Passing the Torch: Looking for the Next Generation of Channel Leaders

CompTIA Future Leaders CommunityA thriving industry requires a steady stream of new professionals, ideas and tools to keep the wheels turning. You simply can’t turn potential into success without having the resources needed to make it happen. For the IT industry, that means talent. Not just to fill the entry-level positions, but to add their thoughts, ideas and, in many cases, the inspiration to make things happen. In fact, many IT companies depend heavily on their youngest employees already ̶ for the skills and insight they bring to the table.

With the innovation cycles gaining speed, our reliance on those with the latest training and a growing connection to today’s end users will continue to escalate. This generation grew up with computers and mobile devices, so the tech learning curve is often smaller for even the most complex solutions. That experience makes a great foundation for companies that can leverage it properly. That requires giving younger employees the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their starting position.

Whether they are techs, sales professionals or members of the marketing team, many of them want to make a difference. Not only within their own company, but with customers, prospects and in the IT industry as a whole. This positive energy needs to be nurtured with greater responsibilities (and rewards for jobs well done).           

These are the future leaders who can push your company forward and keep our industry moving in the right direction. They will be called on to inspire co-workers and drive us all to the next level, sharing ideas and experiences that improve the way we do business. These individuals are what CompTIA affectionately refers to as ChannelChangers.

What exactly is a ChannelChanger? It’s an award that recognizes the future leaders of the information technology industry. These young professionals should be considered leaders based on their actions (not necessarily their titles). The ChannelChangers nomination process for 2016 is underway. So, if you know someone between 23 and 29 years old (as of August 2016) with at least two years of IT Industry experience who making a real difference in a CompTIA member company, please take time to submit them for this honorary distinction.  

Establishing a High Bar for Those Who Follow
As in most recognition programs, the first honorees establish a standard that others strive to meet. The bar set by the previous two classes is quite lofty, including the 2015 class:


  • Samantha (Sam) Ciaccia, Channel Engagement Manager at Datto Inc.

    In addition to her ChannelChanger designation, she has received the 2015 and 2014 CRN “Women of the Channel” award, as well as being named to the 2014 MSPmentor 250 and CRN 2015 Up & Comers lists. Sam has also been an active CompTIA member, playing an instrumental part in founding and leading the Future Leaders Community. A true channel advocate, she shares advice and best practices in numerous blogs and industry publications each year. 

  • Chance Hoover, Channel Marketing Manager at Intel Security.

    In addition to serving as a project manager for many of his company’s high profile events, Chance is actively involved in numerous youth protection activities. He leads Intel Security’s Online Safety for Kids Program, which has directly trained more than 10,000 children and helped prepare and facilitate training to over 20,000 children and adults.    

  • Samantha Klein, Marketing Manager at IBM

    This passionate and inspired marketing executive and social media coach is credited with founding and co-leading IBM’s first and only online millennial community, IBM Millennial Corps. Under her leadership, this virtual community has grown to represent more than 3,000 young professionals across 42 countries. 

    The professionals honored in 2014 helped establish a pattern of excellence for the award. That class featured a number of cloud and managed services professionals with a wide range of skills and broad industry responsibilities, including:   

  • Jon Borgese, Director of Channel Marketing at Intermedia
  • Rory-Jackson, Senior Network Engineer at Business Continuity Technologies
  • Raj Patel, Director at Vanti
  • Nathan Teplow, Marketing Programs Manager at Continuum Managed IT Services
  • Brittani Von Roden, now Chief Marketing Officer at CloudPlus

Why would young channel professionals want to be part of the next designee class? Sam Ciaccia summarizes all the benefits quite well. “Being named a ChannelChanger is an amazing experience. You gain more confidence and really find – or better yet - make your place in the industry. It gives you a voice, a strong voice that people listen to and respect. It also helps shape your career and gives you the opportunity to do more and be more. Being a ChannelChanger has really helped me identify where I want to take my career and presented me with so many new relationships to make it happen faster.”

The 2016 class will be recognized during the August 1st-3rd CompTIA ChannelCon event, to be held in Hollywood, Florida.  

Do you know someone who fits the criteria? Perhaps a co-worker or employee who has successfully implemented new programs or constantly shares ideas to improve the organization, or who has made a positive impact in some other manner? Whether they work in a managed services business or for a vendor or distributor, all who meet the age and experience requirements are invited to apply or be nominated. They might just need that extra push that you can provide.  

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