IBM Z and LinuxONE - IBM Z - Group home

IBM Champion spotlight: Darren Surch


Meet one of our 28 "Lifetime Champions", Darren Surch who is the CEO of Interskill Learning. Darren is a 30 year veteran of global mainframe workforce training. Noted thought leader and speaker at mainframe computing, training, and digital credentialing industry events worldwide.

His favorite IBM product is IBM Z - the mighty mainframe! He says, “The mainframe is the system that helped put man on the moon and for a staggering 60 years has continued to lead the way in computing! Its peerless security, performance, reliability, and value make it the critical and consequential heart of global business and the foundation for our modern way of life! I’m such a fan! Happy 60th birthday to the mainframe, April 7th  this year!”

His favorite type of advocacy is speaking at mainframe conferences and events, both in-person and virtual; “We introverts can enjoy public speaking when we’re passionate about a topic, and I can chatter about mainframe workforce vitality and efficacy to anyone! I also love connecting with mainframe student groups around the world to mentor the inspiring young people who will be the next generation of mainframers”.

He has remarkable achievements in the technology world and is highly driven to give back to the community. He adds; “I grew up on a farm in the Australian bush and in that community, everybody helped everybody. Now the mainframe community is my community, so I love giving back in the critical education and workforce empowerment area. Years ago, an IBM friend Christy Schroeder who was part of the early IBM Champion program saw all the speaking and mentoring and community work I was already doing and said, “You should be an IBM Champion!”. It’s been life changing!”

He is really proud of his contributions and accomplishments, “In 1990 in Melbourne Australia, before the internet, visionaries Ray Menzies and Deborah Scott used fledgling computer-based training technology to create a new type of mainframe training. I was one of the small, passionate team that began building what has now become the world’s most delivered, most IBM credentialed, mainframe training. I am so proud to have spent 34 years lifting the careers and lives of generations of mainframers and ensuring the long-term vitality and efficacy of the global mainframe workforce”.

If he weren’t a part of the technology world, he would probably go back to his first career as a Hydrographer, managing the water resources in southeastern Australia!

Darren has been an active member in the Champions family and here is what he wants to tell the new Champions and prospects; “The IBM Champion program has been immensely rewarding! It amplifies my ability to help people all over the world, and to contribute to this important industry. To someone interested in the program I would say “Dive in!” You’ll find immense personal satisfaction, you’ll get to collaborate with some of the world’s most remarkable people, and you’ll empower your career! Reach out to me on LinkedIn if you’d like to chat”.

Recently he spoke at the GSE UK conference about modern mainframe workforce training and has been on virtual calls with a remarkable East Carolina University mainframe student group, and with IBM’s global IBM Z Ambassadors, career mentoring and discussing mainframe training available in the industry. This year, he looks forward to speaking about mainframe workforce skills and digital credentialing, both in person at SHARE, IBM TechXchange 2024, and GSE UK, and virtually at IBM Z Day and via many and varied calls, gatherings, podcasts and interviews.

Lightning round:

  • What would be your superpower and why? Storytelling. A grin and a good story can go a long way toward getting people passionate about things that matter!
  • Ice cream or cake? Definitely, definitely ice cream!
  • Cats or dogs? Definitely, definitely dogs!
  • Summer or winter? Summer
  • Morning or evening? Evening
  • eBook or paper book? Definitely, definitely paper book!
  • TV shows or movies? Movies
  • A night out or a night in? Night in. I’m definitely an introvert.
  • Cannonball into the pool or dip a toe in first? Cannonball.
  • Go-to karaoke song? Take a bunch of friends on stage for Love Shack by the B-52’s!
  • Drive or fly? Fly

Connect with Darren in LinkedIn and in Community page.