Category Archives: Consulting

What’s an ITKAN meeting like? – From an ITKAN member’s perspective

Many times, prospective candidates, service providers and employers ask me, “What are ITKAN meetings like? Are they formal? Laid-back?”. I can tell you that from the greenest rookie to the most grizzled veteran, ITKAN fits a need – they work on developing their skills, they meet…and even get a great opportunity. After attending these engaging meetings, we’ve really hit a groove with our Megatrends (see our previous blog post to find out more in 2013, a growing network with employers, entrepreneurs and the like, and we are constantly looking for opportunities for fellow members. Networking groups can be loose-ended or with strong ties to fellow colleagues, and ITKAN is definitely one of the best groups I’ve been involved with. I did not foresee that I would meet such a great bunch of folks who are dedicated to the the mantra of ITKAN, where we are building (and nearing) towards a goal of showcasing solid, passionate professionals that any company would be interested in hiring.

It’s the tall one, and we are on the second floor.

On arriving to ITKAN meetings, which are held at the Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago, I enter a work-space for us that  is a collaborative environment that provides access to innovative technologies and world-class expertise.  Take a peek here to see what the MTC is like, how it works and the space itself.  Usually, there is always a few ITKAN members that arrive early. We network, talk about work, and talk a little bit of play as well (gaming and the Chicago Blackhawks are the conversation du jour.) After our intros, ITKAN goes to work. We discuss IT in different sectors and formats, going from general info to the most granular info that Microsoft professionals give to us. We get out around 7, but there’s always a few folks who hang around to network, have a laugh and separate until next month. Adam Hecktman, director of the Microsoft Technology Center has a room set up for us, and Pat Maher, the director of ITKAN, starts our meetings. We introduce ourselves to the group and find out a bit about new members. I’ve been working with ITKAN for over 2 years now. I started using ITKAN as a basis to build a stronger personal brand for my career as well as an opportunity to see where information technology would go next.

Our gracious hosts, Microsoft and Microsoft Tech. Center in Chicago.

The location for ITKAN meetings is in the Aon Center, at Michigan and Randolph, and there are great transportation options via Metra & CTA to the Center. My personal favorite is driving as parking at Aon Center costs $6 after 4 PM. Not only is a great price, but it’s accessibility is great. Join us next time. 2nd Thursday of each month (July 11th is next), at the Aon. Email me if you have questions

Advertisement

ITKAN Chat – Interview with Kathie Topel

The information technology industry is comprised of a multitude of proficiencies, and “ITKAN’s Chats” will attempt to reach as many as possible to bring insight to its members, thereby finding their niche and taking another step towards the fulfillment of their mission.

In our last ITKAN Chat, we spoke to Brendan Ginty at Sonicwall about the IT security industry. Continuing our focus on ITKAN supporters, we chat with Kathie Topel, the managing director of IMPACTinsights, part of SPR Companies.

Kathie has led seminars and executive workshops that have fundamentally changed the way organizations operate and improved their performance and results. She created the POWERSHIP®model and wrote a book of the same name, based on her experience as an expert in IT-business alignment.

Now she is putting her formidable skills and knowledge to work for Impact Insights and for the many companies she works with. Also, she recently led the inaugural meeting of the ITKAN Visionary Innovation Team!

Hi Kathie, thanks for your time today. Can you tell us a little bit about IMPACTinsights and your book?

POWERSHIP® is a single source that outlines a complete corporate culture landscape or POWERSHIP Culturescape™ Environment.

IMPACTinsights works with CIOs to ensure that IT is at the Heart of Business Success.  We are IT Performance Consultants who build award-winning IT departments.  The POWERSHIP® book is used in our implementations as the model to optimize performance which results in highly engaged employees and greater contributions to big business goals including revenue, profitability, innovation,  customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction.

After reading about Impact Insights on your homepage, it seems that your company focuses on streamlining companies towards common goals. How often is corporate culture a roadblock towards streamlining a division and/or an organization?

Corporate Culture is frequently a roadblock for organizations.  IMPACTinsights works to make sure that everyone from the front line to the top line realizes they have a role in leadership and that everyone is accountable for bottom line business results no matter what role they are in.  We find that when individuals are engaged in their work and understand how their day to day role integrates with the strategic direction they can be upward of 40% more productive.

Part of ITKAN’s mission is to “Support the Aggressive Adoption of Deep Diversity”™”. Diversity is one of the hottest keywords in business today, and it goes hand in hand with corporate culture. What is your opinion on where people with disabilities fit here? 

Individuals with disabilities can be such key contributors in the workplace of today.  The way they view and understand concepts adds a dimension to the work place that can’t be overlooked.  I frequently see them being extremely focused, very consistent, constantly driven and key participants of innovation.

One perception that we concentrate on from participants during ITKAN Chat is what do they think of the future of IT as a whole. What do you think, Kathie?

“I believe you will see the role of IT across the board needing to be more strategic.” – Kathie Topel

I see the role of IT in the future continuing to evolve at a much more aggressive pace than ever before.  I believe you will see the role of IT across the board needing to be more strategic.  The leadership of IT will need to be more like the leadership of an entrepreneurial company and understand as much of how bottom line value is generated as they will need to understand technical concepts.

Kathie, we appreciate your time for this interview and your contribution to ITKAN. Any final thoughts?

Professionals with disabilities have so much to offer within the space of technology.  Keep up all of the great work in the area of Diversity and Inclusion.  I look forward to supporting ITKAN in way possible.

Thanks, Kathie!