IT's Next Generation Takes the Wheel in CompTIA's New Future Leaders Community

CompTIA Future Leaders CommunityAs older members of the IT industry phase out, a new generation emerges — the millennial generation, predicted to shape the future of our industry.

“People outside of the channel, especially college students and young professionals, don’t truly see all of the innovation and change happening in the IT industry,” said Nate Teplow, marketing programs manager for Continuum Managed IT Services in Boston, and an early adopter of CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community, which launched in December.

There’s a need to recruit the next generation of leaders in the IT industry, he said, CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community is “just the start of that effort.”

“I think this community will help spread that awareness and provide its members with the platform, mentorship and excitement they crave as they enter and advance the working world,” Teplow said.   

Learning From Other Generations

CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community — built on understanding the intricacies of a multigenerational workforce and building best practices — is focused on recruitment for 2015, calling on millennials to explore the IT industry and realize that they have the power to drive it.

“Since this is our first year as an official community, we want to lay the foundation and start defining what makes us different than other generations,” said Samantha Ciaccia, channel engagement manager at Datto Inc., and a member of the Future Leaders Community steering committee, “but I think more importantly: what makes us the same.”

Ciaccia’s been fortunate to work with Channel Chiefs and industry veterans who have always made her feel that her voice was heard and thoughts were valid, despite her age, she said, and that the creation of the CompTIA Future Leaders Community expands that to others. She hopes it will enhance the confidence of millennials as they work side-by-side with well-respected industry leaders.

“There’s a lot that millennials can learn from older generations, but there’s also a lot that we can bring to the workplace, and the community formation has made me feel like the rest of the channel has recognized this need,” Teplow said. “It’s made me feel more passionate about the channel, and that I have the opportunity to take part in and drive some of the important changes.”

First IRL Meeting Set for AMM

Members of CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community first met in an online community call late last year and are gearing up for the community’s first live meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, during CompTIA’s Annual Member Meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. If you haven’t registered already, now’s a great time. Until then, its members are electing executive council members and planning wildly for the rest of the year.

“In 2015 we hope to grow the community, but ultimately we want to promote, encourage and provide a network that both young and tenured professionals can access to learn and explore ways to strengthen an extremely cool dynamic our organizations are experiencing,” said Brittani Von Roden, vice president of sales and marketing for Erb’s Technology Solutions in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and one of CompTIA’s first class of ChannelChangers, an elite group of young IT professionals chosen for the impacts they’ve already made on the industry. Nominations for the new class of ChannelChangers will be open in the first half of the year, and the new class will be named at ChannelCon 2015.

“Whether it’s around social media and communication barriers or career drivers for talent acquisition, we hope to address it,” Von Roden said.

Like the Future Leaders group, being named a ChannelChanger gave Von Roden the opportunity to showcase what she and like-minded millennials could bring to the table — more like a peer than the new kid.

“The Future Leaders group is another example of what CompTIA is doing to embrace this exciting time, and I’m grateful for the mentorships and opportunities that have presented themselves as a result,” Von Roden said. “The Future Leaders community provides an avenue for young professionals to collaborate, share experiences and provide recommendations on how to embrace the multigenerational workforce.”

A Generation Unlike Any Other

The Future Leaders Community is a great place for Generation Y to come together and discuss how they can help shape initiatives and goals for CompTIA, according to Arsalan Eizadirad, program manager for software and sales for Ricoh Canada Inc., in Toronto. “This generation is unlike any of its predecessors and is in constant lookout for different ways of sharing information, ideas and networking with others of the same generation,” Eizadirad said. “Future Leaders is a starting point for us to start appealing to others from our generation and grow this community to be more influential within the IT industry.”

For Hannah Erb, account manager for Collabrance L.L.C., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the creation of the Future Leaders Community made her more aware of the characteristics that make up a millennial, and how those characteristics fit into the IT industry.

“For instance, millennials quickly and easily adapt to change, which is important for a role in the IT industry which is constantly moving,” she said. “The Future Leaders Community gives us a platform to build guidance on what these characteristics mean to the millennials’ careers. It is an opportunity each month to share similar views with peer on how we can make a difference to our generation.”

Join CompTIA’s Future Leaders

CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community fills the need for a forum or community for millennial-aged IT associates, said Chris Phillips, who provides CompTIA Community staff leadership for the group. “This is a place where they can share ideas and come together,” he said.

“What is so exciting about the Future Leaders community is enthusiasm of the participants so far, and we are just weeks after launch,” Phillips said. “The level of interest in not only joining, but really wanting to be involved, is what telling me this will be a great community.”

The Future Leaders Community is, for now, limited to IT channel professionals born between 1980 and 2000, and will open some meetings to general participation. Connect with them on LinkedIn and explore their community page for more on the group and ways you can participate.

Michelle Peterson is a communications specialist for CompTIA.