01 April 2024

From Analytical Education to Creative Training

Vernon Chalmers Academic, Business, Training and Development Journey

From Intel Corporation, Founding of Blu-C, Neuropsychology and Photography  

Vernon Chalmers Labour Relations Training SAS Simonsberg Simon's Town Photo Credit: SA Navy : Mental Health and Motivation
Labour Relations Training SAS Simonsberg Simon's Town, Cape Town Photo Credit: SA Navy
As a young first-year student in Cape Town I made a solemn promise on my way to my first lecture - if ever given the opportunity, I will educate, train and develop others for the rest of my life.” ― Vernon Chalmers

Image 1: Vernon Chalmers Training Officer South African Navy
With my students (I’m back row on the left) after my first ever self-designed training course (on Labour Relations). My KPA's included the lecturing of Military Leadership / Military Management / Labour Relations Strategy and Consulting for the SA Navy at the Military Training School, SAS Simonsberg, Simon’s Town and the SA Naval Staff College (for Naval Officer Training) in Muizenberg during the early 1990’s. 

Some of my (personal) biggest achievements were two Chief of the SA Navy Merit Awards for Labour Relations / Military Management Training (SAS Simonsberg), SADF Joint Senior Staff Officer College Labour Relations Course Selection (as a junior officer) - completed Summa Cum Laude (Pretoria). I was trusted with autonomy for continuous research / development of Classified Military Management training (for Navy Petty Officers and Warrant Officers Qualifying) curriculums and being selected as one of the youngest members to serve on the Chief of the SA Navy's Steering Committee for Military Management and Leadership Training (and the curriculum development / facilitation of civilian Labour Relations Training to current / future Naval Base Commanding Officers) Naval Officer Staff College (Muizenberg). 

It was an honour to work with some of the Navy's finest senior officers (during some of my assignments) who served as Commanding / Executive Officers on some of our Navy's most prestigious ships and / or shore units. Many retired years later as Real and Vice Admirals. 

Border Duty mention: As part of my initial compulsory (conscript) military service, (SA Navy), I spent three months volunteering with the SA Marine Corps in two operational units in the 'war zone' (SWA / Namibia) deep into the Caprivi, with the second deployment a few kilometers north of the Chobe National Park - where we regularly observed the 'enemy' across the Chobe River, Zambia. It was a personal dedicated (auxiliary) border service, and at times volunteered in assisting some of the Marines with minor psychological challenges - for my border service I received the SADF Pro Patria medal. For me, personally, this period was quite a paradox, as 1000s of young men across the SADF had no choice. Most of them (SA Army) were engaged in physical infinitary warfare in Angola during the same time. I still have many days assimilating this. Sentinel Projects (by Barry Fowler, Clinical Psychologist, SA Army) assisted me in a very thoughtful way in reading his online publication with some interesting anecdotes / journals from various SADF soldiers during this challenging period - I starting reading Sentinel Projects since 2020. I also read Barry Fowler's book - Pro Patria 2nd Ed. 'SADF Border Duty 1984 -1988'. Books by Barry Fowler.

'Secretly' shaping my interest in Information Management and Technology
As a Management and Social Science student I was unexpectedly awarded an international Curry Merit Award / Bursary at the end of my first year and was recruited (from my second year) by a covert Information Management and Technology agency involved in Secret and Top Secret national and international projects for the South African Defence Force (SADF). After some intense scrutiny I was granted an official SADF / SA Government Intelligence Secret Clearance and over a three-year period was exposed to some of the best local Information Technology (IT) software engineers / computer systems in the country. What was quite ironic (to keep a secret) was the many days I attended lectures in full business attire - under the pretense of working as a part-time sales representative. I was prohibited from talking to anyone (via Classified / Secret Non-Disclosure Agreements) about the existence and / or my affiliation to the agency (or my past / future SA Navy deployments) - and I worked there most afternoons, evenings and weekends. During many all-night operations I would shower at the agency in the morning and drive to campus the be ready attending lectures at 09:00. Some afternoons I would drive straight back or spend hours researching in university libraries for the agency, At least my best friend (as a naval officer) who worked via the SADF for the same agency at times was aware of my 'clandestine occupation'.

From Human Resource Development Education to Personal / Corporate Computing    
My first postgraduate majors included Applied Industrial Psychology, Compensation Management, Human Resource Development and Organisational Behavior. At the same time (while working at the agency) I developed a stupendous interest in the fast-developing global semiconductor industry with specific reference to the 'brain of the PC' - the Central Processing Unit (CPU). An early personal 'AI' interest I suppose, in terms of executing specific human / logic instructions via the CPU (chip) through programmed purpose; the Arithmetic Logic Unit, Control Unit and the Storage Unit (memory) functionality. I was fascinated by the idea that such a tiny wafer of semiconducting material with an embedded electronic circuit could potentially change the way we apply quantitative analysis, business communication and general office productivity. With almost a million transistors at the time on each chip and increasing with every new CPU generation (thanks to Gordon Moore of Intel's scientific observation that eventually became Moore's Law - that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles about every two years) - this evolution had a significant impact on the continuous global scientific, engineering, business, socio-economic, technology and digital communication efficiency since the 1960s. 

It was a fascinating time - and that was just the beginning of the universal technological influence of the microchip, independently invented in 1959 by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce (Noyce together with Gordon Moore founded Intel Corporation in 1968, California, United States). The introduction of the first IBM Personal Computer (PC) in 1981 provided opportunities for business and individuals to acquire cost-effective multi-tasking desktop computers that were simply not available in such small form factor(s) before. Not long after the introduction of the IBM PC the Intel CPU became the microprocessor of choice for most desktop computers around the world. Millions of Intel CPU's were integrated into 'cloned' IBM PC's with compatible and much cheaper non-IBM components (i.e. cases, power supplies, motherboards, Ram memory chips and hard drives) when the Intel XT 80286 CPU became available in 1982 it quickly dominated the 'CPU of choice' market as the de facto standard for many business, labororary, office and classroom desktop computers. Bill Gates and Paul Allen's Microsoft provided the 'disk operating system' software (DOS) and over the years evolved in tandem with Intel to the current 14th Generation Intel (Raptor Lake) CPU's with Microsoft Windows 11 as operating system software (OS) of choice (together with a quite a few open-source Linux OS distributions). I was always aware of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak's development of the Apple Macintosh computer system, but my (historic) fascination remained on the 'Intel Inside' side only.

Higher data transfer rates became an essential requirement for desktop / server information processing and for enabling digital communication / networking between computer systems (not just intra-corporate, but across industries and the fast-developing international private / public digital global landscape). A rapid demand for IT skills, systems, products, services and subsequent growth in electronic commerce redefined (digital) workflows for the continuous increase in (global) corporate competitiveness. Faster, reliable and scalable computing / networking bandwidth throughput pushed semiconductor manufacturing performance requirements for increased individual and corporate efficiency. During the 1990s the revolutionary development of the new 'digital economy' via the Internet accelerated change to strategic / operational analytical decision-making for increased competitive advantages and efficiency. These 'inflection points' benefited SMEs and large multi-national / international corporates alike. Many governments across the world started vigorous research and application in terms of various regulatory changes, updating international trading standards and defining new cyber security risk protocols. 'Who is spying on who..?' Suddenly, international business / economics became very enticing subjects to study and / or to lecture - right through the retail dot-com imploding during the early 2000s. All very exhilarating indeed for anybody remotely interested in semiconductors, silicon processor (CPU) processing, increased productivity and making lots of money (or losing it after the dot-com crash).

“A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. that change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end” ― Andy Grove, Intel

During my studies the agency assisted me in acquiring my first own personal computer - an Intel-based XT 80286 desktop computer (with Olivetti dot matrix printer) and within the next year upgraded to an Intel-based AT 80386 just to upgrade again to the more advanced Intel-based 80486 (as it became available in the local market). After these upgrades I was freely and generously supplied with some of Intel's Europe, Middle-East and Africa (Intel EMEA) market's first assigned high-performance multiprocessing  Intel Pentium and Intel Pentium II CPUs after joining Intel Corporation.

One of my prescribed reading resources during my first postgraduate studies during the 1990s was Alvin Toffler's futuristic book, 'Future Shock'. In short, the book was more a pragmatic assertion that the accelerated rate of structural changes in global social and technological environments will have a profound psychological impact on most individuals and societies. In our small class of about fifteen students I was one of the only students who attempted to read Toffler's head-scratching future 'social science fiction' narrative predictions from cover to cover - one of our final examination case studies was based on various chapters from Future Shock (not included in the paper) and I could not have been happier. In contemporary society many scientists and technologists still acknowledge the literature contributions Toffler has made to international technological revolution, change and development.

"With the help of technology, teachers will be leaders in the transformation of education around the world." ― Craig Barrett, Intel

Intel CPU and Motherboard Components
Open Socket with Intel CPU on a Motherboard with two open RAM Slots on the Left
Applying IT Systems for Enhancing Management / Employee Productivity
I became fascinated by IT Systems to such an extend that I quickly mastered not only to design / integrate purpose-built desktop / workstation computer systems, but also vigorously researched how corporate IT architecture (and the fast-developing Internet) could be applied for improving management / strategic decision-making, organisational productivity, corporate communications and analytical / data management performance objectives. As HTTP protocols and HTML became more universally available I developed a self-designed Intranet for an academic institution in Cape Town - for improving digital communications between the IT department and every PC across their campuses. Working for / and be further trained by Intel Corporation a few years later enabled me to consult large corporations, universities and SME IT Systems development and future 'IT roadmapping'. I had many opportunities to lecture a variety of Information Systems Architecture Design, Software, Social Media and E-Commerce modules to various groups of graduate and postgraduate students. However, my most important personal learning interests were, above all, still focused on the cognition, development and applied research in human behaviour / motivation.   

Academic / Private Sector Education, Training and Consulting 
The years between Image 1 and Image 2 was quite a journey. During these years I have had the privilege of lecturing (and designing / facilitating many training courses) at various business schools, universities and private training institutions across South Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban). I was provided with many opportunities for consulting / lecturing / facilitating subjects such as Strategic Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Training Management, Labour Relations / Law, Industrial Psychology, Self Management, Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Organisational Behaviour, Consumer Behaviour / Market Research, Corporate Communications, Business Economics, Macroeconomics, Accountancy, Advertising Management, Project Leadership / Management, Supply-Chain Management, Marketing Management, Change Management, Information Systems Management, Information Systems Architecture /  Design / Integration, Corporate Website Strategy / Design / Implementation / Analytics, E-Commerce Strategy / Application, Internet Marketing Strategy / Application, Social Media Strategy / Application and Quantitative Analytics / Global Consumer Visitation / Market(ing) Behaviour Analysis (where applicable).

"The "Intel Inside" campaign has been one of the most successful branding campaigns in history." - Harvard Business Publishing

Intel Corporation - Working on the 'Intel Inside' campaign and more...
During this busy time (of lecturing and consulting day and most evenings) I was very fortunate to be recruited by Intel Corporation as the company entered the local Information Technology market with Marketing and Sales offices in three South African cities. At the time Intel was a Global Top 10 company in the S&P Fortune 500 Company Index (as one of the world's largest semiconductor / CPU manufacturers) - to manage the commercial desktop Central Processing Unit (CPU) world  renowned 'Intel Inside' advertising / education campaigns and the more industrial 'Intel Product Integrator' and (Intel Workstation / Server / CPU's, related high-performance Motherboards / Network Interface Cards) Sales, Marketing and related Dealer Training programmes in Cape Town. My Intel EMEA (UK) regional director was one of the senior members involved in the development of the original (and famed) 'Intel Inside' advertising / brand campaign. Intel Corporation entered the South African market in 1997 and as one of only a few South Africans I regularly attended Intel CPU / Information Systems Architecture and Integration Training in various UK  / European cities. 

Iconic Reading: "The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company" by Michael S. Malone Amazon

Intel® Core™ i5-9400F CPU
Intel® Core™ i5-9400F CPU (2019)
Inspired by Intel's PhD founders, Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove it was more than an honour and privilege to work for one of the world's top-ranked (Information Technology) companies at the time. I have had the opportunity to meet / work with the U.S.-based Intel Corporation CEO and Chairman of the Intel Board, Dr. Craig Barrett in Johannesburg and was inspired by his charismatic and highly intelligent, but humble global business leadership approach. In many ways Intel Corporation (with it's famous founders and extraordinary semiconductor / technology journey since the 1960's) motivated me to do even more (on my own) with Information Technology, Education and Training.

Don’t be encumbered by history, just go out and do something wonderful.” ― Robert Noyce, Intel

The Founding of Blu-C and beyond...
I left Intel after a few years to pursue further part-time postgraduate studies in an MBA-programme offering advanced Business / Financial Administration, International Economics, Organisational Behaviour, Human Resource Development etc. Together with my friend, Joseph Inns, (an Art / Photography lecturer and Graphic Design entrepreneur) we founded the exciting 'dot.com' start-up of Blu-C - a creative Internet, IT (Desktop System Integration and Networking), Database Development, Graphic Design, Public Relations and Photography agency in Pinelands and later Rondebosch, Cape Town. Recruitment and selection of new staff were ingenious and effective - we both recruited from our own best students / graduates (who we thought would fit into our entrepreneurial culture) from relevant subjects we both lectured. Joseph worked full-time at Blu-C while I balanced my time between my daily Blu-C KPA's and my part-time studying / lecturing (close to the office in Rondebosch, but also Cape Town, Granger Bay and Bellville). What was quite interesting was that Joseph (as art and photography partner) and his staff only worked on Apple computers while the rest of us worked on Intel-based PC's and laptops. At least I could purpose-built / integrate / network the Intel PC's myself and therefore developed an extremely cost-effective computer environment for about 80% of our required IT needs. On many late afternoons myself and Joseph would sit alone in our office and marvelled at our IT systems which formed such a significant part of our operations and internal / external communications. 

After four years as executive partner at Blu-C (and spending half the time in classrooms again) I decided it was time to call it a day and returned to (almost) full-time lecturing, JSE Derivatives Trading, Organisational / Information Technology consulting and private Internet Marketing / Social Media Strategy consulting / training across the Western Cape, Durban and Johannesburg. Joseph took full ownership and control of Blu-C. To assist me with my demanding traveling schedules I developed my first personal academic resource-sharing website. Different pages of the website represented different universities / subjects and my students could register online and securely up / download subject-specific information (while away from campus) without manual intervention from me.  

Today Blu-C is the registered name of my Photography Training Studio / Private Accommodation Apartment in Milnerton (with Joseph Inn's personal blessing before he sadly passed away in 2021).

Privilege and Responsibility
I never had a favourite or preferred subject. The privilege to contribute to so many careers and lives came with an enormous sense of responsibility and motivation during the entire 'left brain' lecturing / facilitation period. I have very fond memories of lecturing at the SA Navy's Military Training School / Naval Staff College. I enjoyed the discipline, military organisational structure and the close-knit social environment. I also learned about / enjoyed international traveling and was subjected to a sublime professional business culture at one of the most successful global IT organisations (while working / training at Intel Corporation). One thing I did not really enjoy after leaving the SA Navy was the endless driving between university campuses during the week and many Saturday mornings, but always with the same objectives of being prepared and never to be a minute late (albeit with the same privilege and motivation). At Intel Corporation it was more / less the same, the endless travelling schedule across South Africa and abroad took its toll on all the other plans 'I had in my head'. Nevertheless, I am still grateful for each and every opportunity I received. 

Paradigm Shift: Education and Training to Creative Application, Research and Training
Since 2010 I started with a complete paradigm shift, transitioning from the above in creating the Vernon Chalmers Photography / Photography Training website. I transformed my photography hobby into an educational, training and support system by first educating myself with a thorough academic understanding of the art and science of photography, followed by application through the research, design, development and facilitation of various Canon EOS Camera & Photography Workshops and currently, one-on-one Training Programmes (Birds in Flight / Landscape / Macro / Speedlite Flash / Image Post-Processing) at my Milnerton training studio apartment (opposite Woodbridge Island), Cape Town. My Photography Training Philosophy.

Canon Camera News Website
I started researching and archiving the entire Canon EOS SLR / DSLR / EF / EF-S lens, PowerShot camera ranges (and related accessories, manuals and international media releases) and during 2012 launched my Canon Camera News website. Today the website (with the full range of the current Canon mirrorless EOS R System cameras - and RF / RF-S lenses) is an 'one-stop online destination' to more than a million global Canon camera (and to a lesser extent Canon small office / home laser and inkjet printer) users for the viewing / downloading of historic and up-to-date Canon camera and printer-related support information (for a growing international user circulation of +- 130 countries per year).

The 'ever-present' Joseph Inns
My friend, photography lecturer and former business partner, Joseph Inns, played an extraordinary role in assisting me with my transition into photography. He's knowledge, experience and personal qualities guided me in more ways he would ever have known. Joseph unfortunately passed away in 2021. I dearly miss my friend, but will never forget the absolute meaningful impact / paradigm shift he has brought to my life and career. Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns

Delegates during a Vernon Chalmers Landscape Practical Session on Milnerton Beach : Mental Health and Motivation
Delegates during a Landscape Practical Session Milnerton Beach, Cape Town : Photo Credit: Steve Williams

Image 2: Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Milnerton / Woodbridge Island

Students during a recent Landscape / Seascape Photography Workshop at Milnerton Beach. Theory (settings / composition) was presented at Intaka Island, Century City and practical sessions for Canon and Nikon photographers were facilitated around Woodbridge Island and Milnerton Beach.  About everything during the years stayed the same (although I have completely changed subjects). I have the same intensity and interest in the development and training of people. 

Vernon Chalmers Intaka Island Photography View >>

Vernon Chalmers Kirstenbosch Garden Photography View >>

Vernon Chalmers Woodbridge Island Photography View >>

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training View >>

Vernon Chalmers Night / Long Exposure Photography View >>

Photography is absolutely more creative than any of the left brain subjects I facilitated, but the personal responsibility, research, preparation, support and ultimately the privilege is the same (for me).

Mental Health and Motivation Website
The Mental Health and Motivation website was created during May 2021 as an online journaling project publishing my personal experiences, research and views with reference to Emotional Wellbeing, Neuropsychology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Sense of Self Research / Resource Sharing. More >>

Mental Health and Photography: Awareness, Research and Resources

Mental Health and Motivation Website

Human Brain Asymmetry and Lateralization
With my omnipresent interest in education, training and developmental psychology I have found contemporary neuroscience as a fundamental physiological requirement for gaining more insight into cognitive vs. emotional decision-making biases and subsequent behavioural responses. Learning more about human brain asymmetry and lateralisation and how the limbic system controls our cognition, motivation, emotions and stress reactions etc. are indeed fascinating, but also serves as important personal guidance in understanding more about human behaviour challenges / development.   

Photography Training Research Project 2024 / 2025
Metacognitive Assessment and Review Opinion: Photography Training and Development. 
This research project will be inclusive of a fundamental pedagogic assessment orientation with emphasis on creating assumptions of the adult learner's challenges in improving cognition, behaviour, skills and creative ability. More >>

Hybrid Mode: CFD Trading on the JSE
What I did retain form my more analytical 'left brain days' is my Contract for Difference (CFD) trading on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). This is an effective way of keeping my mind sharp and it provides for my only 'set' daily schedule - the JSE is open Monday to Friday between 09:00 - 17:00. I live every week day with these 'office hours' in the back of my mind - even if I don't trade and just walk around Intaka Island, Kirstenbosch Garden and / or Woodbridge Island doing my photography. I trade only for myself therefore the research, decision-making and management of my own derivatives portfolio is a personal, but 'challenging strategy, application and risk management exercise' for stimulating analytical thinking.

© Vernon Chalmers : Mental Health and Motivation (Education and Training)

From Analytical Education to Creative Training: Supporting Information
"Shifting from analytical education to creative training involves a focus on fostering creativity, innovation, and critical thinking skills in students. Here are some key aspects to consider when transitioning from an analytical approach to a more creative and experiential learning environment:

1. Encouraging Exploration and Curiosity: Create an atmosphere that encourages students to explore different ideas, ask questions, and think critically. Foster a sense of curiosity by providing opportunities for hands-on experiences, experimentation, and problem-solving.

2. Emphasizing Critical Thinking: Develop activities and assignments that promote critical thinking skills, such as analyzing complex problems, evaluating multiple perspectives, and generating innovative solutions. Encourage students to think critically about the information they encounter and challenge traditional assumptions.

3. Incorporating Project-Based Learning: Implement project-based learning approaches where students can engage in real-world problem-solving. Design projects that require creativity, collaboration, and interdisciplinary thinking. This approach allows students to apply their knowledge in practical ways and encourages innovative thinking.

4. Promoting Collaboration and Communication: Encourage collaborative learning environments where students can work together in groups to solve problems, brainstorm ideas, and share diverse perspectives. This helps students develop effective communication skills and learn from each other's unique experiences and insights.

5. Integrating Arts and Design: Incorporate arts-based activities, such as visual arts, music, drama, and design, into the curriculum. These activities can stimulate creativity, foster self-expression, and encourage students to think outside the box. They also provide alternative avenues for students to explore and express their ideas.

6. Providing Flexibility and Choice: Offer students more flexibility and choice in their learning paths. Allow them to pursue topics of interest and explore different approaches to assignments. This autonomy can enhance motivation, engagement, and creativity.

7. Leveraging Technology: Integrate technology tools and resources that facilitate creative expression, such as multimedia creation, coding, virtual reality, or online collaboration platforms. These tools can empower students to explore new possibilities and engage in innovative ways of learning.

8. Emphasizing Reflection and Feedback: Incorporate regular reflection exercises where students can analyze their own learning process, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and set goals. Provide constructive feedback that encourages students to iterate and refine their creative work.

9. Cultivating an Innovation Mindset: Foster an environment that values risk-taking, resilience, and adaptability. Help students develop an innovation mindset by promoting a growth mindset, where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities and experimentation is encouraged.

10. Engaging with the Real World: Connect students with real-world contexts and professionals from various industries. Invite guest speakers, organize field trips, or facilitate internships and partnerships with local organizations. This exposure allows students to see the practical applications of their learning and encourages creative problem-solving.

Remember, transitioning from an analytical education approach to a more creative training environment requires a shift in teaching practices, curriculum design, and assessment methods. It's important to provide ongoing support, resources, and professional development opportunities for educators to effectively implement these changes and create an environment conducive to creativity and innovation." Source: ChatGPT 2023)

Vernon Chalmers - Never Stop Learning

“Optimism is an essential ingredient of innovation. How else can the individual welcome change over security, adventure over staying in safe places?” ― Robert Noyce, Intel

"We are bringing about the next great revolution in the history of mankind - the transition to the electronic age."  Gordon Moore, Intel

"Not all problems have a technological answer, but when they do, that is the more lasting solution."  Andy Grove, Intel

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