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Introducing 2020 First-Time IBM Z Champions

The IBM Champion program recognizes industry leaders for their contributions to the IBM Z platform

Janet Sun, Reg Harbeck, Chad Rikansrud, Sebastian Wind, Subhasish Sarkar, Meral Temel

Each year, IBM selects innovative technology leaders around the world to join the IBM Champion program. These IBM Champions support and mentor others in their field of expertise to help them get the most out of IBM technology. 

IBM Champions advocate for IBM products and services, expand the reach of the IBM portfolio, and provide feedback on IBM products and direction. 

They also share knowledge and expertise with their communities while helping them grow.

Empowering Global Diversity

This year’s 600+ Champions come from over 30 countries across six continents (see an interactive map of all Champions). Theresa Hans, IBM Z® advocacy program specialist and leader of the IBM Z Champions category, says this is a key benefit of the program. “Organizations face different challenges and opportunities based on where they are in the world, so I think the program is a really great way to learn from each other,” Hans says. “What’s happening in North America might not be happening in Berlin or Netherlands. They deal with different issues and maybe they think differently as well. At the same time, organizations tend to face common challenges regardless of location. We have Champions across the world and want to encourage continued geodiversity.”

Hans adds that the program pushed for increased geographical diversity this year. “We want to make sure that we’re spotlighting our Champions across the world.”

Building a Strong Champion Network

IBM Champions get invitations, discounts and VIP perks at IBM events. They also get IBM Champion-verified digital credentials, IBM Champion logo gear, exclusive access to online IBM communities and product development teams. They also get visibility and networking opportunities. 

“There are a lot of potential Champions who don’t even know about the program,” Hans says. “These people are still great advocates for the platform within the community.”

Hans encourages IT workers to recognize the work of their peers and to nominate themselves as Champions. She keeps in touch with nominees to encourage their advocacy efforts. 

“We appreciate advocates for the platform and what they do to build up this community,” Hans says. “Just get out there and get involved. It makes IBM Z better. It makes our community better.”

Let’s take a closer look at six first-time IBM Z Champions from this year.

“There are a lot of potential Champions who don’t even know about the program. These people are still great advocates for the platform within the community.”
Theresa Hans, IBM Z advocacy program specialist and leader of the IBM Z Champions category

2020 First-Time Champions

Janet Sun

Janet Sun is the senior manager, product line for BMC Software in southern California. She has worked on many platforms in her career, but believes IBM Z is the leader when it comes to capabilities, security and robustness. She appreciates its reliability, capacity and performance. 

Sun volunteers in the SHARE IBM Z user group, and regularly speaks at SHARE and IBM Technical University (TechU), where she promotes IBM Z. She wants to involve younger professionals in the mainframe to demonstrate the value of the platform.

BMC Software was one of the first clients to install a new IBM z15™ as part of the early ship program. Sun’s team develops systems management software that can help to automate and simplify the management of the IBM z/OS® environment. She believes IBM Z will evolve to become a system necessary for any business, with a more secure platform and the capability to support workloads of any size. She’s honored to be selected as a Champion, and is excited to do more to promote IBM Z.

Reg Harbeck

Reg Harbeck is a chief strategist at Mainframe Analytics Ltd., located in Fort Langley, British Columbia. He hosts the zTalk podcast, writes articles and blog posts on IBM Z technology, gives both in-person and virtual presentations, mentors those new to the platform, and teaches courses about IBM Z technology, especially IBM z/OS and systems connected to it. 

Harbeck just finished a master’s degree with a thesis titled “The Humanity of the Mainframe.” He’s passionate about reconnecting the deepest aspects of community to our understanding of technology. He believes that we will see more mainframe capacity growth with the continued growth of Linux® on the platform, including IBM z/OS containers. He sees the platform as becoming the highest-performing, most secure, and most cost-effective business computing platform available. 

Harbeck is the first IBM Z Champion from Canada, and wants to take this opportunity to renew Canadian mainframe culture.

Chad Rikansrud

Chad Rikansrud is the director of North American Consulting Services with BMC Software. He believes that the world needs the scalability, resiliency and stability for core applications that IBM Z provides. Working with IBM z/OS, he has found that IBM Z runs the most complex and dependable applications for the largest companies.

Rikansrud’s company designs tools to help companies automate the discovery of security vulnerabilities, operated by people who have less experience with IBM Z as a platform. 

He's happy to be recognized for his support of the IBM Z platform and to be included in such an accomplished group of his peers. 

Sebastian Wind

Sebastian Wind works in system design for DATEV eG, a services provider for taxes, accountants and attorneys based in Nuremberg, Germany. Working on a batch system processing payroll, he finds that IBM Z provides the security, scalability and reliability necessary to satisfy customer demands. His company stays on the cutting edge of IBM Z by looking into every new IBM feature and adopting the ones that best meet business needs.

Wind is part of a network of young professionals at his company called zTalents. Outside of work, he promotes education about mainframes in universities. He works at the local university in Nuremberg to help them build and maintain mainframe courses. His next big project will be to install an IBM zEC12 donated by a German consultancy to a university in Leipzig. 

Wind’s favorite thing about IBM Z is the community around it. He has met many great people through the community, and he loves the idea of running a huge business on an efficient, high-end machine. He’s excited for the IBM Z platform’s integration within a hybrid multicloud environment. He is honored to be a Champion, and it helps him stay enthusiastic about his work.

Subhasish Sarkar

Subhasish Sarkar is a senior SQA engineer for BMC Software India Pvt. Ltd. He has worked with different IBM Z mainframe technologies for the past 12 years. He shares his knowledge and expertise through writing technical articles and blog posts, managing a Facebook technical community page, publishing articles with several technical community groups and conducting webinars. 

Sarkar is proud to work on a platform that supports mission-critical businesses. He is particularly proud of BMC Software’s Automated Mainframe Intelligence mainframe solutions, which empower clients to make their mainframe self-managing. 

Sarkar thinks that lifelong learning is the key to any career in technology and that change is the only constant. With technology changing so quickly, people need to constantly upgrade their skillsets. He thinks that IBM Z will continue improving with the continuous adoption of DevOps and the availability of cutting-edge security technologies. 

Sarkar is thrilled to be recognized for his passionate work with IBM Z mainframes and is humbled to be included among those contributing to IBM communities.

Meral Temel

Meral Temel is the manager of the IBM z/OS team at Türkiye İş Bankası in Istanbul, Turkey. Her team is responsible for z/OS core, mainframe storage, mainframe network and security. Temel’s favorite thing about the IBM Z platform is how everything must be perfect, from having the highest availability, to remaining the most reliable, scalable and efficient platform. The success exists in the details and that’s why she thinks the mainframe is a great platform. 

Temel has been volunteering at SHARE for nearly 10 years and presenting at numerous IBM and SHARE events since 2007. In addition, she’s the creator of the MBSP blog on the SHARE website. She believes it’s important to share the mainframe’s capabilities so people can see its real value.

Temel’s team at Türkiye İş Bankası is essential, because much like the mainframe, banking needs 100% availability and reliability. She is honored to be selected as a first-time IBM Z Champion and says if she had to go back to school, she would absolutely study being a system programmer on the mainframe platform again.

Key Expertise, Extraordinary Support

Each IBM Champion exhibits both expertise and extraordinary support of IBM technology, communities and solutions. They will continue to do so within the Champions program as they advocate for IBM. Nominations for the program are currently closed, but the 2021 nomination period for all areas will open in September 2020.

See all of the 2020 IBM Champions and learn more about nominations or reach out to Theresa Hans at 

Sponsored Content

Meet Dusty Rivers: 11-Time IBM Champion

As an 11-time IBM Champion, Dusty Rivers knows a thing or two about the IBM Z® platform. In fact, he’s worked on the system for 43 years! 

“Given my experience, I know how important it is to the lifeblood of companies,” he says. “In the past, it was seen as older technology, but that’s no longer the case. Recently it’s seen a resurgence.” 

As director of Z systems at GT Software, Rivers works with global companies to API-enable their IBM Z systems. Many use IMS® and CICS® systems for their core applications and he helps them create complex APIs to weave into their new architectures. 

Outside the office, Rivers continues to advocate for the mainframe as the SHARE program manager of the IMGT Program. He also enjoys attending sporting events and spending time with his family.

Rivers is humbled to be named an IBM Champion for 11 consecutive years. “It means that years of hard work and advocacy have been recognized. I hope to connect and influence those that are new to the platform for years to come,” he says.

Dusty Rivers

Director of Z systems, GT Software

Dusty has worked on the IBM Z platform for 43 years. He also enjoys spending time with his six grandchildren.

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