By Martha McConaghy, SHARE® Vice President
It’s hard to believe the last SHARE event of 2018, held recently in St. Louis, has come and gone. I look forward to these events twice a year, which have played a significant role in shaping my career. As the Director of Conference Operations, it was my privilege to lead a great team of dynamic individuals for the last four years. The Program and Project leaders and volunteers have worked so hard to bring quality education and networking experiences to the SHARE community. Now, I look forward to serving SHARE in a new role as much as I appreciated the opportunity to be in Operations.
This summer’s event in St. Louis was exciting and full of energy. Over 1,000 of you joined us for a rich variety of technical sessions, covering some of the most pressing topics in the industry, including pervasive encryption, data privacy and cloud technology, to name just a few. To those of you who offered your time and talents to deliver presentations, we thank you immensely. Your willingness to share your knowledge with your peers is at the heart of this organization’s mission: “Educate-Network-Influence!”
Our two keynote presentations gave us engaging, unique ways to kick off each day. On Monday, we were treated to an unforgettable session with The Panic Squad. The improv comedy group kept us entertained, and we learned how one of improv’s fundamental principles – saying “yes, and” – can lead to better collaboration and teamwork. Who would have thought the world of comedy and enterprise IT could mesh so well? I certainly never imagined that a simple game of “rock-paper-scissors” could get a room full of over 800 people yelling and cheering. A great way to kick off the week.
Tuesday brought the announcement that had us all talking about a new “member” of the community: Zowe, the first open-source project based on z/OS, launched by the Open Mainframe Project. This is an exciting shift, one that addresses the rapidly changing landscape of enterprise IT and will ideally create an open community on the mainframe, where everyone has a seat at the table.
Following that announcement was a wonderful discussion featuring four new-tenure mainframers and an information systems adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. These new-tenure professionals are bright, tenacious and a promising sign of what’s ahead. They are not afraid to dive into learning – some even admitting they knew little about the mainframe before embarking on their careers. However, with some research and work experience, they learned along the way. The skills gap in our industry is real, but these young professionals are a reassurance that the next generation will make its impact.
The city of St. Louis rolled out the red carpet and welcomed SHARE with traditional Midwest hospitality. Signs welcoming SHARE attendees were displayed in businesses all over downtown. Whether it was taking in a baseball game, enjoying some famous St. Louis BBQ, or going to the top of the arch, we all enjoyed the best the city could offer.
SHARE semi-annual events are also a great opportunity to network, catch up with friends and gather to recognize members that go above and beyond for the association. Once a year, SHARE expresses gratitude to all volunteers with service awards. These are given at five year intervals of service. Congratulations to all of our volunteers who reached the five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years of service.
At St. Louis, two of our volunteers received recognition for 40 years of service. First was Aron Eisenpress of City University of New York. Our “quiet wise man,” Aron has served SHARE in many capacities over the years, most recently as Treasurer and now Secretary.
The other volunteer was the “grande dame” of SHARE, Cheryl Watson. At the volunteer luncheon, she was recognized for her long tenure of activism, leadership and volunteer efforts within SHARE. Not every association is so lucky to have someone as thoughtful and eager to lend a hand as Cheryl has been, and we are grateful for her service. Few of us can imagine SHARE without her.
Finally, Marty Zimelis was recognized for his 26 years of service to SHARE as he steps back from his role in Operations, a role he has been filling for more than 11 years. Luckily, he will continue to lend his wisdom to SHARE as a member of the next Nominating Committee.
In the coming months, we’ll be preparing for SHARE Phoenix (March 10-15, 2019). If you have knowledge to share, share it! Being a presenter is not only a great opportunity to teach others, but to also build your presentation skills. Proposals are due Friday, Oct. 5, and I encourage you to submit here. The heart of this association is driven by your participation – if not presenting, I hope to see you in the halls at Phoenix. The countdown begins now!