its credit ratings. Rostelecom has been assigned 'BBB-' and 'BB+' international credit ratings by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's respectively, and AA(RU) by ACRA.* * *Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws and intended to be covered by the safe harbours created thereby. Those forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: * Assessment of PAO Rostelecom's (the Company) future operating and financial results as well as forecasts of the present value of future cash flows and related factors; * The Company's plans to take ownership stakes in other organisations; * the Company's anticipated capital expenditures and plans to construct and modernize its network; * the Company's expectations as to the growth in demand for its services, plans relating to the expansion of the range of its services and their pricing; * the Company's plans with respect to improving its corporate governance practices; * the Company's expectations as to its position in the telecommunications market and forecasts on the development of the market segments within which the Company operates; * economic outlook and industry trends; * the Company's expectations as to the regulation of the Russian telecommunications industry and assessment of impact of regulatory initiatives on the Company's activity; * other statements regarding matters that are not historical facts. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties and other factors include: * risks relating to changes in political, economic and social conditions in Russia as well as changes in global economic conditions; * risks relating to Russian legislation, regulation and taxation, including laws, regulations, decrees and decisions governing the Russian telecommunications industry, securities industry as well as currency and exchange controls relating to Russian entities and their official interpretation by regulatory bodies; * risks relating to the Company, including the achievement of the anticipated results, levels of profitability and growth, ability to create and meet demand for the Company's services including their promotions, and the ability of the Company to remain competitive in a liberalized telecommunications market; * technological risks associated with the functioning and development of the telecommunications infrastructure, technological innovations as well as the convergence of technologies; * other risks and uncertainties. For a more detailed discussion of these and other factors, see the Company's Annual Report and the Company's other public filings.Many of these factors are beyond the Company's ability to control or predict. Given these and other uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any of the forward-looking statements contained herein or otherwise. The Company does not undertake any obligation to release publicly any revisions to these forward-looking statements (which are made as of the date hereof) to reflect events or circumstances upon the annual report publication or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as may be required under applicable laws. * * * ISIN: US7785291078 Category Code: MSCM TIDM: RKMD LEI Code: 2534001D752JPNM0H170 Sequence No.: 87795 EQS News ID: 1147829 End of Announcement EQS News Service


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Skills Development Scotland is exhibiting at Digital Scotland 2020 to promote digital apprenticeships while also asking public sector technologists to step up and help the nation’s school children. Before the pandemic struck, SDS was piloting a new initiative called “Tech Industry in the Classroom”. This involved teachers and industry leaders working together to create and deliver an experience which was as close to being in work as possible. However, like so many other initiatives, they’ve had to look at delivering this new approach online rather than in the classroom. So the organisation has developed a best practice guide to engaging


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"Urgent Expert logo"Urgent Expert Ltd. provides a vast library of digital marketing tools to optimize and rank any website in search engines. The digital marketing tools can give business owners valuable insight and best practices they can apply without hiring any marketing agency.England, United Kingdom - A large part of business is digital marketing. Many aspiring business owners do not have these skills, and it can be expensive to hire out these jobs. Urgent Expert Ltd helps to level the playing field for startups, sole traders, local businesses, agencies, and companies by offering a digital marketing tools subscription oferring.


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While some of you are still brooding over the stay-at-home days, the others have found a silver lining – digital experiences. No kidding, people are taking virtual yoga classes together, learning new skills, starting their blogs and what not. So we trawled the web made a list of online experiences on MensXP that might tickle your fancy, take a look!


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Training and development platform added to company’s employee digital health and wellbeing app


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Update, Sunday AM: After an intense battle for No. 1, Warner Bros.’ Dunkirk gained yardage away from Sony Animation’s The Emoji Movie with the Christopher Nolan WWII epic taking the top…


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External data and analytic capabilities can be used by banking organizations, but internal teams must be trained to deploy these insights.


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The new website helps Michigan workers easily connect to online certification and degree programs including free training and work readiness tools.


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As cinema halls take a back seat, there is an unprecedented boom in the OTT Market across the globe due to the pandemic situation. Just like it is with the rest of the world, OTT viewership in India is at an all-time high now. While OTT platforms were making a mark for themselves in the Indian market, the COVID crisis accelerated the process. From just two OTT platform provider in 2012 to about 40 players now, the OTT revolution has come a long way in India. Assuming the crisis is not going to get over anytime soon, here is a brief outlook on what could be the future of OTT in India: Market size USD 5 bn by 2023: A Boston Consulting Group report predicts that the OTT content market is at an inflection point in India and is like to reach $ 5 bn in size by 2023. An increase in disposable income, internet penetration to rural markets, and OTT video adoption across demographic segments have been the key drivers of OTT market growth in India. The majority of Indian households have a single TV per household. However, as part of the Digital India plan, the government has been investing in high-speed broadband enterprises to amplify broadband coverage and adoption which is crucial for OTT video success. Therefore, the availability of affordable data has created an alternate medium where consumers, can tap into any content, any time, at any place on a device of their choice as per their convenience. With the necessary infrastructure being put in place it is but obvious the sector will grow at this pace. Rural India is opening a new distribution channel: With increased internet penetration in the rural areas (estimated to be ~650 mn by 2023), OTT players are keen on developing regional content to cater to the rural markets. As per Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO, ALTBalaji and Group COO, Balaji Telefilms, lack of other entertainment options has spurred audiences (mostly from Tier2 & Tier 3 cities) who had not discovered OTT viewing up until the pandemic struck are adapting to these platforms. While most of them are first-time samplers, as the lockdown will still, platform owners are trying to increase customer stickiness by bringing in a variety of content to cater to the increased content viewing appetites. Also, before the pandemic started the top 8 cities in India contributed to 70% of the total audience for Alt Balaji. However, post-April 2020 the scales have turned to 40-60, where 60% of the traffic is from outside the top 8 cities. Production houses are going digital: Due to the pandemic situation, the average time spent by Indian OTT subscribers has increased from around 20 mins to 50 minutes to 1 hour in current times. While there were only 2 OTT platforms in 2012, now there are approximately 40 platforms catering to subscribers in India. About 49% of India’s youth spend 2-3 hours watching content online. With this rate of consumption, it is obvious that the content pipeline will perish is no time with an audience hungry for more content. To keep up with the growing demand for more content, OTT behemoth Netflix is planning to spend INR 3000 crore to create content in the Indian context. At the same time, production houses with immense production experience, knowledge about what content consumers prefer are venturing from linear TV to OTT. Many production houses have already made the collection of their content available for platforms like YouTube. Most of them have already started reaching out to other rising OTT platforms of preference in India such as Hotstar, Sony LIV, Hoichoi, Eros Now, and Sun NXT. In fact, according to a Counterpoint Technology survey, it has been found that Hotstar is the most popular OTT platform in India.Source: India OTT Video Content Market SurveySoon theatres will become experience centers known mostly for their exclusivity soon as audiences will be able to watch quality content both old and new, at a fraction of the cost in the comfort of their homes. OTT subscriptions have become the latest weapons in India’s Telecom war: India’s telecom price war is back after a hiatus and the battle is being fought on freebies. At Rs 6.7 ($0.09) per gigabyte (GB), the average cost of mobile data in India is the cheapest in the world, according to the Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing report for 2020 by UK-based Price comparison firm Cable.co.uk. With the proliferation of smartphones and the availability of internet connectivity at a cheaper rate coupled with extended lockdowns and its repercussions, OTT seems to be the next normal in the world of entertainment. Therefore, telecom carriers are offering incentives such as subscriptions to services from Netflix to Amazon Prime to win customers in a content-hungry market. India’s biggest telecom company by virtue of the number of subscribers, Reliance Jio Infocomm ltd. Has announced a new 399–rupee plan for postpaid users. Besides 75 GB of data, customers get access to Netflix on a mobile device, a one-year subscription to two OTT applications, and access to Jio’s movies and songs. These are some instances to show that the Indian customer is spoilt for choice. An explosion in kids’ education & entertainment (edutainment) options: Stories have been the building blocks of our childhood days. India is one of the oldest living cultures and abounds in stories that delve into morality, philosophy, sociology, fantasy, etc. In this digital age, stories are molded into new formats to suit the modern palette and shape a whole new generation. According to a 2019 PricewaterhouseCoopers report, in 2018, more than 40% of new internet users in the world were children. Around 1,70,000 kids get online daily. Broadcasters in the kids’ entertainment space are making the most of this shifting content consumption patterns to create India-inspired characters and storylines that resonate with today’s young audiences. In a 2019 report by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the share of localized content across national kids’ entertainment channels detailed an increase from 33% in 2016 to 39% in 2018. There is a huge market in the kid’s genre and along with the international players like POGO, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, homegrown Indian brands like VOOT kids, Hungama Kids, Zee5 Kids are fighting for a share of the market. In the field of kid’s education, owing to shut down and indefinite closure of schools, a Bobble.AI report states that Edtech platforms such as Udemy, Unacademy, and Byjus, which have posted an 82.73% increase in time spent, along with a 122.62% increase in engagement and 25.12% increase in DAU’s. Udemy has seen a 119.05% increase in time spent, with a 36.93% increase in engagement. Application of OTT in Corporate e-Learning: From Classroom-Based Learning (CBL) to a more flexible, informal, and collaborative process, the process of learning has evolved over time.  The global LMS market size is expected to grow from USD 13.4 billion in 2020 to USD 25.7 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.0% during the forecast period. Increase in adoption of digital learning, corporates’ inclination towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and enterprise mobility, widespread government initiatives for the growth of LMS, application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in LMS is increasing the significance of eLearning in corporate and academic setups. At a time when physically attending training is a distant idea, organizations can meet their learning objectives by incorporating a corporate e-learning solution. It empowers organizations to train their remote workforce and enable them for future needs. On being asked regarding the biggest challenges he is facing in up-skilling people and navigating through these challenges during the pandemic situation, N.K. Mohapatra, CEO of Electronics Sector Skills Council of India (ESSCI) vouched on the efficacy of state-of-the-art Learning Management Systems. Currently, one of the interesting projects under his aegis is where the ESSCI is upskilling and certifying 1,00,000 AC technicians in the best practices and use of environment-friendly gases under the HMPM project in partnership with the ozone Cell under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.In this era of Netflix and YouTube, an efficient Learning Management Solution (LMS) empowers employees with the flexibility to access training at their own will and pace. With features like advanced search and filtering, employees can search and consume relevant materials whenever needed. In addition to the flexibility to learn, gamification in such solutions helps in higher engagement levels and can even help in improving overall retention too. Online gaming has surged during the lockdown: Gaming apps topped the new downloads category on both Android and iOS phones in Q1 of 2020. Online gaming continues to grow even after a stellar 2019. The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has mentioned that Online Gaming has grown by 12% during the lockdown. In an interview, Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF said, “Online skill gaming hasn’t seen any adverse impact since players are participating digitally unlike in physical gaming. Online card games and digital e-sports have seen a higher uptick in the past few weeks as people look for ways to pass time indoors. The volume of data going towards online gaming is also growing and will continue to grow if this situation persists.” Especially around the younger population and the conducive environment, gaming could emerge to be a major beneficiary of the overall digital ecosystem. Media companies and OTT providers especially can look at adding gaming as a potent extension to their ecosystem offerings. Fitness industry seeks virtual presence via OTT: Gyms in India closed when the lockdown restrictions were strictly levied. According to a Bobble.AI report, besides video conferencing apps, and websites, fitness applications such as Lose Weight, Cure.fit, recorded a 104.53% rise in daily active users (DAUs) with engagement rate increasing by 14.72% and time spent on the app increasing by 39.50%. Video streaming platforms having got an opportunity to expand their offerings into genres like health & fitness have entered into strategic alliances to cater to the increased demand and emerging audience segments. For instance, Disney+ Hotstar has partnered with Brilliant Wellness, a fitness, yoga, and nutrition content producer to introduce content curated from its fitness experts, yoga, and spiritual gurus, along with celebrity nutritionists spread across 100 programs. Start-ups like Sarva and CultFit, also brought their workout models on to the video streaming service. VOOT, the VoD platform owned by Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, has associated with Cult.fit and ZEE5 has collaborated with Dabur Honey to launch a chat show – Dabur Honey Hello Fitness besides a range of fitness programs in partnership with its live events vertical ZEE LIVE. Redefining Sports through OTT: Sports content has traditionally been the largest contributor to the revenues for all Pay-TV services. The disruption of sports broadcasting due to Covid-19 has led to significant erosion of revenue for operators and Pay-TV providers.  Yet at a time, when social distancing norms have disrupted live sports, Star & Disney India in the form of Disney+Hotstar VIP have given great joy to a cricket crazy nation. Thanks to this initiative, fans of the Indian Premier League can now join a virtual community that will allow them to enjoy the matches with their friends and fellow cricket aficionados in real-time. To make even more interactive they can share selfies and videos during this year’s Dream11 Indian Premier League. OTT platforms have helped keep the sanity intact in these difficult times by being a major source of entertainment. Almost every streaming service under the sun is offering free trials and consumers are lapping up the trials. However, the real test is customer retention achieved not just with great content but also great technology. To provide a seamless experience for content viewing, OTT providers need to adopt technology in all the phases of the OTT subscriber’s lifecycle, and it starts with content discovery. Application of AI & ML will help personalize the search experience by understanding the customer psyche and offering the right content at the right time. References: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/learning-management-systems-market-1266.html https://www.techmahindra.com/en-in/blog/what-the-future-holds-for-ott-players/ https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/media/how-ott-market-will-be-a-game-changer-for-the-film-industry/75658326 https://www.dacast.com/blog/4-ott-trends-to-watch-2020/ https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200818005479/en/Streamed-Video-Content-Dominates-Media-and-Entertainment-Consumption-in-India-According-to-the-Brightcove-Q2-2020-Global-Video-Index https://www.emarketer.com/content/india-time-spent-with-media-2020 https://inc42.com/buzz/binge-on-datalabs-indias-ott-market-landscape-report-2020/ https://qz.com/india/1860740/otts-netflix-erosnow-work-around-covid-19-in-india/ https://www.livemint.com/news/india/streaming-platforms-offer-fitness-spiritual-content-11594196122047.html https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/09/09/ott-technology-censorship-and-the-future/#4d59a4cc7721 (This post was originally published here.) The post Future of OTT in India appeared first on NASSCOM Community |The Official Community of Indian IT Industry.


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a seamless and channel-integrated marketing strategy for banking, aimed at offering a personalised customer experience and delivering the right message (at the right moment) whichever channel the customer is using. In our digital age, consumers fuel the omnichannel revolution and expect a frictionless experience in each aspect of their life, especially the financial one. To stay relevant, sustain growth, and lead among competitors, banks must tackle the challenge of overcoming fragmented channels and closing the online and offline divide. This can be done in a number of ways. Omnichannel experiences One example is by orchestrating omnichannel experiences for the individual banking consumer, tracking the unique journey for each, and leveraging data-driven insights to anticipate and meet their ever-evolving needs. A personalised customer experience is a key element in the bank-customer relationship, which is the focus of every banking strategy, no matter what the channel is – whether it be physical (branch) or digital (mobile, internet, social). It needs to adapt to the channel as well as the customer. The relationship, therefore, needs to include voice, conversation, technology, and data analysis that translates into an integrated and synergistic marketing strategy. A strategy that passes through the branch, a place where it is possible to funnel every phase of the customer experience - from welcoming customers and consulting to product sales and assistance. There needs to be a digital strategy put in place, which does not neglect the human aspect, and which aims to preserve the territorial presence, co-create value together with the customer, and at the same time enhance the role of consultants in terms of skills. Banks need to provide customers with a tailored approach. This can be done by targeted marketing, where a message or campaign is aimed at a specific user at the right time to transform each touch point into a channel tailored to each type of customer. Hence, financial institutions require a solution that allow them to configure and manage marketing and information campaigns for prospects and customers. Whatever method they choose, they must not forget the human aspect. For example, the process of automating large-scale services cannot ignore the importance of human contact, and instead aim for a truly integrated and enhanced brand experience. The solution is an omnichannel marketing solution, where each channel becomes a marketing tool capable of delivering a single and uniform message in line with the bank's strategy or differentiating campaigns in the context of a multi-message marketing plan. This in turn provides a new banking experience for both the customer and the bank, therefore maximising the potential of each individual interaction. A successfull marketing strategy for banking The greatest potential for AI in marketing is around the opportunity to deliver personalisation and relevance at scale. As consumers engage with their bank and more transaction and behavioural insights are collected, the consumer expects interactions with their bank to be more contextual and bespoke. Most financial organisations have such a huge pool of data that they do not know how to use it effectively, but that is quickly changing. Today, customer experience platforms and automation tools make it easier than ever to utilise and apply data as part of a company’s marketing efforts. For instance, big data can tell you who is saving up for a big purchase and most likely to need pre-approval for a loan. It can help business leaders to identify and offer services before or after they are needed, whilst helping to target specific customers for additional customer service or education and can assist in minimising the need for customer service. Auriga's NextGenBranch focuses on AI Auriga’s NextGenBranch provides banks with a data-driven platform that aims to improve the user experience on all bank channels, even in the fully automated remote branch. Its benefits include a personalised customer journey, informative and promotional messages, contextual marketing messages, and improved customer satisfaction. Plus, there is the option for interactive feedback request messages that will help the bank to enhance the user experience and therefore boost customer retention. The digital transformation of banking makes omnichannel marketing capabilities more valuable than ever. Combining data-driven insights, innovative banking marketing strategies, and robust technologies to automate and augment their efforts. Banks can meet their customers’ omnichannel banking expectations, deliver high-impact communications, create lasting connections, and fuel top-line


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current pandemic’s impact on individuals and organisations within the banking sector is ever evolving. It has been predicted that the economic environment post-coronavirus is likely to be tough, with a long and difficult journey to recovery. In the past few months, financial organisations have attempted to show adaptability and flexibility in these times by operating to protect the health of their customers and employees, whilst ensuring that banking services remain consistent and fully available to their customers. As so much has changed over the past couple of months, banks need to re-adjust to the radical transformation in the way they do banking moving forward, as well as rethink the way they serve their customers and prospects. Banks are changing the way they do things, this can include educating and helping their customers to shift to digital, by attempting to strengthen the connection they have with their customers through efficient one-to-one marketing capabilities. How the #newnormal is the new trend While the financial services industry has changed during the course of the pandemic, so has customer behaviour and needs. According to the McKinsey Consumer Pulse Survey on the pandemic (conducted in mid-April in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and UK), digital engagement levels among European customers have increased by 20 percent, 30 to 40 percent of customers have expressed a greater need for advice, and 20 to 40 percent request products to aid them through this crisis. This has definitely driven banks to innovate their products and propositions for customers. The pandemic has triggered a number of financial needs from customers that have to be addressed imminently. Because of this, banks will have to use their advanced analytical skills and tools to understand how to feasibly serve their customers best and create a personalised offer for them. This has also forced a shift to digital sales and a reshaping of physical distribution. The financial services industry post-pandemic will find itself moving towards a purpose-driven culture. Moving from a control-based culture to one based on strong values that are supported by smart controls may prove to be far more effective in pushing European banks towards a stable position, especially in a future that is predicted to be volatile. Seeing as the majority of customers under 55 prefer to engage with banks that are guided by values - according to McKinsey Panorama Financial Institutions Insights -  it would seem that this is much more essential. Despite the fact that UK customers are still worried about the economy during the pandemic, pessimism has decreased in the past few weeks according to a UK survey from June 18–21, 2020. As the pandemic has accelerated consumer behaviour shifts and caused significant earnings challenges, it will be a task for banks to reinvent themselves, given the difficult macro-economic context and extensive risk of financial distress for both consumers and businesses. Banks will have to search for new product launch opportunities, alongside reorienting offerings with an advisory and protection focus. Advanced analytics can aid banks in locating relevant niches of prudent growth, but this should also be in cohesion with the digital transformation of sales journeys and marketing. What about banking services? For financial services organisations, the challenge is not only to improve digital service journeys, but to also decrease agent time spent on activities of low-value with, for instance, “human-like” interactive voice response (IVR) resolution acting as a substitute. In the banking industry post-covid, we will find that human-centred remote channels will evolve significantly. Remote access will become a key component of supporting customer needs and the branch channel would not be an exception. Indeed, bank branches will also evolve to solve the complex needs of customers. While the current pandemic has fuelled the decline in branch preference, 30 to 50 percent of banking customers still prefer the channel for help with complex products or services - according to the Financial Decision Maker Pulse Survey. Bank branches will increase the use of self-service with limited cash availability at the counters, given the decline in usage over recent weeks. The new normal will show a decrease in basic banking needs, as low as five percent. This will significantly affect the mix of branch staff competences, giving them more flexible job configurations. As many financial services businesses have repositioned their front-line employees to supporting roles, often working from the same place, this may change the action of branch closures. Banks may be able to keep more marginal branches open than before, under the guidance of advisors being deployed for customer-related tasks in a productive manner. Slowly, but surely, financial institutions are adapting to the new normal in order to stay relevant and


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We are at a turning point in the digital transformation, according to a new report from the OECD. Improved internet connectivity and skills have helped many countries to cope with the health and economic crisis from Covid-19. Yet the pandemic has raised the bar for the digital transition and underscores the need to close the …


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This Digital Project Manager course gives you lifetime access to remote project management resources.


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To innovate and survive, organizations must develop core business skills in their digital talent.


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CISA’s prospective hires include recent college graduates as well as younger applicants that are digital natives.


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The school would train students to gain digital skills, like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, to work primarily for the government. Students would get a traditional school year of coursework, with internships in the public and private sector during summers.


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Our chat with the star


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NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell has chosen to put Cesar Conde — chairman of Telemundo and the company's international business — in charge of a newly-formed NBCUniversal News Group. The new division will put NBC News, MSNBC and financial news channel CNBC under the same roof.


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Discovery is launching a new 90 Day Fiancé tentpole series, a topiary competition series with Michael Urie and Martha Stewart and a road-trip adventure series as part of its ambitious original cont…


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Today, Google and the SHRM Foundation announced a partnership committed to connecting diverse tech talent with opportunities at major companies across the United States.


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To ideate new voice activated products and expand the availability of voice recognition service across consumer and industrial digital appliances, LTTS will deliver scale in capabilities, skills and capacity, access to new markets and specialization in technology and vertical domains for global enterprises


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Here's what you should know if you want to work from home.


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This Connecticut-based machine shop uses state-of-the-art manufacturing technology to outmaneuver the U.S. skills gap and outperform low-cost international competitors.


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Your digital guide to cultivating new talents to build your résumé or just pass the time.


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Digital advertising company boss Gordon Campbell has warned of a "worrying" skills gap in the sector.


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Randall Gaboriault, chief digital and information officer at ChristianaCare, walks through how his organization is using Alexa Skills to help patients and sets up the future of healthcare.


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The Influencers – The changemakers, in front of or behind the scenes Steve Anderson Owners and Developer, SAMM Properties Steve Anderson, who began a career as a salesman at an early age, is perhaps best known for the large amount of office space he’s created in the Wilmington area.   Why he's an influencer this year: In addition to having a major impact on the Mayfaire/ Landfall submarket through The Offices at Mayfaire complex, 2020 saw the opening of one of Anderson’s latest developments, Bradley Creek Station on Oleander Drive. Bradley Creek Station is an 80,000-square-foot project that includes retail space and office condominiums. Tenants include First Carolina Bank and Big Sky Design.   Anderson also developed Anderson Square on Oleander Drive, Howe Creek Landing off Military Cutoff Road, The Offices at Airlie and the 17th Street Medical Park.   Anderson has developed 420,000 square feet in the Mayfaire/Bradley Creek area and more than 550,000 square feet of additional commercial retail and office space.   Career start: In the late 1970s, Anderson, a senior at Hoggard High School, bought some Lacoste shirts at a low price from a manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem, and he sold them out of the trunk of his car at lunchtime. Amy Beatty Community Services Director, City of Wilmington Amy Beatty, who moved to Wilmington in the early 1990s, has worked in different roles in the city government’s parks and recreation division. In her current position as community services director, she oversees the city’s parks and recreation, community development and code enforcement functions. Why she's an influencer this year: Despite the changes in gatherings this year, the work Beatty’s office has done is looking to improve Wilmington’s quality-of-life amenities for years to come.   The city’s long-planned North Waterfront Park began to take shape this year as construction started in earnest on the 6.6-acre piece of land downtown. The park, at 10 Cowan St. along the Cape Fear River, is planned to include a concert venue and festival space, a playground, a splash pad, trails and other features. Officials have said it should open by next summer.   Under Beatty’s direction, the city also secured an agreement with Live Nation to manage the Hugh Morton Amphitheater.   On other city-owned recreation areas, the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course has seen record rounds of play this year and is restoring its fund balance after the 2014 course renovations. The city also is building its first new public gymnasium in generations.   Tree target: 1,739 – The number of trees the city has a goal of planting by the fall of 2021 to replace ones lost because of storms and development. Beatty said the city is on track to exceed the number, which is a reference to the year Wilmington was incorporated, by February. Rhonda Bellamy Executive Director, The Arts Council of Wilmington/ New Hanover County Rhonda Bellamy has served as executive director of the arts council since it formed in 2012. She has more than 20 years of experience in broadcast news. Bellamy was previously the news director for Cumulus Media’s five-station radio cluster in Wilmington and hosted a daily talk show. She hosts the art- and culture-based show “Around Town with Rhonda Bellamy” on WHQR.   Why she’s an influencer this year:   Bellamy has played a key role this year in pushing for the Wilmington Rail Trail, a proposal to develop a multimodal project for the downtown rail corridor between North Third and McRae streets.   The Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Friends of the Wilmington Rail Trail began a master plan, funded by the WMPO and a donation from the arts council.   The plan intends to look at how to use the former Atlantic Coast Line rail bed corridor for bicycles, pedestrians and potentially passenger rail service.   This fall, proponents, including Bellamy, wrapped up a public survey on the trail so that a Raleigh-based consulting firm can finalize the master plan.   The trail’s also envisioned to include public art exhibits, such as sculptures and murals.   “We always wanted this to be a community effort, and longtime residents of the Northside neighborhood are very excited,” Bellamy said. “They know the value of a park in that area.”   In politics: Bellamy also organized, along with UNCW’s CIE, an elections forum this year with local and state candidates. Rob Burrus Dean, UNCW Cameron School of Business Robert Burrus was named dean of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Cameron School of Business in 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Before his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance.   Why he’s an influencer this year: In challenging times, the faculty of the Cameron School of Business, led by Burrus, embraced new technologies in its classrooms and aimed to continue offering business classes. Even with COVID, the school was reaffirmed for AACSB accreditation for business schools. In addition, Cameron was ranked in the top 60 on Poets & Quants’ list of Best Undergraduate Business Schools and was again listed on The Princeton Review’s list of Best Business Schools. The Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics and Information Systems is developing a master’s program in supply chain management.   Student numbers: In 2020, Cameron School of Business’ enrollment was at an all-time high of more than 2,700 students.   Wes Carter President, Atlantic Packaging Wes Carter joined the more than 75-year-old, family-run firm full time in 2002 and assumed the role of president in 2016. He helps lead a team of about 1,400 employees companywide.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Carter is helping lead the firm’s continued expansion of its national footprint, on top of expanding its corporate headquarters facility in Wilmington.   Carter led Atlantic Packaging’s team at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the firm’s manufacturing operations, shipping departments and warehouses functioning as an essential business. Throughout this year, the company saw a growing customer base and record sales.   The firm made investments in new manufacturing capabilities across the organization. It also committed to a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 as a part of its mission to create, support and manage sustainable systems in packaging and commerce.   Carter, along with his father and firm CEO Rusty Carter, helped Atlantic Packaging bring to market the first paperboard beverage carrier, a partnership with Fishbone Packaging Inc., to replace single-use plastic beverage carrier rings.   Officials completed a 17,300-square-foot expansion and renovation of its corporate headquarters in Wilmington.   No. of locations: 21 Cody Cress Owner, The Cress Group at Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners In addition to being owner of The CRESS Group, Cody Cress is vice president at Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners and an active investor and developer of commercial real estate. Since joining CBC Sun Coast in 2007, Cress has closed more than 500 transactions. As a commercial real estate adviser, Cress assists and influences businesses to relocate, remain or expand in the Wilmington area.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Cress assisted Pacon Manufacturing with its relocation from New Jersey to Southeastern North Carolina, helping in the economic development project that could yield big returns for the Brunswick County town of Navassa.   The company has announced plans to bring 300 jobs and invest more than $30 million at the facility. Pacon is a contract manufacturer for major companies such as Clorox, Revlon, Johnson & Johnson and Burt’s Bees, making wipes, pads, towels and liquids for consumer, industrial and medical industries.   Current project: Cress is working with Renewal by Andersen, Andersen windows affiliate, to expand its operations to the region. Ken Dull President, McKinley Building Corp. Beginning his construction career in 1985, McKinley “Ken” Dull founded McKinley Building in 1992. Since then, the company has become one of the city’s leading, locally owned commercial builders with more than 300 projects in its portfolio.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Dull has completed and is currently involved in numerous high-profile projects in the Cape Fear region, including finishing Bradley Creek Station, an 80,000-square-foot office and retail building on Oleander Drive, and redoing The Harrelson Center in downtown Wilmington, among many others.   This fall, the company started work to add a building to Quality Chemical Laboratories’ campus on Corporate Drive.   Some of McKinley Building’s recently completed work includes Sawmill Point, a downtown Wilmington waterfront apartment community, which sold last year for $65 million. The company also built an $18-million, five-story parking deck and pedestrian bridge at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. His company has been hired to construct a second parking deck and pedestrian bridge for the hospital.   Spacious: McKinley Building built 200,000 square feet of space in six buildings that make up The Offices at Mayfaire. Jeff Earp President, Funston Farms, Brunswick Forest and Funston Co. Jeff Earp has described himself as a landowner and farmer who has a construction company. But he was instrumental in the development of the master-planned community Brunswick Forest.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Earp continues to shape Brunswick Forest in northern Brunswick County, with more than 3,000 lots developed.   According to an October update to residents from Earp, he is working with builders and other developers on a long-term plan to sell the remaining land of the Brunswick Forest parcel. The update does not say exactly how many developable acres are left of the 4,500-acre master planned development in Leland, but it mentions current or future plans for nearly 1,000.   Earp is also part of a development team planning an $8.5 million industrial building, the International Commerce Center, in the International Logistics Park of North Carolina, one of two megasites near the Brunswick and Columbus county line.   Of note: The International Commerce Center, a spec building, will be the first development in the International Logistics Park. (Photo courtesy of the N.C. Pork Council) Brian Eckel Partner, Cape Fear Commercial/GHK Cape Fear Development Brian Eckel co-founded Cape Fear Commercial with Vin Wells in 2001 and has had a major impact on commercial real estate, development and the local business community.   Why he’s an influencer this year: This year, Cape Fear Commercial (CFC) has avoided layoffs while increasing revenue in the midst of a pandemic, and the team worked with hundreds of landlords and tenants on mutually agreeable rent deferments. Eckel also helped grow CFC’s property management portfolio to over 3 million square feet and surpassed $2 billion in brokerage volume.   GHK Cape Fear Development has more than 1,000 apartment units and more than $125 million under development in 2020.   As a New Hanover Regional Medical Center trustee and Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) member, Eckel participated in the NHRMC and Novant- UNC deal.   As a Wilmington Chamber of Commerce board member, Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association board member, Business Alliance for a Sound Economy board member and member of Cape Fear Realtors, Eckel has helped unify the organizations to work together.   Current projects include: Redevelopment of the New Hanover County Government Center into a mixed-use project; Autumn Hall mixed-use; Echo Farms single-family residential development and 176-unit townhome community Lucien Ellison Senior Managing Partner, East West Partners Lucien Ellison has been a real estate professional in the Cape Fear region since 2005. His expertise includes mixed-use development, single-family neighborhood development and residential general contracting. In 2015, he joined East West Partners as the Wilmington partner and project manager for River Place.   Why he’s an influencer this year: River Place, a mixed-use community with condominiums, apartments, retail and parking located on the Cape Fear River, is one of the biggest projects downtown Wilmington has ever seen. River Place has activated Water Street between Chestnut and Grace streets, replacing a defunct parking garage from the 1960s. The project has also been the catalyst for other recent projects in downtown Wilmington.   Ellison is also involved in the nearly complete Common Desk Wilmington, a coworking office space on Front Street in downtown Wilmington.   Other upcoming Wilmington projects for East West Partners include Project Indigo and Project Gateway, which is expected to bring office, retail and residential space along with the possibility of a grocery store to downtown.   Southport project: Project Indigo is a nearly 400-acre, $565 million development planned by East West and Bald Head Island Limited. Natalie English President And CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Natalie English became president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce in 2017. She has been a chamber executive for more than 20 years, including previously with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.   Why she’s an influencer this year: English has directed several initiatives and advocacy campaigns this year, on top of creating innovative ways to keep the chamber running and find funding in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled many of the organization’s events.   At the start of the pandemic in the spring, English led chamber efforts to advocate with government officials about what should be defined as an essential business. She also helped different industry sectors navigate through government-imposed restrictions on businesses.   English led her team to maximize chamber resources to help in business recovery efforts.   She is also working with regional economist Adam Jones to develop a program for business and community leaders to reflect on the region’s past economic scorecards and ways to help affect a post-COVID economic recovery.   The chamber organized an educational campaign during the exploration period for potential partnerships for New Hanover Regional Medical Center. English also helped launch the Latin American Business Council this year.   Other work: Member of the N.C. Chamber’s Destination 2030 Coalition; co-chair of the Wilmington’s Clean Energy Task Force Terry Espy President, Downtown Business Alliance and Momentum Companies   President of MoMentum Companies, Terry Espy’s career in real estate development and brokerage spans more than 30 years. She was named president of Wilmington’s Downtown Business Alliance in 2016.   Why she’s an influencer this year: In her Downtown Business Alliance (DBA) role, Espy has helped lead efforts to support downtown business owners through the COVID-19 pandemic, including pushing for closed streets and parklets, which are blocked-off parking spaces, to allow restaurants to expand their outdoor space. The effort, dubbed Downtown Alive, continued from the summer through November with Espy’s help and contributions.   Espy also keeps downtown business owners in the loop on the latest news. Throughout downtown, she has coordinated the sale or lease of numerous historical properties for tech and business service companies and has continued her work with commercial real estate projects in the area while also leading DBA.   Food fact: She played a role in drawing Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, a restaurant by celebrity chef Vivian Howard, to the South Front redevelopment project. The Trask Family The Trask Family can trace its roots in the Cape Fear region back to the 18th century, later making a name for themselves as successful lettuce farmers and then landowners and prominent developers.   Why they’re influencers this year: Trask Land Co. in 2020 revealed plans for two communities on more than 500 acres owned for decades by the Trask Family.   Trask Land Co. officials envision that the communities – one on 159 acres at the northeast quadrant of the interchange of Interstate 40 and Interstate 140 and one on 350 acres at the southeast quadrant – would include apartments, single-family homes and townhomes.   The Trask Family has a history of providing the land that becomes home sites in the area. In the 1950s, the family purchased land that would one day become a master-planned, mixed-use development on Eastwood Road called Autumn Hall, now considered a sought-after address in the region that’s growing.   Members of the Trask Family started out as farmers. Over the years, they used their farmland to enter the development industry, with Raiford Graham Trask Sr. creating major subdivisions throughout Wilmington.   Raiford Graham Trask Sr.’s son and grandson, Raiford Trask Jr. and Raiford Trask III, respectively, have developed Autumn Hall and other current and forthcoming projects in the Cape Fear region.   Number of note: Trask Land has developed more than 500 residential lots since 2010. Joe Finley Co-founder, CastleBranch Joe Finley is the co-founder of the local background screening company CastleBranch and the startup coworking space tekMountain. He also helped create Connected by Cause, a platform that highlights people and organizations making a difference in underserved communities.   Why he’s an influencer this year: While Finley helped grow CastleBranch for over 23 years, a company with about 460 employees, he is now focusing his efforts on advocating for the Wilmington community through Connected by Cause and other organizations.   In 2020, Finley joined the board of Cape Fear Collective, a nonprofit that uses data and social innovation to highlight and address social issues in the region. In the business community, Finley is centered on diversity and inclusion, especially considering Wilmington's troublesome racial past, he said.   Finley has supported Tracey and Girard Newkirk, founders of Genesis Block, a coworking space in downtown Wilmington, with a focus on Black business owners/entrepreneurs. This year, through Finley’s backing, CastleBranch and tekMountain partnered with Genesis Block to create an app to assist Black-owned businesses, also including a $50,000 investment.   Other 2020 involvements: Northside Food Co-op, Wilmington on Fire: Chapter II, WARM capital campaign Jim Flechtner Executive Director, CFPUA Jim Flechtner was promoted to executive director in 2013, previously serving the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority as chief operations officer. He leads an organization of more than 300 employees and a $90 million annual operation budget. He is set to retire next summer.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Flechtner led CFPUA’s efforts to adapt operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as keeping the Wilmington area’s water and sewer services running uninterrupted.   Flechtner has also overseen the organization’s progress on several key projects this year. CFPUA completed its Northern Water Mains Project, a $4.5 million installation that increased capacity to northern New Hanover County. The utility also made upgrades to its filter membrane technology at the Richardson Water Treatment Plant.   The utility has made progress on its $43 million addition of deep-bed granular activated carbon filters at Sweeney Water Treatment to reduce PFAS, such as GenX, in raw water and construction on an additional raw water line to increase capacity. The raw water line is being built in partnership with Brunswick County and the Lower Cape Fear Water & Sewer Authority.   CFPUA’S service reach in New Hanover County: 200,000 people   Charles Foust Superintendent, New Hanover County Schools Charles Foust started as head of the New Hanover County school system in September, moving from Kansas City, where he had served as superintendent of the Kansas district.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Though he’s new to the area, as head of the region’s largest school system, Foust jumped into the job during shut-down schools and a shift to remote, online learning for 26,500 students in the district.   He led the partial reopening of schools – at the direction of the county’s school board – for two days a week for students, in conjunction with public health officials to monitor local COVID-19 data.   Foust worked with the district’s transportation department to help develop bus routes with health considerations and supported the child nutrition and transportation departments to deliver and prepare more than a million meals to New Hanover County students during the pandemic.   Current focuses include working with the school system’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee for students to receive the same educational experience and have access to adequate resources and technology. Another focus is “increasing transparency and accountability utilizing various communication tools and programs such as Ethix360,” an online reporting form as the system grapples with allegations of sexual abuse cases.   Team numbers: With nearly 4,200 employees, the school system is one of the largest employers in the county. Anne Gardner CEO, Cape Fear Realtors Anne Gardner was hired for the organization’s top post by Cape Fear Realtors officials in 2019. Gardner was previously CEO of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. She has two decades of experience in leadership in real estate associations. Why she's an influencer this year: Gardner leads an organization with 3,100 Realtor members and earlier this year lobbied to make sure real estate was deemed an essential service by the state during the COVID-19 lockdown. She also led the way for CFR’s Safe Showing Pledge, making sure members pledged to hold safe home showings during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the housing market nationally and locally recovered quickly in 2020 and went back to breaking records again in the summer, with double-digit increases year-over-year. This summer, the group published the first in a series of white papers and public comments on land use, housing affordability, environmental stewardship and economic development.  Speaking of safety: The first trade group Gardner worked for was the American Industrial Hygiene Association, which was all about worker health and safety. Johnny Griffin Director, Wilmington Regional Film Commission   Serving and supporting the region’s film industry for more than three decades, Johnny Griffin became director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission in 1999.   Why he’s an influencer this year:   Griffin’s activities have helped the region secure hundreds of jobs in and related to filming productions and help bring in millions in wages, goods and services generated by the industry each year.   He led the Wilmington area into a potentially strong film year, with several projects filming and others pending arrival in the spring.   For six months, the area experienced a lull in activity because of the coronavirus, while Griffin and other film leaders worked to prepare for the return of the industry.   Filming restarted in September under new COVID-19 protocols. Griffin helped area projects with what they needed to run sets and film under new guidelines. Several productions, including two television series Hightown and This Country and a feature film, Scream 5, started work. And the momentum is slated to continue, as Griffin expects other projects to arrive before the end of the year to start filming in 2021.   This year, officials expect to be in the range of about $65 million in direct spending from Wilmingtonarea productions. But despite the break in productions this year, Griffin projects that the area’s 2020 production spending will exceed expenditure levels of 2016, 2017 and 2018.   Wilmington’s 2019 film projects direct spending: Over $130 million Kim Hufham President And CEO, New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority Leading an agency that does business as Wilmington and Beaches CVB, Kim Hufham has faced disasters before. They’ve come in the form of hurricanes, but 2020 provided a bigger challenge, bringing a global pandemic that shut tourism down for several months.   Why she’s an influencer this year: Hufham steered the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau to tourism recovery efforts, helping shift its market focus to adapt and made sure it served as a source of information and resources for those in the industry.   The CVB also kept visitors informed of status changes and safety protocols in the Wilmington area, conducted a visitor research study and released results to the community, secured grants for recovery marketing and partnered with VisitNC on safety programs, including Count On Me NC, among other accomplishments.   Big bucks: Visitor spending in New Hanover County generated nearly $659 million in 2019. Chris Isenhour Physician, Novant Health Chris Isenhour is physician leader for Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine and Convenient Care, is board certified in family medicine and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Why he’s an influencer this year: This year, Isenhour led his clinic to serve as Brunswick County’s primary COVID-19 screening and respiratory assessment center. The location tested nearly 8,000 patients on top of regularly seeing more than 300 patients daily. In the spring, Isenhour quickly supported the idea to house the county’s busiest testing location and helped make arrangements to relocate staff parking to accommodate the testing areas, arrange for tents and testing supplies, and rearrange provider and clinician schedules. He ensured his team had proper PPE, instruction and the support to serve the community. For the clinic, which has been open since 2006, Isenhour has helped grow it from two providers in 2006 to 16 now, with additional services including ultrasound, X-ray, pulmonary, sleep medicine and occupational health services. The clinic also has been designated as a patient-centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Respected by other physicians in the community, Isenhour has mentored dozens of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who have worked alongside him over the years. Patient load: Annually, the clinic sees more than 50,000 patients. Velva Jenkins CEO, YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear Velva Jenkins, who previously worked as Brunswick Community College’s vice president of Continuing Education, Economic and Workforce Development, got called out of retirement to lead the YWCA in 2019 – first as interim CEO and then as its official head this year.   Why she’s an influencer this year: During a year of social unrest and demonstrations in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Jenkins became a voice in the community to discuss race relations.   She developed the “Talk on Race” series, a virtual discussion about conversations on race. Jenkins also founded a Women on a Mission committee with community leaders, including local representatives from the League of Women Voters, LINC and AKA sorority, with a focus on women’s empowerment and racial justice initiatives in the community.   She advocated getting New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington to proclaim the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples Day.   Organizationally, the YWCA continued to provide child care for essential workers during the pandemic shutdown and spearheaded a “Block to the Ballot” campaign to register voters and fill out the Census.   Jenkins also this year secured a grant from Google to implement YWCA’s STRIVE for a New Beginning, a free professional development program to develop digital skills, entrepreneurship, financial independence, leadership skills and presentation skills for individuals struggling to find and keep living-wage employment to become more competitive in the job market.   Platform: Served as a speaker for the YWomenVote 2020 North Carolina Women’s Virtual Town Hall Adam Jones Regional Economist, UNCW Swain Center Adam Jones took on the role of regional economist for the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Swain Center in 2015. Before working on his Ph.D. in economics, Jones was the director of economic development with the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce in Georgia. Why he’s an influencer this year: Jones helped coordinate the Cameron School of Business’ technical response to the online pivot as a result of COVID-19. He also continued to help support the community through information requests and presentations in a virtual format. His responsibilities included business recruitment, retention and expansion of existing businesses and public policy development. As the region grappled with the shutdown and then partial reopening of the economy, Jones has helped provide local data on the rapid changes and context to what might be ahead. Current projects he’s involved with include examining the economic impact of NCDOT’s super streets design; supporting the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s Scorecard initiative in its COVID-altered version; and supporting Cape Fear Collective’s initiatives where possible. In his words: “I prefer to think of my impacts as facilitating others’ good work. If I can stir creative thought and new perspectives, then I have made my contribution.” Paul Kamitsuka Infectious Disease Physician, Wilmington Health Paul Kamitsuka is a nationally recognized infectious disease expert, who has been performing infectious disease consultations for 38 years and locally for 26 years. He is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases.   Why he’s an influencer this year: In his role as an infectious disease physician for Wilmington Health and chief epidemiologist for NHRMC, Kamitsuka has been a voice of authority during the coronavirus pandemic.   He has advocated for COVID-19 preventions this year, speaking to the media as well as on public service announcements and Zoom interviews to relay info on safety measures and updates on the impact on the community from the virus.   Kamitsuka has provided direct care to COVID-19 patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings.   While Kamitsuka performs clinical medicine daily, he also is a lecturer on various topics in infectious diseases in the Harvard system.   Educational background: Kamitsuka graduated from Harvard Medical School and did his internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Mike Kozlosky Executive Director, Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Mike Kozlosky joined the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) in November 2004 and serves as its executive director, leading a staff of 12 people. At the WMPO, he has been responsible for completing many short- and long-range transportation planning efforts for the region.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Kozlosky oversaw the WMPO’s completion of Cape Fear Moving Forward 2045, which is the blueprint for the region’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure over the next 25 years.   This plan includes project and policy recommendations for aviation; bicycle and pedestrian; ferry and water transportation; freight and freight rail; public transportation; and roadways. It’s the culmination of more than two years of planning for the region’s future.   That plan will be used by federal, state and local governments to guide transportation projects and help secure funding for those projects in the coming decades.   WMPO also was instrumental in getting the funding for Padgett Station, WAVE Transit’s downtown transfer station that opened early this year.   He helped develop the Wilmington Rail Trail master plan in conjunction with local and state officials. And despite funding issues at the state level, Kozlosky helped work with transportation officials to continue planning for the future construction of the Hampstead Bypass. He is a member of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority Board.   WMPO planning area: Nearly 500 square miles David Michael Vice President And CEO-Wilmington, Clancy & Theys Construction Co. David Michael, who started working for the firm more than three decades ago, manages Clancy & Theys Construction Co.’s Wilmington Division that for 36 years has built, renovated and restored many of the most significant buildings in Wilmington and surrounding communities.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Under Michael’s leadership, Clancy & Theys has committed to having the most advanced technology and tools available in the construction industry. According to the firm, Clancy & Theys is focused on harnessing the power of technology to continuously improve the construction services it provides to owners and designers. Since its establishment in 1984, the Wilmington division of Clancy & Theys has completed more than $1 billion worth of construction in Southeastern North Carolina.   Current projects: In addition to the many projects completed downtown, the firm is currently working on the city’s North Waterfront Park, the Aloft Hotel and Coastline Convention Center renovations and the Flats on Front apartment complex overlooking the river and the park. Tim Milam President, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage   Tim Milam has led Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage and the Advantage Family of Companies to its rank as the No. 1 Coldwell Banker company in the United States.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Under Milam’s leadership, Sea Coast Advantage has continued its path of growth through recruiting and acquisition.   This year and during the pandemic, Sea Coast Advantage surpassed $2 billion in closed sales for the second time.   In conjunction with recent mergers, several new offices have also been added to the company’s roster, most recently a downtown Wilmington office at 200 N. Front St. According to the firm, Milam’s efforts to attract and retain the most talented agents and employees are always a top priority.   Aside from his role as president and owner of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, Milam has served in numerous capacities on boards and committees over the years. Currently, he serves on the board and as treasurer of Wilmington Business Development; as chairman of Business Alliance for a Sound Economy’s board; and on the Wilmington- Cape Fear Home Builders Association’s board.   Up next: Additional offices are scheduled to open soon in Emerald Isle and Boiling Spring Lakes. John Monteith CEO, Monteith Construction Corp. John Monteith founded Monteith Construction Corp. in Charlotte in 1998, and the firm opened a Wilmington office in 2005.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Monteith Construction has continued building throughout the Cape Fear region in 2020.   Projects such as the Wilmington International Airport terminal expansion, the renovations of Noble Middle and Wrightsville Beach Elementary schools and the New Hanover County Health and Human Services building, as well as an additional mixed-use building at Riverlights, a 1,400-acre planned community on River Road, have all had an impact on the growth and development in this area.   In addition to his role as the company’s CEO, Monteith founded the Camp Schreiber Foundation in 2010 to help young men of superior need, ambition, ability and character develop into college-educated leaders.   Employee count: Monteith has more than 100 full-time employees. John Nichols Director, Brunswick County Public Utilities   John Nichols started his role as director of Brunswick County Public Utilities in early 2017. He worked for Brunswick County for more than 10 years as assistant director of public utilities.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Nichols is leading a $129 million expansion at the county’s Northwest Water Treatment Plant and a reverse osmosis water treatment project. The utility also initiated the $48 million construction of the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, along with other expansions at plants in the county.   In response to GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River, Brunswick County is installing advanced water treatment technology. Nichols also led efforts to merge the city of Northwest’s and the town of Navassa’s water and sewer utilities with the county.   The utility has worked with Columbus County and economic developers to bring water and wastewater infrastructure projects to two major industrial parks along U.S. 74/76. He leads the utility to work actively with Brunswick Business and Industry Development on other projects to provide water and wastewater service to new and existing facilities.   No. of employees: 132 Chad Paul CEO, Bald Head Island Limitted LLC-Mitchell Family Corp. Chad Paul previously was a partner at Arnolt Partners LLC, a private equity firm headquartered in Indianapolis. He is a second-generation legacy owner of Commercial Realty Co., founded in 1972. He also worked in the investment banking industry, principally specializing in the distressed securities area.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Paul leads the entity that is the principal developer and resort operator of Bald Head Island, an island resort that’s 3 miles off the southern coast of Southport in Brunswick County and contains some of the highest-priced real estate in North Carolina.   In 2020, Paul, along with officials from development partner East West Partners, announced Project Indigo, a nearly 400-acre, $565 million development planned on an important piece of property near Southport.   Paul also currently serves as managing partner of Harbor Island Partners LLC, a private equity firm headquartered in Wilmington since 2000.   Long run: Paul said Project Indigo would be a 10- to 15- year transaction. Chris Ramm COO, Taylor Development Group LLC Chris Ramm has been in the commercial real estate industry for 24 years. He became COO of Taylor Development Group in 2018, tasked with growing the firm’s office and industrial portfolio. He formed Ramm Capital Partners in 2019 and is which aims to enable new development projects and strategic partnerships while diversifying risk for Taylor Development Group.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Ramm is currently involved in two projects that will bring new industrial space to the Wilmington area.   He helped bring the first modern industrial building in the region in over a decade, a 127,000-square-foot spec building in the Pender Commerce Park, to promote local business growth and help attract jobs to the area.   Working alongside economic developers and a development team, he is planning another spec building in the county-owned industrial park. The design process is ongoing, and the land purchase could close in early 2021. The building is anticipated to be completed late next year to offer more versatility and functionality than its predecessor project.   Ramm is also leading efforts to expand the group’s Wilmington office portfolio with another property slated to close in early 2021.   Past renovations: Landfall Park North; Landfall Park South; and Third and Grace streets building Chris Reid President and COO, Thomas Construction Group After graduating from Auburn University, Chris Reid went to work for Miller Building Corp. He then went to work for several major contractors before returning to Wilmington to start Thomas Construction Group in 2005.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Thomas Construction this year worked on or is currently working on the Pender County Courthouse renovation; two UNCW projects; Kerr Avenue student living project Uncommon Lofts; the renovation of Atlantic Packaging; the new addition to Garden Flats at Autumn Hall; and the Friends School expansion.   With 65 full-time employees, Thomas is poised for growth and continues to hire local tradesmen.   As a locally owned company, Thomas Construction and Reid invest in the local economy to help grow Wilmington’s future.   Personal note: Reid is part of several local clubs and chapters. Sabrina Sells Wilmington Market President, North State Bank Sabrina Sells has 31 years of experience in the banking industry, including work at NewBridge Bank and currently as the market president at North State Bank, which has been helping small businesses by providing Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sells has also been on the Wilmington Business Development (WBD) Board of Directors for six years.  Why she's an influencer this year: In 2020, Sells was selected as the chair of WBD’s board, becoming the first woman to hold this position at the organization.  She moved to Wilmington in 1990 and became involved with the economic development group, which represents New Hanover and Pender counties.  The WBD has aggressive goals this year toward attracting, relocating and retaining businesses in New Hanover and Pender counties, especially on New Hanover County’s Blue Clay Road site and in the Pender Commerce Park, Sells said.  “I would like to see quality employers locating there,” she said.  Under her leadership, Sells works to strengthen partner relationships with CFCC, UNCW and other local organizations to provide a business network and attract more businesses to the region.  Pen name: Sells has published two mystery novels.  Dane Scalise General Counsel, Griffin-Estep Benefit Group Inc. Dane Scalise joined the Griffin-Estep Benefit Group in March. He was appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to serve as deputy commissioner of the N.C. Industrial Commission from 2016-2020 but resigned two years early to get back into the private sector.   Why he’s an influencer this year: Scalise serves as chair of Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s board and vice president of the New Hanover County Bar Association.   This year, he played a role in WDI’s Re-3 grant program to provide funding to help 40 businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.   Scalise also is filling the interim role to run WDI after Ed Wolverton left the CEO post at the end of July. He has also helped establish a search committee to fill the position.   In the meantime, he is leading WDI efforts to help downtown and the Municipal Services District address needs and serve the overall business community still weathering the pandemic.   At Griffin-Estep, Scalise assisted companies attempting to understand how employee benefits would be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as obligations under legislation, such as the CARES Act.   Total WDI Re-3 Grant Program funds: $113,000 Linda Thompson Chief Diversity and Equity Officer, New Hanover County Linda Thompson moved to the area 37 years ago and was with the Wilmington Police Department for decades before moving to her new position with the county this year. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications and broadcasting and a master’s in conflict management and resolution from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  Why she's an influencer this year: After working for the Wilmington Police Department in public relations for 25 years and making connections throughout the community, Thompson this year became New Hanover County’s first-ever chief diversity and equity officer.  Since starting the office in late August, she established a virtual town hall for the deaf and hard of hearing community; created Pastor’s HUB, a monthly virtual information meeting on county services and programs; and initiated county COVID-19 testing sites in minority communities.  She was named co-chair of the Regional Racial & Social Justice Task Force, between New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Duplin counties.  One focus is recruiting minority- and women-owned businesses for the county’s vendor list.  She’s currently conducting New Hanover County’s first diversity and equity assessment and launching the county’s Employees Diversity & Equity Committee. Thompson also serves as staff adviser for the newly formed Commission for Women.  Training focus: Thompson developed implicit bias training curriculum for the county’s more than 1,800 employees.  Bill Vassar Executive Vice President, EUE/Screen Gems Studios Bill Vassar leads all aspects of the Wilmington operation of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, including marketing, sales, operations and finance. He has served a top role with the studio’s New York-based parent company for more than 20 years. Why he's an influencer this year: Vassar led efforts to oversee the challenges that came with the pandemic’s impacts on the film industry this year. His efforts helped keep the studio’s team on payroll during the crisis and committed to creating a new way to work by implementing health and safety protocols. During restrictions due to the pandemic, management and accounting teams worked remotely while lighting and maintenance teams rotated workdays to upgrade stages, offices and grounds. Productions came back to EUE/Screen Gems Studios in September. Vassar led efforts to quickly reopen the Wilmington studios, making it one of the first locations in the U.S. to return to work post-shutdown. EUE/Screen Gems was at 90% percent capacity in October, with several productions filming projects, including two television series. Officials expect to remain nearly full into the spring of 2021. No. of employees: Under 50 Trey Wallace President, Intracoastal Realty Corp. Trey Wallace is a native of the Wilmington area who was introduced to real estate sales and development at a young age through his father, Jim Wallace, founder and CEO of Intracoastal Realty Corp. Graduating from East Carolina University, he acquired a real estate license in 2010, and over the next couple of years worked as a sales agent in Intracoastal’s Lumina Station office. Why he's an influencer this year: In 2013, Trey Wallace made a transition into the company’s management team, with a focus on operations. Since that time, he has acquired management experience in sales, operations and accounting, marketing, rentals and even real estate development. These days, as president, he has taken on much of the leadership aspects of the company, which is one of the largest residential real estate firms in Wilmington. No. of agents: About 400 Realtors Cynthia Walsh CEO, Brunswick County Association of Realtors Cynthia Walsh has held the role of CEO of the Brunswick County Association of Realtors since 2015.  Why she's an influencer this year: When COVID-19 came along, the Brunswick County Association of Realtors (BCAR) switched to a virtual office environment in 24 hours – without affecting its ability to provide its 1,200 members with the same level of service.  Walsh recently completed the National Designation for Commitment to Excellence and is scheduled to take the exam for the international designation of Certified Association Executive in December.  She led the design and launch of a new, updated BCAR website and digitized all forms and applications.  Additionally, BCAR applied for and was awarded an Innovation Grant through NC Realtors to create a “Realtors Vote” campaign to encourage Realtors and others engaged in the real estate profession to vote.  More on the grant: “My goal was to create a model that could be adapted to any association, and luckily, I partnered with Pioneer Strategies Marketing to make all of this come to life,” Walsh said. Donny Williams Chief, Wilmington Police Department Wilmington native, Donny Williams has worked for the Wilmington Police Department for nearly 30 years, starting as a summer youth worker and rising through the ranks.  Why he's an influencer this year: After former chief Ralph Evangelous retired in February, Williams was named interim chief. In July, Williams was named police chief. In a year of civil unrest and national protests about racial justice and police reforms, Williams guided the department through the issues. On his first official day as chief, Williams fired three veteran officers who were recorded on a police car camera using racial slurs and threats of violence. Williams said he has this year led “an internal cultural reset for the WPD,” including implementing project ABLE (Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement). The program, in partnership with Georgetown University Law Center, is one of the first to be offered by police departments in the country and involves training for those in the Wilmington Police Department on ways to intervene if they see any employee making mistakes including officer misconduct. No. of employees: 350 Lee Williams Board Vice Chairman, Live Oak Bancshares One of the original founders of the bank, Lee Williams serves as the company’s vice chairman. Before Live Oak, Williams spent 19 years in corporate banking at Wachovia and 14 years at Vine Street Financial in SBA lending.  Why he's an influencer this year: A more behind-the-scenes influencer than some of the other founders of Live Oak Bank, Williams has helped connect people in the community for years, having lived in the area for decades.  This year – besides the work Live Oak did to disperse the new Paycheck Protection Program and to land again at the top of the country’s list of SBA lenders in terms of dollar amount – Williams also was active in the local community.  He serves on the New Hanover County Airport Authority and its finance committee. In that role, he worked with the airport’s staff on a three-year, $80 million expansion project. He also assisted with helping the airport weather the impacts of COVID-19 on the air travel industry and the associated financial management of the airport.  Other community involvement: Voyage board member, JDRF, StepUp Wilmington and Camp Schreiber  Read more about the 2020 WilmingtonBiz 100 honorees by clicking here.


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Local engineer driven to help kids gain much-needed digital literacy skills and S.T.E.A.M skill through FUNducation, the nonprofit she founded.


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