SHARE Builds Bridges in Pittsburgh

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SHARE Pittsburgh, held Aug. 4-9, 2019, was an opportunity for mainframe professionals to learn from sessions on the evolution of information technology; how to secure organizations against cybercrime; opening the mainframe; and the future of DevOps. Scott Fagen, SHARE director of industry influence, explains, “The number of attendees and exhibitors continues to rise.” Hemanth Rama, SHARE zNextGen project manager, agreed, stating that he met a number of first-time attendees.

New at SHARE Pittsburgh was the networking lounge, where attendees could recharge themselves and their devices as well as attend scheduled meet-ups. One of these enabled attendees to network with SHARE board members and volunteers, while another paired first-time attendees with zNextGen members. At SHARE Pittsburgh, the Women In Technology group held a networking event where attendees shared best practices on encouraging more women to flourish in the mainframe world.

On Monday, Robyn Benincasa’s opening keynote, Why Winners Win, outlined the common attributes of people who succeed even when facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. With courage, luck (really a mix of opportunity and preparation), adversity management, skills, and a keen ability to create synergy with colleagues, she said these leaders can motivate and inspire themselves and those around them to reach their goals. Benincasa shared a round of incredible stories and video footage of extreme performers in action. Rama says, “Robyn Benincasa was simply mind-blowing. She connected well on her challenges and achievements to the audience’s work life.” Reg Harbeck, SHARE Enterprise-Wide program officer, agrees, “Robyn was interesting and compelling.” If you missed the keynote, check out her interview with SHARE here.

SHARE later announced the winners of the John R. Ehrman Award for Sustained Excellence in Technical Education and the SHARE President’s Award. Justin Bastin, SHARE president and CEO, presented Melinda W. Varian with the John R. Ehrman Award for her commitment to SHARE for three decades, as well as her contributions to the CMS Pipelines tutorial series and her VM subject-matter expertise.

SHARE also recognized Glenn Anderson, a former IBM representative, as a contributor to the MVS Program, a repeat Best Session winner, and a dedicated educator of both new and experienced mainframers. He received the SHARE President’s Award for his relentless advocacy for the organization and his superb networking skills and willingness to share his mainframe knowledge with others, among other attributes.

The second keynote, The Evolution of IT, explored how successful IBM Z® teams have evolved in their approach to recruiting, training, and retaining new hires to ensure collaborative learning between multiple generations of employees. Among key takeaways were the need for supervisors to provide consistent hands-on work and pay significant attention to new recruits’ development. Additionally, employers should be open to allowing employees to explore the mainframe world.

The keynote was followed by a moderated question-and-answer session. Ray Mullins, SHARE project manager, LE and Programming Languages (AADI/Lang), says that the TED-like talk “hit on one of my touchstones — lowering the cost barrier of entry into the mainframe ecosystem. It’s good that there were two examples of relatively recent college graduates up on the stage.”

Connections Were a Cornerstone of SHARE Pittsburgh

There was a mix of old and new at SHARE in Pittsburgh. Rama says he learned about one of the best benefits of SHARE — the SHARE Requirements system, an online advocacy program for SHARE members to influence IBM products and services. SHARE members can submit, discuss, and vote on requirements. In reflecting on sessions he attended, Rama also notes, “The Open Mainframe project session was very informative and seemed like a promising way to get mainframe onto an open source arena. Currently they have seven open projects, such as Zowe, ZOROW, and Feilong.”

IBM Lab Systems, Key Resources, Virtual Z Computing, and Open Mainframe Project sponsored the Women in IT activities, which included a breakfast. Despite concerns that the early hour would hamper attendance, Martha McConaghy, SHARE vice president, says the first Women in IT breakfast was a success with 90 people in attendance. “By the time we were half way through the hour, the room was full of people who were very actively talking and networking,” she adds. “Throughout the rest of the week, people would stop me in the hallway and say how much they enjoyed it. It was definitely a great way to get the week started.”

Meanwhile, both Mullins and Harbeck were pleased to see that the Women in IT track, introduced at Phoenix, had a strong showing in Pittsburgh. Harbeck adds, “I attended one of their sessions. It has the potential to grow, mature, and have more depth and forward-looking insights.” McConaghy adds, “I was especially happy to see a number of men attend and participate in discussions and round tables. They asked very insightful questions that generated excellent discussions.”

SHARE introduced the Security Warrior digital badge in Pittsburgh, as well. Attendees could earn the badge by attending at least 15 out of 45 designated sessions on security for z/OS, Communications Server, TCP/IP, VM/Linux, MQ, data security, and more. Those who earned the badge can demonstrate their mastery of mainframe security after filling out an online form and answering one question per session. Once earned, the digital badge can be added to email signatures, social media profiles, and digital resumes.

Harbeck says, “I was impressed with how much ‘new’ I encountered at SHARE that was such an appropriate emergence from what came before: new and more vendors in the SHARE Technology Exchange Expo (STE), many new and young attendees, new areas of focus that include Women in IT and DevOps, and new initiatives such as lunch at the STE. It is good to see how SHARE continues to participate in building the future on such a strong foundational past.”

Fagen agrees, stating that many of the new exhibitors and attendees he spoke with said they would be back to SHARE in Fort Worth and Boston. He also says some organizations have expressed interest in becoming strategic partners with SHARE.

In the city of bridges, SHARE continued to build connections between seasoned and newer mainframe professionals, highlight what has come before and where technology is heading, and grow its membership.


Save the date for SHARE Fort Worth 2020 — February 23-28, at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Learn more and register here.

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