Friday, August 10, 2012
Leadership is defined as a function, act or role in guiding groups or individuals, but those who attended last week's CompTIA Breakaway
conference know that description doesn't do it justice. The members who step up to head each of the association's 11 peer communities
aren't paid for their efforts, and most spend hundreds of hours each year to accomplish all of their group's ambitious industry-enhancing goals. Much of their work happens behind the scenes, from organizing calls and planning upcoming meetings, to managing the numerous tasks required to complete the team's important initiatives. That doesn't happen (at least effectively) without solid leadership.
It doesn't take years of professional experience to be a strong leader, or require an individual to follow the "Don Draper" management style successfully motivate others. That was clearly evident at Breakaway when 14 year-old Michael Weymouth took the stage. After identifying a market opportunity for a savvy computer services professional, he created TechWizard
(an IT services company) to address that need.
Case Studies of Peer Leadership
This year's Breakaway clearly demonstrated the association's evolution in the IT channel, with the most extensive educational agenda ever (at least in the eight years I've attended). The organization today is truly member-led, with all of the CompTIA communities developing their own industry initiatives to improve the strength and quality of their particular segment of the IT channel. That's no easy undertaking, but through the drive and determination of numerous current and former volunteer group leaders, the results of all their efforts were on display at Breakaway.
From vertical and segment-specific roadmaps to practice-building sessions and business credential workshops, many of the communities' initiatives were put into play at this year's conference. Attendees were offered a plethora of business training classes and freely shared the highlights with their peers during breaks and networking sessions. The onsite community meetings were well-attended and, thanks to the hard work of their respective chairs, the audiences were fully engaged in the industry-shaping discussions.
Some highlights of these community leaders efforts include:
- Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) Community: Chair Sandy Ashworth and vice-chair Jean Mork Bredenson created a lively agenda, starting off with a business card exchange to strengthen the networking opportunities and warm up the crowd. They also leveraged their community members' wealth of industry and personal experiences to bring to light the obstacles and opportunities for women in the IT workforce. Ashworth and Bredenson have employed their leadership skills to great effect, encouraging many of the industry's top solution providers and channel champions (of both genders) to participate in AWIT activities. Their panel and group discussions clearly highlighted the challenges women face in making IT inroads, from a lack of K-12 educational guidance to the "glass ceiling" that remains in some organizations. Expect a lot from this community in the coming months, especially as their leadership team and members develop their initiatives and programs!
- MSP Partners Community: Chair Jacob Braun and vice-chair Jay McBain began their meeting with an engaging discussion relating to the latest challenges and opportunities in managed services, including cloud services and mobility. They lead off with a panel of respected and successful managed service providers, with insight based on their own experiences and first-hand knowledge of the industry issues. The discussion covered everything from the transition to a recurring revenue model to the challenges of managing numerous SLAs for multiple clients, with valuable takeaways for each topic. In addition to the tremendous amount of preparation for the event, both Braun and McBain demonstrated their ability to focus on the most important issues for the MSP community, and keep the discussions on track.
- Cloud/SaaS Community: Chair John Rice and vice-chair Ted Roller put together one of the most entertaining and educational sessions of Breakaway, with a humorous and lively debate. One team of cloud experts championed "why the cloud is good for the channel," while the other took the opposing view, with both basically agreeing that it's a positive in the end. By selecting a debate format, Rice and Roller (along with CompTIA community manager Katherine Hunt) created an engaging atmosphere that covered almost every aspect of the cloud that every solution provider should know. The team also crafted and generated a tremendous "buzz" around the discussion, which lead to an engaging meeting that will surely drive valuable industry initiatives.
According to those who attended the other community meetings at Breakaway, the strong leadership of the group chairs and other members was evident, especially in the quality of the initiatives and discussions. Interested in leading or simply joining one of the groups? Email email@example.com
.Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and industry alliances director with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.