By Brian Peterson, SHARE Immediate Past President
If your career, like mine, includes mainframe technology, it might seem that SHARE has been a part of the mainframe ecosystem for your entire working life (and, in fact, it has). Year in and year out for more than 60 years, as a volunteer-run and independent user group, SHARE has provided education, professional networking and industry influence to IT professionals and SHARE’s Member organizations. Have you ever wondered about the volunteer aspects of the organization or how someone might make the shift from being an event attendee to a volunteer?
I’d like to ask you to take a few minutes to consider some of the volunteer aspects of SHARE and perhaps reflect on the implications of our volunteer structure. Our volunteers become part of SHARE because they want to help drive the organization. At the same time, SHARE relies on having a ready supply of responsible, hard-working, communicative volunteers able to provide leadership and support at all levels of the organization.
In "the good old days," SHARE participants were anxious to share the latest bugs, fixes, etc., with anyone who would listen. Today, this spirit of community is as strong as ever because SHARE remains the only community of practically oriented technical experts in the complex enterprise systems world — and there's a continuing, growing need for these experts. Our organization looks forward to a bright and active future, and we are actively working to ensure we have a strong channel of volunteers to get us there.
Volunteering covers a wide range of activities from participating on a committee to recruiting speakers and organizing presentations for the next conference to setting the strategic direction of the entire organization by serving on SHARE’s Board of Directors. I’ve always found that my volunteer experience is a much more immersive one than as just an attendee at SHARE events.
As SHARE’s Immediate Past President, I chair the Nominating Committee, which is charged with identifying and supporting SHARE’s next generation of leaders. The primary responsibility of the Nominating Committee is to propose a slate of candidates for the next SHARE election. But the informal role of the committee, which is to identify up and coming volunteers throughout the organization and help position them for new leadership opportunities, is even more important.
Some of you may know one or more of the committee’s members: Rick Barlow, Anne Caluori, Susan Rice and Michael Stack. And you might be interested in the notes from one of our recent discussions about the benefits that we have experienced as volunteers. They include:
- The opportunity to expand personal knowledge and expertise in planning, managing and leading a large organization;
- The opportunity to interface with key personnel throughout the SHARE organization and to discuss current and developing technologies;
- The opportunity for personal growth through the interchange of ideas with peers, providers, other user groups, etc.;
- The opportunity to meet and build personal networks with key personnel at IBM, other user groups and other industry organizations;
- The opportunity to interact with the SHARE membership;
- The opportunity to serve SHARE and its members in a meaningful way by providing volunteer leadership at a critical level (often referred to as “giving something back” to SHARE); and
- The opportunity to significantly contribute to the future of SHARE and user groups in general.
SHARE was founded in 1955 and as we celebrate our 60th anniversary, we must remember that SHARE exists because of volunteers.
We encourage you to think about your relationship with SHARE, your expectations of it and the contributions you feel prepared to make toward SHARE’s continued success. If that reflection points toward seeking a role within SHARE’s leadership, we urge you to talk with us. After all, the long-term effectiveness of SHARE depends on the dedication and efforts of individuals committed to working for the common good.
I titled this article “The Future of SHARE.” By now, you’ve learned why. Without its volunteers, SHARE simply isn’t SHARE. The future of SHARE is you. Join us — you’ll be glad you did!
Brian Peterson is an IT architect at Optum, a health services company partnering with health plans, providers and pharmacies to serve the healthcare needs of 74 million people. Peterson has been a volunteer at SHARE for 25 years, holding project and program leadership roles for the MVS Storage Management Project and the MVS Program. He joined SHARE’s Board in 2008 as director for Industry Influence and served as secretary and then vice president; he served as SHARE’s president from 2012-2014.