CompTIA CEO: Millennials Will Build A Different Channel

By Khali Henderson Comments
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**Editor's Note: Click here for Channel Partners' complete coverage of CompTIA ChannelCon 2014.**

CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux spends a lot of time thinking about the future – not only its technology, but its channel. That’s not so unusual for the head of a trade association, but what is unusual is who he’s talking to: Millennials.

He’ll share some of what he’s learned – and introduce the channel to a few of these young professionals – in his keynote address Tuesday at ChannelCon 2014, CompTIA’s annual conference and exhibition, which is being held Aug. 4-6, at the J.W. Marriott in Phoenix.

“Millennials will build a lot different channel than we have today," said Thibodeaux in an advance interview with Channel Partners.

As an example, he talks about a CompTIA experiment wherein his board (mostly Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers) faced off with Millennials on the CompTIA staff to come up with ideas that would entice Millennials to attend ChannelCon. Predictably, the older set proposed X-games and concerts – exciting activities. The Millennials said they wanted to bring their friends or benefit a charity – more simple activities.

Thibodeaux’s takeaway is that whatever we think we know about Millennials we need to think again. And, simply ask them. CompTIA, he said, plans to form a Millennials Advisory Council. This will be an important voice for the association since he said 75 percent of the workforce will be Millennials by 2025.

For examples about how Millennials will change the future of work, he references a Forbes article from December 2013.

“Relative to boomers and Gen-Xers, Millennials have a different view of how work should get done and come into the workforce with a different set of expectations," the article said.

Here’s an example: They will choose corporate culture and meaningful work above everything else.

Thibodeaux is concerned about the mass retirement ahead for the Boomers in the IT space and how to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. Indeed, one of the things he’s learned from Millennials is they are eager for mentorship.

“There’s not going to be a complete reinvention," he said.

Meanwhile, CompTIA will continue to create alliances with young professionals. Its first salvo is recognizing five future leaders from the IT channel in the first-ever ChannelChangers Awards.

They include Jon Borgese, 29, director, channel marketing, Intermedia; Rory Jackson, 28, senior network engineer, Business Continuity Technologies; Raj Patel, 28, director, Vanti; Nathan Teplow, 24, marketing programs manager, Continuum Managed IT Services; and Brittani Von Roden, 29, vice president, sales and marketing, Erb’s Technology Solutions.

The winners, who will be honored at ChannelCon, were selected by an industry committee from nominees between the ages of 23 and 29 as of August 2014, who have two years’ experience in the IT industry and are currently employed by a CompTIA member company. Nominees were evaluated on:

  • the quality of their achievements and accomplishments;
  • their understanding of the channel’s opportunities and challenges, as well as their unique and creative thinking about them;
  • how well they thought and acted beyond their own company to benefit the industry;
  • their potential as a role model for industry peers; and
  • their ability to draw on experiences to look beyond their immediate future.
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