Learn How CompTIA Helps Collabrance Master Managed Services

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When Lindsay Dick first dipped her toes in the IT channel, she expected — in fact, invited — the challenge. Her professional expertise wasn’t geared toward information technology, but what she lacked in a formal technical background she made up for in pluck. But when it came right down to it, the initial experience turned out to be a bit more overwhelming than she’d imagined.

Luckily, Dick had the good fortune to connect with Lori Berry, an executive council member of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT Community (AWIT), who offered her mentorship. She helped Dick navigate the nuts and bolts of IT, and spelled out the relationships that comprise the IT channel.

“[Berry] kind of took me in,” Dick said. “She showed me the components of a computer, a server, how they all work together and I went home crying that night, thinking, ‘There’s no way I am going to learn all this stuff, all these acronyms.’”

But she did, with a spirit that enabled her to help her company, Collabrance, expand from a beta-tested initiative servicing just four partners to a rapidly growing managed services provider (MSP) with 55 partners reselling its services. As an MSP, Collabrance provides its partners with a full range of help-desk services managed by a support staff based out of the company’s office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With a fully built-out IT support team, Collabrance provides partners with access to a remote monitoring and management tool, a ticketing system and a full technology stack to address further IT concerns.

Four years ago, when the company’s evolution was still in its planning stage, Dick was working her first post-college marketing job for Collabrance’s parent company, GreatAmerica. GreatAmerica’s expansion into the relatively new area of managed services was, to her, the perfect opportunity to transition to a sales role. The position would also take her into technology, an unfamiliar and exciting territory.

“[Collabrance was] looking for a sales resource and I was drawn to IT because I like to know how things work together,” Dick said. “I knew that businesses were becoming more dependent on it. I use it in my daily life, so I thought it would be an interesting direction.”

As Dick took on her new role, she realized that there was a lot to learn. In addition to Berry’s clear guidance on technology’s impact on businesses, Dick also learned a great deal from CompTIA ChannelCon event (then called Breakaway). She returned with armloads of notes detailing the functions of the IT channel.

Using the information she collected at ChannelCon, Dick helped Collabrance move its MSP model through the beta stage, and since has had a hands-on role as this effective service model yielded more and more effective partnerships.

Today, Collabrance projects its revenue and growth will triple in the next two years. As director of sales, Dick is focused on defining the sales and marketing direction of the company and on getting new partners on board to implement managed services. Confident in her knowledge, she stays on top of the ever-evolving technology world and the business models that accompany it, and continues to grow in a friendly, rewarding work environment.

“The culture we have built here is really focused on the team,” Dick said, “on treating them with the utmost integrity and respect.”

Since its inception, Collabrance has been a CompTIA member. It made use of CompTIA training and educational resources to establish best practices and build the business. Now thriving, Collabrance continues to promote certifications, ChannelCon attendance and engagement with CompTIA at all levels.

Dick enthusiastically endorses this, describing CompTIA as “inspirational.” She frequently uses CompTIA’s online education resources and webinars, enjoys the annual partner events and is active in AWIT.

Because CompTIA’s events were crucial to helping her understanding the IT channel, she now encourages new team members to explore the valuable collection of tools, information and networking opportunities on CompTIA’s member website.

“When we have newbies that join our team and take them to the events, it’s a really relaxed, easy, but very focused and productive use of their time,” said Dick. “We’re very appreciative of that.

“CompTIA’s done a great job of bringing together all the resources for the channel in one place and really created a warm and welcoming environment.”

Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago.