Key Technology Drivers of Higher Education During and After COVID-19

Date: 29 October 2020
The imact of COVID-19 has posed many challenges, but a significant positive outcome has been the acceleration of digital transformation in all sectors including higher education. It has become a strategic priority, and the adoption of new technologies has been quicker than previously anticipated. Digitization of higher education has become a powerful trend that is reforming and modernizing the global education environment, which means transformation of all information types (texts, sounds, visuals, video and other data) into a digital language. Many analysts and experts consider this transformation of higher education into a digital process a turning point in history. 

In this panel discussion, the CIO’s of premier institutions from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Pakistan will share their experiences of the digitalization journey, and the pivotal role it has played in the continuation of education during the COVID pandemic, and the likely scenarios during the post-Covid era.

Chris Handley
Chief Information Officer, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan.
Chris Handley is an accomplished Healthcare and Higher Education Technology Executive with quantified results leading turnaround efforts and building state-of-the art technology infrastructures. He is currently the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Nazarbayev University in Nursultan, Kazakhstan. He is recognised agent for change with demonstrated success in orchestrating reengineering activities and providing IT services directly contributing to operational and bottom-line improvements, ERP and EHR implementations and has successful Record of Permanent and Interim CIO positions in Philanthropy, Health Care and Higher Education. Handley has extensive international experience across six countries. Driven by an intense focus on employee and organisational development. Prior to joining Nazarbayev University, he served as the Chief Information Officer of the Aga Khan University and Hospitals in South-Central Asia, East Africa and London, UK. He was also Information and communication Technology Strategic Advisor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Wales, United Kingdom. Handley earned his M.Ed in Adult Education and Computer Application from the University of Toronto in Canada.

Russel Withers
Global CIO, Aga Khan University and Hospitals in Asia, Africa and Europe.
Russel Withers is the Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Aga Khan University (AKU), overseeing AKU’s information systems landscape in Pakistan, United Kingdom, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Afghanistan. Withers has over 30 years of experience in managing complex information technology environments. Prior to joining AKU, he worked as an Executive Director and CIO, Information and Performance, at Western Health in Melbourne (Australia). He has also held roles as Programme Director for major public health initiatives including delivery of all ICT Infrastructure and Systems at the “Greenfields” Gold Coast University Hospital and the e-Health programme, Radiology Informatics Programme at Queensland Health in Australia. Withers has implemented major digital solutions across health systems, in projects valued as high as $2 billion. He has developed Clinical Informatics Blueprints and Strategic Plans for hospitals and health systems, major transition programmes within and across multiple hospitals and facilities, corporate and clinical data governance systems, innovation hubs, and designed and delivered data analytics services, and designed and implemented complex cyber security systems.

Almaz Bakenov
IT Director/Head of the Software Engineering Department, American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan.
Almaz Bakenov is the IT Director/Head of the Software Engineering Department of the American University of Central Asia. He is in charge of the department responsible for the smooth operation of all information systems and development of the IT infrastructure at AUCA. Almaz Bakenov is also the director of the National Center for Information Technology - the only place in Kyrgyzstan where you can take IT certification exams. In September 2020, Almaz Bakenov was appointed as the director of Central Asian Research Education Network Cooperation Center (CAREN CC), coordinating the provision of advanced services (i.e. eduroam, edugain) for academia in the region. He graduated from Saint Petersburg Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics, and Brigham Young University. He specializes in ICT for development, system analysis, project management, fundraising, IT audit, and IT-service delivery.

Date and Time
October 29th 2020, 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm (Bishkek time, GMT+6)

This lecture will be conducted online via Zoom conferencing at 
Meeting ID: 886 0387 3251
Passcode: 774093 

If you do not already have Zoom installed on your computer, visit:

Chief Information Officer
University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan

The online lecture will be in English.

Past online lectures are available on the University of Central Asia's YouTube channel at

Ideas presented in this lecture reflect the personal opinion of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Central Asia and/or its employees
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