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Victor Johnson, president of Johnston IT Consulting and vice chair of the Future Leaders Community, kicked off the community’s meeting at ChannelCon, being held at the JW Marriott Austin, Texas, July 31 to August 2, today. He informed attendees that we’d be breaking into a workshop that would accomplish two things; identifying resources to bring together parents, teachers and tech businesses, and changing the name of the community’s “make tech sexy” initiative. According to Johnson, the goal here is to make sure children in disadvantaged communities know IT is an option for them. “If you don’t know something’s a possibility, are you going to do it?” he asked.
So, everyone in the well-populated room broke into four groups to discuss four topics; the name change, parents, teachers and businesses. Three names were lofted as options – Embrace Tech, Techange and Tech a Chance. The first option was selected as best.
In identifying ways to attract parents to tech as a career option for their kids, this group listed the following options:
The group discussing teachers stressed the importance of pairing teachers with the right vendors and partners to get them the right tech tools. They also said there’s a need to assess a teacher’s skill level and educate them.
The group discussing business suggested bringing businesses together with local non-profits, as well as bringing students into tech offices, scheduling speaker engagements in schools and social media outreach.
To close the meeting, the community acknowledged its 2017 ChannelChangers award-winners Heather Ptak, community manager at ConnectWise; Melissa Lyons, global channel programs manager at Sophos; and Brandon Garcin, senior content strategist at Continuum Managed Services. Garcin credited his company for his accomplishments. “Creativity and development of your own ideas is encouraged,” Garcin said. “Leadership and management are very supportive.”
Asked about the challenges inherent in succeeding in IT at her age, Lyons said, “For me, it’s been a struggle,” adding that she’s the youngest member of her team. For this reason, she was told she was not ready to work at a certain level. “My response was, ‘What do I need to do as a skill-set to get to that level?” She also added that it’s a struggle to work past millennial stereotypes of just expecting promotions.
Ptak was asked what about ConnectWise inspired her? She praised its great company culture, and added that she has a huge passion for philanthropy, which was largely missing from her company, and she worked hard to get executive buy-in on engaging in it.
“Our marketing team is now doing pro-bono work for non-profits in the area,” she said.