From then to now

ALC was founded by Zika Milenkovic and Catalina Lechner in 1994. We held our first course Understanding Data Communications in Sydney on 7-9 March 1994.

But in a sense, the story started much earlier when, back in 1981, Zika was co-founder of MTE Management Technology Education. MTE specialised in bring quality information on latest developments in technology to IT and business professionals and rapidly grew to become the leading technology training provider in Australia in the 80s. A lot of the seminars were presented by experts that we flew in from USA or Europe but we also developed a lot of courses using local talent. Names such as Matt Whelan, Les Bell, Robert Graham, Rod Whitworth, Bill Bolton. These courses were so good that by 1986 we were exporters with many MTE courses being run in London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Singapore.

The 80s – decade of the PC

Lots of things happened in technology in the 80s but we would argue that the single most transformative was the PC. Time Magazine went so far as to dispense with its annual “Man of the Year” award in 1982 and awarded it instead to the personal computer, calling it “Machine of the Year”. This is the first time a non-human received this front-page award since its inception in 1927.

Our first seminar in November 1981 was on financial modelling using mainframe computers. During the lunch break one of the speakers brought along his Apple II personal computer and demonstrated Visicalc, the very first spreadsheet. It caused a sensation – people skipped lunch. In our view it is the spreadsheet that led the transformation in IT – it was a “must have” for managers – and it spearheaded the devolution of IT from the IT department to the user.

MTE quickly introduced hands-on training centres covering a host of PC applications, but the dominant one was the spreadsheet, first Visicalc then Multiplan then Excel. We also ran an extensive series of seminars on operating systems such as CP/M, DOS, OS2, Windows and database applications such as dBASE and Clipper. By 1986 MTE had more than 40 staff with PC training centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. MTE was acquired by the Computer Power Group in 1987.

The 90s – the decade of Networking and The Internet 

If the 80s was the decade of the PC then the 90s was the decade of networking. ALC’s first seminar on 7-9 March 1994 was Understanding Data Communications. Other topics, to name a few, followed: Designing Implementing & Managing TCP/IP Networks; Client-Server Computing; Networking with NetWare; Installing & Managing Windows NT 4.0; Information & Network Security; Integrating Windows with NetWare; The Complete SNA; Networking with X25.

But the real transformative power of networking was …. the internet.  In 1994 one of our leading US TCP/IP presenters told us that back in the US the internet was becoming of great interest.  So we ran a seminar on it.  In fact, we ran the very first seminar on the internet ever held in Australia –  Connecting to the Internet – in Brisbane on 24-25 November 1994.  It was OzeMail that provided us with internet access for the seminar and at that stage they had about 12 routers! Those with an interest in history and Prime Ministers should do a web search on OzeMail. Very interesting! 

The Internet seminar soon led to courses such as Gainining Global Presence on the Web, Creating Your Own Internet & Intranet Web Site and then in 1998 Australia’s first-ever seminar on Electronic Commerce –  Ecommerce Strategies for Success.

At that seminar – full of business managers as well as IT people – our US presenter boldly asserted that one day every company would have its own web site.  There was a muted response from a somewhat incredulous audience.

 

The 2000s – the decade of Process

The 80s and 90s encapsulated the romance of technology, the excitement of and total fascination with the new. Whatever it is, I’ve got to have it! But getting IT to take a business perspective did not come naturally.

The dot com crash of 2000, together with the Y2K bug hysteria, provided one whopping circuit breaker. Also, a very neat demarcation point between the decades, and the millennium for that matter.

It was very much a case of the morning after the night before. The Nasdaq came crashing down from an all-time peak on 10 March 2000. All of a sudden, a sober perspective came to bear on IT. Technical acronyms gave way to the dreaded ROI.

For ALC this manifested most clearly in two areas of “best practice” initially developed within the British Government – ITIL for Service Management and PRINCE2 for Project Management.

In the well-known People-Process-Technology triangle, in the 80s and 90s it was Technology that got all the attention. But now the spotlight was very much on Process.

ALC, through sister company PDA, launched ITIL in Singapore and Malaysia in July 1998. We ran our first ITIL course in Australia in August 1999 and are now the longest-serving provider of ITIL in the Asia-Pacific. Our first PRINCE2 course was in November 1999 making us the 2nd longest-serving provider of PRINCE2.

 

The 2010s – the decade of Cyber Security and Digital Transformation

There are very many threads in our current decade but the two that we would single out are Cyber Security and Digital Transformation.

ALC has a long background in Information Security going back to 1995 (now it is called Cyber Security, if you say Information Security you reveal yourself as being out-of-date). In the 90s we ran courses such as: Information & Network Security; NetWare Security; Practical Cryptography.

Since the early 2000s ALC has been instrumental in the furthering of SABSA as the world’s undisputed security architecture. The first SABSA course in the world was held by ALC in Sydney on 26-30 March 1997 and we held the second in Singapore on 7-11 May 1997. Other SABSA courses were held by ALC in UK, Canada and USA.  ALC’s SABSA initiative was led by ALC Director Matt Whelan, who prematurely passed away in 2013 as a result of Motor Neurone Disease. We are an active supporter of the MND Foundation.

ALC maintains an industry-leading and ever-expanding cyber security portfolio.

The other dominant stream in business today is digital transformation. This has actually been the constant underlying theme ever since we got started, but it has never been as strong or as ruthless as it is now.  It is quite Darwinian. Today, business is under an increasing imperative to be innovative and to be quick to market, and IT – embracing a whole host of technologies including cloud and internet – is the key. ALC continues to maintain a strong portfolio of training to better prepare organisations for what lies ahead.

ALC – Celebrating 25 Years

When asked why ALC got started, the simplest explanation is that it was a really fun activity. Seminars in the 80s and 90s dealt with all sorts of exciting developments in technology. At a conference in Centrepoint Tower in 1981 a speaker from Xerox Corporation (the real inventors of the mouse and the graphic screen we all use and love today) calmly asserted – and his words are recalled precisely to this day – that “the only limitations we face are the slowness of the speed of light and the sheer physical bulk of atoms”. That is a good working definition of a fun area to work in, even if it is at the periphery.

Our job was to identify key areas of interest in IT and to then find really good people with great expertise to come and talk about the subject that they know and love the best. “Enthusiasm” is the word, from the ancient Greek enthousiasmos meaning ‘possessed by a god, inspired’. This might be drawing a long bow. On the other hand we had one presenter who at an IT conference delivered a presentation on cable modems. His opening line was “I can’t believe there are people out there who can actually make cable modems sound boring!”. And he proceeded to keep his audience 100% engaged for the entire length of the presentation.

Over time seminars – which were always more like cowboy territory – morphed into training and certification, an altogether more earnest activity. But the approach has remained the same – to put really good people in the front of a classroom to present top-quality training programs on topics of keen relevance to IT professionals and business managers.

At ALC we are a small team of dedicated and capable people who care about what we do. We give it single-minded focus; we offer commitment, professionalism and enthusiasm; and we will always walk that extra mile.

Thank you!

Zika and Catalina Milenkovic

Who we support

We are active supporters of the Motor Neurone Disease Foundation, having lost Director Matt Whelan in 2013 to this awful disease as well as Catalina’s father in 1989.  This photo is from the 2018 MND Walkathon in Brisbane. Maxi is our 4-legged member of staff and comes to the office every day.  He is a Portuguese Water Dog, as per Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau. 

We are very keen supporters, since 2011, of the biennial Brisbane-based Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition & Festival, internationally recognised as a showcase for the very best talent in Australia, New Zealand and East Asia.

We also support a number of charities including: