I just got back to the office after an action-packed trip to Chicago for CompTIA ChannelCon 2015. This was one of my favorite events of the year (so far) because it gave us a chance to not only meet with a good mix of current partners and prospects, but also sit down with a variety of IT thought leaders to discuss the future of the industry and focus on growing the community.
There were so many memorable moments and great conversations throughout the conference, but here are the five that standout the most for me.
1. Voting in the Dragon’s Den
One of the most exciting sessions I went to was ChannelCon’s Dragon’s Den. Four tech startups were competing to win a $5,000 cash prize. They each got to make a five-minute presentation to a panel of three judges (and about 1,000 members of the IT community including me), and then we all got to vote on who should win.
It was interesting to hear all the pitches and the advice each company got from the judges. The competitor’s products were really varied, ranging from a text analytics engine to a modular speaker system, and the winner ended up being Luna Lights, a portable lighting and monitoring system designed to help older adults and their caregivers. It was inspiring to see people so committed to developing new ideas!
2. Future Leaders panel discussion
I’m part of CompTIA’s Future Leaders Community, and I really enjoyed the lively debate during the group’s #Generational Divide panel discussion, which focused on bridging the gap between millennials and other generations. It was fascinating to see how people reacted to the discussion.
Millennials are a big part of the IT workforce now, but not every millennial is your typical millennial. There were people of all ages at the session, and we all agreed that no one wanted to be stereotyped. I can see the industry pushing boundaries and heading in a really cool directions, and the discussion showed me how respecting each other will help us all move forward together.
3. Choosing charitable organizations to support
Getting to participate in some of CompTIA’s charitable giving was another highlight of the event for me. Each of CompTIA’s communities and advisory councils got $10,000 and could choose up to two charities to donate the money to. I’m also part of the Advancing Women in IT community, and we chose to give our donations to TechGirlz and Year Up. It was great to sit down in a room with such a mix of people from the IT channel — customers, vendors, peers, and even competitors — and focus on making a difference and growing the IT community.
4. A glimpse inside Wrigley Field
I grew up in Indiana, which means I grew up watching the Cubs, so another part of the trip that I won’t forget is our visit to Wrigley Field. First, Andrew McIntyre, senior director of IT for the Chicago Cubs, spoke at the conference about how the organization uses technology and how it’s helping them transform. Then, later in the week, we all got to go visit Wrigley, walk on the field, and even take batting practice. It was awesome!
5. Seeing an all-start team in action
My favorite part of the trip, though, was getting to work the Intronis booth with five members of our executive team. Chairman and CEO Rick Faulk, Co-founder and VP of Channel Development Neal Bradbury, VP of Product Management Chris Crellin, VP of IT and Operations Scott Graham, and VP of Partner Success Jasmine Lombardi all made the trip to Chicago for ChannelCon.
We don’t have a turnout like that at every tradeshow I go to, so it was interesting to sit back and watch the interactions with partners and prospects. It seemed to create a higher level of conversation beyond basic product questions.
And we got some great reactions, too. Rick asked one partner if he could film the questions he was asking. After they finished talking, the partner asked what he did for Intronis. Rick handed him his business card, and the partner looked shocked. “Oh! You’re the real Rick Faulk,” he said. We laughed about it, but the partner went on to say he feels that he really has a voice with Intronis, that when he has something to say, it truly gets heard. And that’s feedback that we love to hear.
Erin Shaw Crowley is marketing manager at Intronis.