Many companies make philanthropy part of their business plan as a way to elevate their press coverage and corporate image. The public relations aspect of these charitable campaigns can be financially beneficial, as customers are usually more loyal to organizations that are actively involved in their communities. Philanthropic programs also tend to boost engagement and volunteerism among the employee ranks. Whether they step up to lead the campaigns or give some of their time to the effort, or simply feel better about working for a caring organization, it may increase the bonds they have with their employers.
While some companies make charitable giving a corporate event, how many of their executives give a significant amount of their own time and resources to those efforts as well? Among the CompTIA membership ranks, that number is likely significantly higher than average. Many volunteer their time to lead and drive initiatives within the CompTIA’s Communities and Councils. Others help develop training and education materials and serve as subject matter experts or speak on CompTIA’s behalf at industry events. They support the efforts of the association’s Creating IT Futures philanthropic program and inspire women and girls to explore careers in our industry through the Advancing Women in IT Community’s Dream IT initiative.
While each CompTIA member’s participation is greatly appreciated, few have been actively involved in as many of the association’s activities over the years as Lester Keizer. The Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas-based Business Continuity Technologies served a stint on the Board of Directors and has played an instrumental part in many community driven initiatives over the years. He is currently a member of the PAC (Partner Advisory Council), helping the group develop new solution provider business enablement tools and other resources to improve their long-term viability.
Giving Back to the IT Industry
To fully appreciate the impact on the IT channel of people like Lester Keizer, it helps to take a look at all the things they’ve been actively involved in over the years. In addition to fulfilling numerous board, community and council assignments, he is a continually enthusiastic supporter of CompTIA’s philanthropic efforts. The total number of hours involved in those activities is substantial, though, like most members, he prefers to stress the results and value derived from his participation than the associated costs to him, his family and his business.
Keizer recently spent a week at CompTIA headquarters designing the framework for the upcoming Cloud Trustmark with a number of other solution providers and vendor and distribution executives. A well-versed subject matter expert for cloud, security and a number of innovative services, he gives his time freely to ensure others have the resources they need to build successful businesses.
Keizer also supports the IT industry through his public advocacy efforts, at both a local at national level. “My participation in the annual TechAmerica DC Fly-In gives me a chance to get into the grassroots and to network with politicians and lobbyists on both sides of the aisle to make a difference in the technology sector,” Keizer said. “For example, we are very involved in the rural education space and school bandwidth — and the funding to provide it — is a big issue.”
As a Nevada resident, it’s a personal and meaningful project for Keizer.
“Our state ranks among the worst in the test scores and educational grades, with the lowest percentage of high school graduates in the country. Our kids have a disadvantage getting into higher education and close to 50 percent of those who do have to retake classes,” he said. “They are our future workforce and with the ever-increasing technology in business, we need to get these young people properly trained so they can find employment. The laws, initiatives and taxes our legislators pass will have a significant effect on their future.”
Strong Voice, Strong Channel
SMB solution providers general don’t have a strong national voice. “Collectively we do,” Keizer said. “A provider with three to five employees in North Dakota can really make a difference nationally by being involved with CompTIA. Moving from analog to a digital world isn’t easy, and making that transition has been very difficult for the channel.”
CompTIA offers a forum and the tools to create resources, he said, citing some upcoming financial benchmark and business transformation whitepapers.
“The PAC gives us a sounding board, where companies can get together with distributors and vendors and lay our swords at the door,” he said. “We focus on charting our own futures. Together we can be change agents and are currently developing creative, disruptive services that will lead the way for the IT industry.”
CompTIA involvement has personal business advantages as well. “It has helped stabilize and increase my business and gives me ideas for where to take our organization. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot more from membership than I put in,” he said. “When CompTIA brings together the great minds and ideas that help us solve various challenges, we all benefit from the results. Together we can bridge the gap between the traditional service model and the emerging new technologies. Moving into the digital world — Google, Amazon, Apple, etc. — won’t be easy, but CompTIA and its members are working hard to make it easier.”
Keizer is one of the many IT professionals who make CompTIA what it is: a community of caring individuals who give back to the industry. They create and lead channel enablement initiatives, provide business education and training, and take part in a host of other mission critical programs. He’s part of the group you’ll meet at CompTIA’s Annual Member Meeting, where the member-driven CompTIA Communities use AMM to advance specific technologies, vertical markets and business segments.
Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.