Can you talk about your roles and responsibilities as a member of the Common board of directors?
Each director, including myself, is responsible to represent the membership and the best interest of the group as a whole in terms of education, networking and community opportunities, and advocacy. In my view, the mission of the organization is basically to be a user community that promotes networking among it's members, serves as an advocate to IBM and other vendors in the community on IT issues, and work together to offer education to our own members on the System i platform and the technologies that surround the System i platform. In other words, we are all members, including board members, and one key responsibility is to enable all of the members to accomplish those goals. We do this by building and nurturing the volunteer teams that exist within the organization, by managing the finances of the group, and by collaborating with members through the volunteer structure.
The president assigns each director an area within Common to work. For instance, in my first three years, I served as the liaison to the education team, known as the SET (Strategic Education Team). My role was to represent the board to that team and to represent that team to the board on issues revolving around Common's education programs. Serving as liaisons is one way board members interact with the volunteer structure within Common. I will receive a new assignment after the board officers are elected this fall. What has your previous three years on Common's board been like?
In the past three years, I have had reinforcement of the belief that Common is a strong influence in the IBM community. IBM cares very much about Common and has a strong desire to continue to support and listen to us. Common members can take advantage of this through our requirements process online and by actively volunteering and participating in the organization.
I have also seen firsthand that the board listens very closely to the membership. The many changes that have occurred in the past three years are a direct result of asking the members about their needs (through surveys, etc.), and responding to those needs. We value the input as board members and also want to encourage everyone that has opinions about how Common can improve to jump in, volunteer, get active, and be heard.
As board members, we strive to make decisions based on the membership's needs – what's best for members. That's the primary driver. We also make decisions based on Common's structure. For instance, we recently reorganized the volunteer structure to better reflect the goals of Common. We now have three primary volunteer structures – education, networking and community, and leadership and advocacy. While our members didn't specifically speak to that point and ask us to reorganize, the directors determined that this structure would better enable Common to fulfill its mission in each of those areas.
IBM participates on the board with a liaison, and that person certainly represents IBM in terms of their support for Common. We do our best to represent member's concerns to IBM through our liaison, through meetings with IBM's leadership teams, and by facilitating the requirements process and our advocacy structures such as the CAAC (Common America Advisory Council). That group is supported within Common and by IBM to bring issues from the members to IBM. Again, it's our role to enable the membership to fulfill Common's mission, including advocacy to IBM. You certainly have an impressive history of working with System i, but what stands out in particular that has (or will) help you contribute to the System i community?
First, the organization of Common and the board in particular does not rely on any one individual's contributions. The real value of the board of directors is in the collective and diverse skills and thinking of the members as a leadership team. I value this very much and is one of the primary reasons I ran for re-election – the collaborative nature of this board and the sincere value I believe the board offers back to the members.
The value that I contribute to the board comes from various things in my background with this community. I have been a customer, serving as a developer and manager. I have been a business partner leading a software and consulting company. I have been, and still am, a longtime member and volunteer in the Common organization, serving both in the education team area and as a speaker. I am fortunate now to work in this industry in the publishing segment, where I have worked as an author and now editor in chief and publisher, listening to the community and offering content to help them do their jobs and improve their skills. All of these experiences give me background and connections to the community which help me contribute to Common as a volunteer on the board. What sorts of software, programming strategies or app development projects have you been working on lately?
Besides my duties as editor in chief and group publisher, I currently manage our Web development team, which involves a variety of projects on an ongoing basis. I participate in the product strategy and database design aspects primarily, lead the project management aspects, and provide feedback and suggestions.
One of the larger projects that is still evolving is the System iPortal which runs on our System i Model 520. This is a unique projects which combines web search, web services, and integration of several Web 2.0 type applications on the System i platform.