ITKAN Chat – Interview with Adam Hecktman

Adam Hecktman

Adam Hecktman, Director, Microsoft Technology Center

Using social media to foster broad, interactive dialog:
A chat with Microsoft’s Adam Hecktman

By Hsuan-min Chou, hsuan@jumpbean.com

Adam Hecktman, a native Chicagoan, leads Microsoft’s Midwest region as Director of Technology where he builds relationships with the city’s Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Mr. Hecktman consulted at Andersen Consulting as a rank-and-file employee. Mr. Hecktman’s next assignment at Andersen was two years in Grand Rapids, Mich., while Microsoft was ready to send him to Hawaii for a sales meeting. An easy decision, no doubt!

Mr. Hecktman is active in the non-profit industry, sitting on the advisory boards of Chicago Children’s Museum and Northwestern University’s Family Institute. Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Hecktman was able to answer a few questions regarding his engagement with ITKAN/SPR and how he uses social media at Microsoft.

Tell me about yourself, and your role at Microsoft?

Adam Hecktman: I am a lifelong Chicagoan. Chicago and Technology are my two passions. I love them both. So my role as the Director of the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago is kind of tailor-made for me. I have been with Microsoft for almost 20 years. I’m one of the few people I know of that can say with conviction that every day at work has been a fantastic day!

What led you to become involved with ITKAN/SPR? 

AH: I was involved with SPR before ITKAN. Microsoft has a close, long-standing relationship with one of the SPR companies (MPS Partners). It was through that, years ago, that I met Pat Maher. Pat runs another SPR company (nAblement) and is also the leader of ITKAN.

Pat has had a very powerful impact on my way of thinking about a lot of things. One of those things is the potential that people with disabilities bring to the workforce table.  And a second is the obstacles that they must overcome to participate in that workforce.

Having now been part of ITKAN, I have made friendships with some very talented people that any company would be lucky to have on their staff.

Why are you so invested/interested in social media, and in what types of social media do you engage? Blog, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn? How do they help you?

AH: I am invested in social media, and yes, I use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn regularly. However, I might not be your typical social media user.

I mean I do love user-generated content, and I love how that informs broad interactive dialogue. But the social media that I use regularly are the social networking tools internal to my own company, Microsoft. Let me give you two examples:

We have an internal feed that we call OfficeTalk. It is micro-blogging internal to the company. Think of it like you would an internal Twitter. I am not using it so much to broadcast news or topics. I am using it for what I think is a higher purpose—to recognize broadly people’s accomplishments. Whenever I see someone who has done something to make other’s great, I post a little note on OfficeTalk. That way, potentially everyone in the company can see this person’s accomplishments.

In that same vein, we have a tool called Kudos. This is a peer-recognition service that allows you to thank people at Microsoft, and track who has recognized you for something. Since it is a cloud service, it is available to me when I am on or off the corporate network. Oh, and it sends a message to your manager so that you are recognized up the chain. :^)

This is how I get value from social media. I know that everyone has their own reasons for using it or not using it; this is mine.

How have you used social media, and what has been your greatest challenge?

AH: My greatest challenge is understanding how to filter social media tools in the most efficient way possible. Tools like TweetDeck help. But the content you see is only as good as the content people post.

What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself? For Microsoft? For ITKAN?

AH: I like to think that everything I do helps me represent Microsoft and the organizations I work with like ITKAN.

So it can be as broad as discussing a technology on the TV news, or as narrow as a discussion with someone I met on the El [Chicago’s elevated train system]. It all reflects on you, your company, and your organizations. Beyond that, I really do not have a strategy for creating visibility for myself.

Tell us about some of the people you’ve met while working in social media.

AH: There are some people who have really mastered the art of generating great content in social media. One of my favorites is Dr. Mark Drapeau, who edits the site http://Publicyte.com .

This is a social media play that takes a theme of public interest and riffs on it. He has a great term for it: Civic Innovation. Recent themes have been around connectivity, and the public interest and policy surrounding it. Other themes have included cybersecurity, etc.

Probably the master of social media in Chicago is Howard Tullman. Howard runs Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, which is a fantastic two year digital media school right here in the Loop. It is a very forward-thinking, push-the-envelope kind of school that is building the next generation of digital media talent.

But the driving force behind it is really Howard himself. What makes him such an icon in this space is the way he can take a story, and combine so many different types of social media to surround it. He is one of the people in the city that I admire most.

Where do you see your involvement with ITKAN going? 

AH: That is a good question. Right now, I support them by providing them with a space to meet, access to interesting and (hopefully) helpful speakers, and of course my personal friendship. I’m really happy with that involvement.

But what I want to see is more people recognizing the potential that each of these members possess. The company that recognizes that—to the point where they engage with one of the members on a career level—is going to be a far better company for it.

What do you so when you’re not involved in social media?

AH: My job is not really social media. It is really about running the Microsoft Technology Center so that we can work with our customers and help them envision solutions that meet their business needs.

I love my job and I put my heart into it. And when I am not having fun with my colleagues, partners, and customers… I am spending time with my family and enjoying this fabulous city we call home.

Thank you again, Adam, for agreeing to answer some questions for the ITKAN blog.

You’re welcome, Hsuan.

——

NEXT WEEK: An interview with a ITKAN member, Joseph Blasi

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