One-on-One with COMMON
Heading an IT education organization is no small task, especially one as large as COMMON. But that's the challenge Lynne Schwartz accepted when she took the job as executive director of the largest iSeries user group last fall.
Having served for 13 years as head of the mainframe user group SHARE, which is similar to COMMON, Schwartz brings a wealth of experience to the position. In her first year at the helm of COMMON, she implemented several changes in the organizational structure and realigned job responsibilities for COMMONs 25 or so staff members.
Now, her attention has shifted to the future. She recognizes the near-term challenges the organization faces, including communication, boosting attendance, attracting younger conference attendees and keeping up with a changing education delivery marketplace. iSeries Magazine recently sat down with Schwartz to discuss these and other issues in advance of the Oct. 21-25 fall conference in Minneapolis, Minn.
Q: What are some of the challenges COMMON as an organization faces going into the latter part of 2001 and early in 2002?
A: The biggest challenge is to communicate the value of this user group to iSeries professionals. When people see the return on investment from COMMON, the rest falls into place; that is education. We need to be able to reach all of the current and potential users of iSeries and increase our information penetration in the iSeries community.
We're asking the iSeries community to compare five days of COMMON to other forms of training or to having a consulting firm come into their shop. The difference is that first, because COMMON is member helping member, the education is more cost-effective. Looking only at price, registration is approximately $1,000-a great value compared with other programs.
Second, COMMON empowers people to solve problems. No one understands an issue better than those who work with the system every day.
As for late 2001 and on into 2002, our first concern will be making our April 2002 conference in Nashville (Tenn.) a big hit. Our theme is "Topping the Charts in Nashville." I'm very optimistic about this conference. We're providing targeted education and excellent networking opportunities.
"Yes, everyone needs education and we offer that, but everyone also has problems and COMMON is the place to get them solved." -Lynne Schwartz, Executive Director, COMMON
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