- 2002 -
I am qualified to serve on the NPA Board of Directors based on my professional experience, technical expertise, communications skills, and non-profit organization experience.
I have been involved in networking since 1985. In that time span I have worked with virtually every operating system ranging from VAX/VMS, UNIX, NetWare/286, DECnet, and AppleTalk through modern UNIX implementations and Windows. I have experience with network technologies ranging from ARCnet to Gigabit Ethernet on the LAN side and X.25 to SONET on the WAN side. Throughout this long history in the networking arena I have succeeded based on my ability to rapidly analyze technologies and situations to resolve problems.
As a university faculty member teaching system and network administration, enterprise network management, and network design I have continued to refine my skills through research and consulting. I draw upon this extensive background daily to organize complex interconnected technical information in such a way that my students can quickly grasp the concepts and techniques required to implement and maintain complex information systems.
I have written three textbooks in the area of data communication and networking that are used from the community college to graduate school level. The process of teaching and writing about networking technology has allowed me to closely examine and understand all aspects of networking and more importantly the ways in which the sub-disciplines are related. My classes and books focus on technical theory, best practices, how to critically analyze new technologies, how to troubleshoot and maintain complex systems; all while ensuring that the technology is appropriate and fiscally sound for the business environment in which the technology operates. The last point is critical: all too often we get caught up in the technology and forget that it has to support the business mission of our organizations to be of use.
Being a member of the NPA Board of Directors requires an understanding of non-profit organizations and professional societies. I sit on the board of Family Services, a local non-profit organization and am involved with the Society of Information Technology Education; a professional society working toward the establishment of an accreditation for information technology programs at colleges and universities across the country. As such I understand the challenges associated with running a non-profit organization and with coming to consensus among a constituency of people with varied interests.
- What is your vision for the future of the Network Professional Association?
The stated mission of the NPA is to advance the Networking Industry towards a profession. To accomplish this mission the NPA must establish itself as the standard bearer for the discipline by setting the criteria by which a network professional is defined. To accomplish this goal the NPA must articulate a clear vision of the standards of the networking profession and provide a means for members to develop themselves to meet these standards.
Working with its members, industry leaders, and the academic community the NPA should define the standards of a network professional. These standards should include not only technical expertise criteria in a variety of areas and their interaction, but also an understanding of how IT and networking interact with the core business objectives of the organization along with a code of behavior and ethics.
Technical expertise is the cornerstone upon which a network professional builds their career. To be successful in this field you must be able to not only understand specific technologies but be able to rapidly grasp how these independent technologies interact and relate to each other. The standards should list areas in which a network professional should have knowledge.
Much has been written about the relationship of IT and business. There are those that believe that IT is the key to enhanced productivity and greater profitability for organizations and others that believe that IT is a sham that has sucked up precious capital resources with nothing to show for it. While the truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes it is the responsibility of a network professional to understand the business needs of their organization and recommend and apply technology in a manner than is fiscally sound and justifiable.
Another important area for the network professional is ethics. Well defined tenets of ethical behavior are critical to the evolution of any area of endeavor into a true profession. Given the access and control over sensitive date that system and network administrators have, trust is of critical value to a network professional. The NPA should work to establish its code of ethics as that of the discipline as a whole.
I envision the NPA creating a common body of knowledge that all network professionals should be expected to understand. This body of knowledge will encompass all of the areas defined in the standards: technology, best practices, IT/business relations, cost justification of projects, and ethics. Within that body of knowledge each person should have at least one area of technical expertise where they vastly exceed the basic requirement. All training materials produced should reference a portion of this body of knowledge to further entrench the standards. Eventually a professional certification could be developed as a means of acknowledging those individuals that meet the criteria of a network professional.
The creation of the standards is the NPA’s contribution to the discipline and will allow the organization to meet its goal of establish itself as the leading professional association of the network computing industry. By providing a means for members to further themselves and their careers by meeting these requirements the NPA can consistently return value to its members.
- How will you achieve this vision?
Working with its members, industry leaders, and the academic community the NPA should first define the standards of a network professional. Until these standards are developed the organization has no way of meeting its stated goals.
Once the standards have been defined the NPA should work on developing materials that provide the membership with the resources to expand their knowledge and abilities to meet the standard set for a network professional. These materials should be developed in such a manner that they can be packaged into both self-study content and workshops that can be delivered at sites across the country. In this manner the same effort can be used in multiple ways to further the mission of the organization as well as provide a means of earning potential income.
Collectively this is going to take some time to develop and implement. However, by choosing this path the NPA will establish itself as a force working to advance not only the careers of its members but of the profession itself.
- Will you add value to/work on some of the strategic initiatives NPA will have this next year, in particular:
- Roadshows - are you in an area where NPA will likely want to have events? What experience/resources/contacts can you bring to bear to help make them successful? For example, are you the type of person who has no problem calling up a school or company and getting space for free? How are your contacts with vendors and/or educational partners?
In my capacity as a university professor I work closely with colleagues from around the country to further the disciple of information technology in general and networking in particular. I routinely speak with employers who need to hire additional network professionals and further develop their existing employees. I have a history of working with networking vendors to provide hardware and software for use in our networking laboratories. Many of these vendors are not only interested in further their marketing efforts to the next generation of network professionals but are also interested in marketing to and supporting the current generation of professionals.
- Chapters - are you in an areas where NPA should have a chapter, ie. major metro area, good student chapter potential at nearby universities? What experience/resources/contacts can you bring to bear to help make a chapter successful?
Working with the Executive Director of the NPA we have recently worked out an approach to convert our student “connectivity club” into the pilot NPA student chapter. In speaking with colleagues from other institutions that have networking programs I think that there is a strong base for expansion of the NPA as the professional organization of choice to the next generation of networking professionals.
- Writing experience - with the success of the Herndon event and all the material NPA received from vendors, we can see NPA being able to build on a topic like Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery by becoming a resource for useful information, mined in some format that over time could be useful for students and IT people. Some people are good at interfacing with vendors to gather information and make connections about its usefulness to our target audiences. How do you fit in this role?
My career is based on my ability to learn, analyze, and teach technical materials. In addition to being an award winning teacher I have written three books and over a dozen papers on networking and related issues. In addition to my normal coursework I have consulted with Fortune 50 corporations and taught specialized courses that targeted at the specific needs of their employees.
- IT depts. are where a lot of potential members will be found. Do you understand how IT departments operate? Do you have experience either working with IT depts. or selling to them?
Throughout my career I have seen IT departments from many different sides. I have served as Director of Information Systems, a vendor, and a consultant on both technology and IT strategy. I also work closely with representatives from IT departments ranging from small business to Fortune 50 on determining what the educational requirements are for tomorrows IT leaders in order to build and maintain curriculum.