Meet the Ambassadors: Árdís Ármannsdóttir, Iceland

Publication date: September 30, 2014

Almost 90 EU Code Week Ambassadors from 36 countries are helping us spread the word about #codeEU throughout Europe. Who are they and why did they get involved in Code Week? We’ll be running a series of interviews and get to know them better. Our previous interviewee, Gabriella Fumagalli from Switzerland, interviewed Árdís Ármannsdóttir from Iceland.




Árdís, who are you?

Born and raised at the country side in the northern part of Iceland. Been living in Austria, Denmark and Iceland, educated in international marketing, strategy, organization and leadership. With working experience within the field of tourism, banking, consulting and later working as a marketing manager at Innovation Center Iceland.

Currently, I´m working as a CEO of Skema, a small social business in Iceland (a subsidiary of reKode Education, an international company based in Redmond USA). One of Skema´s goals is to change the educational system, make coding part of the overall curriculum for elementary schools and help teachers and parents to learn to code. At the same time, we are providing diverse coding courses for children at the age of 6-16 years.

How does your country deal with this idea of code learning?

We are approaching the point that relevant parties are realizing the importance of technical understanding and technical reading and trying to figure out ways to increase the level of both. The subject is on the governmental agenda and hopefully, coding will soon be taught throughout the entire level of elementary schools and made a part of the overall school curriculum.

Skema has been working with governments, municipalities, organizations, companies and schools on consultation thereto and on direct code teaching to students, teachers and employees within schools and municipalities that want to become leaders in the technical implementation. Up until today interested and up to date parents have been leading the implementation of coding to their youngsters by registering them to afterschool coding courses and summer camps. Since founded in 2011, Skema has welcomed more than 3000 youngsters to different coding courses (547 this summer) and around 200 teachers.  In October Skema will open up the first tech-center in Iceland.

We have quite many Icelandic high-tech companies that will need more highly skilled individuals in the years to come, the entrepreneurial focus and support is high and many in the process of founding their own tech-companies, the number of individuals learning IT is also raising alongside with the number of female in IT so many things are moving in the right direction. Skema has been offering specially designed courses for young girls combining coding and confidence and is now in the phase of developing new courses (long and short ones) for girls in tech.

The EU Info Center in Iceland is working closely with Skema in regards to the EU Code Week providing assistance with networking, connections, advertising and brainstorming in regards to events. A number of Icelandic companies and organizations have shared their interest in the EU Code Week and will be participating.

Why are you involved as an EU Code Week ambassador? What do you expect from it?

I share the passion of educating our upcoming generations in a more personal and technical way. Everyone should be given the opportunity to find their personal strength and given the proper tools, technology and vehicle to strengthen their strengths and work on it, also the ones with some learning disabilities and behavioural diagnose. The educational system needs to change and therefore Skema is working as a grass-roots organization in Iceland motivating governments, schools, companies, parents and other individuals to make the right step towards education where students can work on their strength and interest and co-operate more actively with other students.

The EU Code Week is a great initiative that I´m proud of being a part of on behalf of my company and my country. It opens up networking possibilities and sharing of experience and ideas.

Do you have a hero or someone that inspires you (can be a hacker or not)?

A number of people have managed to impress me both personally and professionally with their personality, goals in life and ambition for making the world and their societies a better place to live in.

Our first female president, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, has for a long time been one of my favourites. She is a perfect role model and a true inspiration in so many terms. A single mom that managed to become the first female president and is today still loved by the entire nation.

Entrepreneurs are also worth to mention, especially social entrepreneurs that really believe that their business idea will do good for the society and help to address problems that otherwise are likely to suffer due to lack of governmental support or money.

The founder behind Skema and reKode Education, Rakel Solvadottir, is a perfect example of a social entrepreneur that has really given all her focus and passion to her business idea.  Her passion and idea is very personal since it has its roots way back when she herself, diagnosed with ADHD, didn´t fit into the educational system.  It was not until realizing her strength in coding and tech that she started to flourish and believe in herself. I´m really proud of my daily work at Skema and of the people I´m working with.

Recently I participated, as an editor, in the publishing of a book on innovation in Iceland (Capturing the knowledge – Innovationbook) where highly valued entrepreneurs share their stories, scientists their researches and specialists their beliefs and way of thinking. A really remarkable book that I am really proud of.