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Top tags: D&I  Diversity  Diversity & Inclusion  GDPR  IAMCP  IAMCP 25th Anniversary  Inclusion  Microsoft Inspire  Microsoft Partner  MIST  VFI 

What came first: Diversity or Inclusion? The answer depends on whom you ask.

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 12, 2019


Frank Valdivieso, DC Chapter President for the IAMCP (International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners) and chair of the IAMCP’s Americas Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee, has seen diversity and inclusion from two sides. Frank’s experience is both from the perspective of either being included or rejected based on the color of his skin, and from the standpoint of doing the right thing to include others.

By visual identification, Frank is a Black Hispanic, and thereby falls squarely into the category of “visual minority”. But that’s only if we’re categorizing people. And why are we?


What is D&I?

 Said Frank, “Diversity focuses on things that divide us – the things that make us different. Inclusion is about bringing people together; it provides us with opportunities to be more inclusive in how we sell and support our products, and offer better service to our customers.”

Having had negative experiences, Frank has a deep understanding of the impact of D&I and has built a successful company that actively embraces the practice – both internally and externally.

As President & CEO of Gryphon Consulting, a Largo, MD based MSP providing IT support to companies with less than 250 employees, Frank believes that D&I is a top-down initiative, and while Gryphon is a small company from an employee statistic standpoint, 50% of Gryphon’s employees are minorities. Plus, Gryphon’s customer-base is almost entirely comprised of women entrepreneurs, and the company’s suppliers are all either women- or minority-owned.


Making a Difference

D&I is not the only problem for today’s technology businesses; the lack of skilled talent presents an enormous hiring challenge.

Recognizing this issue through experience, Gryphon Consulting became one of the first supporting clients of the recently-established training program, Franklin Apprenticeships, a Maryland-based help-desk level apprenticeship course.

The progressive program offers hands-on skills-training to those for whom a 4-year college degree might not be an option, through a combination of in-class instruction and internship placements, and predominantly serves at-risk youth, and those who want to make a career change.

“This program has been very beneficial for Gryphon. Previously, post-hire, we found that a candidate’s resume did not necessarily match their skill-set. Through Franklin Apprenticeships, we are able to hire employees with the assurance that they have received adequate training and experience. Plus, we know that we are supporting an initiative that assists an underserved community,” said Frank.


Shaping Change

In addition to embracing progressive hiring practices, Frank Valdivieso is also a member of Voices for Innovation (VFI), a technology policy advocacy group. Sponsored by Microsoft, the organization is comprised of technology professionals who meet to discuss and advocate for issues that impact the IT industry, and support IT job growth.

For Frank Valdivieso, programs like the ones in which he is involved provide him with a way to give back to his community and drive polices and practices that improve people’s lives and strengthen organizational culture for the greater success of all.

 “D&I is all about learning – understanding what we can do better. The IAMCP creates a safe environment through the individual chapters to explore these topics. We can leverage this platform to educate our members so that they can go back to their organizations and champion D&I within their companies, leading to greater success for everyone – we all need the same chance to compete.” – Frank Valdivieso


So, what came first: Diversity or Inclusion?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. An organization can have diversity, but no inclusion. Or, it can have inclusion, without diversity. But when the company’s strategy is to make the two symbiotic, each works best when the other is in play, and can attract and retain great talent. What does your D&I playbook look like?

For more information on Gryphon Consulting visit

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A P2P Partnership Results in a Progressive, Award-Winning Solution for a Forward-Thinking University

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 12, 2019

The IAMCP is delighted to congratulation South Africa-based Mint Group on winning both the Worldwide and Gold EMEA awards in this year’s P2P (partner-to-partner) contest with an innovative AI (Artificial Intelligence) solution.

“Mint Group is proud to be recognized as the Worldwide and EMEA winner of the IAMCP P2P awards for 2019. We champion the IAMCP ethos in South Africa and across the African continent through valuable partnerships via joint solution implementations, best practices, learning and knowledge sharing. Mint believes in the strength of growing together in the partner ecosystem with the shared outcome of delivering value to our customers.” - Sugeshni Subroyen, Head of Marketing, Mint Group


The Challenge

When the University of Venda (Univen), a rural South African comprehensive university, located in Thohoyandou in the Limpopo province, was encountering low student participation and dwindling pass rates, the faculty knew that a solution was required – but what?

As an educational instituation that runs predominantly on grants for funding, and serves approximately 16,000 students, Univen needed to increase student success rates to maintain its reputation and secure future funding.

In addition, sometimes there were people on campus who did not belong there and the facility did not have the capacity to monitor activities, making student and staff safety a concern that had to be addressed.


A Success Trifecta

In a quest to solve the problem, Univen partnered with Mint Group, which created Intelligent Campus through the application of AI on the Azure platform, to address challenges and unlock opportunities for the institution. The partnership made Univen the first university in SA to pilot the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for access control and enable:

  • Strict student access control through facial recognition across the University
  • Student tracking and verification across the campus
  • Sentiment analysis within classrooms to correlate sentiment to student performance
  • Attendance tracking to correlate attendance numbers to student pass rates

To achieve the desired outcome, Mint Group required a strong partnership with a hardware provide and found this in Gijima, which could successfully install technology across the campus to cater for the Intelligent Campus vision and the Vision APP solutions to be implemented, at the same time taking all other infrastructure challenges into account (wheelchair access, speed bumps, security booms, dorm turnstiles, etc.).

Since the successful pilot program at Univen, the AI system is now being rolled out to the entire University as a first step towards digital transformation which will:

  • Enable facial recognition and access control of 16,000 students per day;
  • Monitor 72 classrooms with up to four cameras in each class scanning the faces once every minute for classroom attendance;
  • Serve as the basis for a future roadmap for advanced analytics such as predictive drop-out detection etc. which will further increase pass rates as well as Azure consumption; and,
  • Drop security incidences down to 0%.


The Results Are In!

 As 99% of Univen’s students study through the allocation of government grants, the allocation of funds can now be backed by data, and student performance can be monitored to ensure money is being spent on the correct students.

“Through the powerful capabilities of Azure, we empowered Univen to resolve the issue of safety, streamline staff productivity and student management, and address student performance through sentiment analysis and tracking with the Mint Vision App, a solution that will continuously drive transformation. Winning these awards is an important recognition of the transformation Mint Group is driving in SA’s education and health industries, and how we achieve that through partnership, said Carel Du Toit, CEO, Mint Group.

Other universities are following suit and Mint has been in negotiations with 6 other universities and has secured a pilot project with one institution which will commence in Q1 FY20.


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4 top tips for smarter marketing for Microsoft partners

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How to utilize resources to optimize marketing budget and results

By Karl Joseph Ufert

Being both in the advertising industry and the IAMCP, I’ve seen it time and again – to get their message out companies get caught up in costly staffing or, even worse, don’t have the internal resources to market effectively and end up doing little... or nothing at all.

After over 20 years of marketing experience as a president, co-founder and partner at Mitra Creative, and many years working with the IAMCP and Microsoft partners, I got to understand the needs and challenges of our community in-depth.

And the fact is the partner community is not rolling in money, and the models that they have relied on for co-brand dollars are changing, in terms of how Microsoft allocates money – funds are limited today, so partners have to market smarter.


No.1 advice: Make your website an employee

Yes, really.

For SMBs (small-medium businesses), most marketing is digital, due to the prohibitive costs of mass marketing tactics, and a key component is the company website.

But the cost of hiring dedicated talent to plan and execute a marketing strategy and manage a website can run a company well into 6-figures annually. Plus, there’s the overhead cost of providing office space and equipment for those employees, which is another large budget line.

Here are my 4 top tips on how to utilize resources to optimize budget and results for our members.


1.    Build a professional website

It may sound trite, but let’s face it: your website is the face of your company, and the first impression that prospects will receive. Likely, no-one is going to come to your office, meet your charming receptionist, see your cool office space, and ask to see the CEO, ready to buy.

Rather, they will follow you online to determine whether or not you can solve their pain-points before contacting you for a discussion about their particular needs. And they won’t call you from receiving your business card – they’ll look at your website first.

That’s why your website needs to be professionally designed, responsive and search engine-friendly, so that it meets Googles complex requirements and, thus, people can find you. Plus, you need to be ever-present with information that resonates with your visitors. If you’re not, your website might be a key component of marketing strategy that you’re missing.

Once you have your website, you turn it into your #1 employee and make it work for you. Invest in it, just as you would with a staff member through training, conferences, desk space, etc. Allocating funds to your website is effective – and highly measurable.


2.     Create interesting and relevant content

Many companies rely on internal teams to drive social and on-website content and they often only use automated tools to distribute it, with disappointing results.

The key is to find the right mix of platforms for talking to your audience, then feed them regularly to keep dialogue and communication alive – even if its just curated content. No matter how often they post, companies are not going to build a brand on Instagram alone. Or Facebook for that matter.

You can also curate content and personalize it with a message – a concierge approach wherein you post an article that you found highly relevant and interesting and include customer key words and hashtags in the post.

Important note: when you curate, don’t use automation – the result will be that you’re just promoting the company whose article you’re sharing.

Ideally, you would develop a suite of digital media marketing or social marketing that addresses your:

  • Prospects;
  • Customers; and,
  • Professional Partner Community

Each group will, of course, receive different messaging, which is relevant to them respectively, and the timing and frequency of communications will be different for each segment too.

Of course, it’s important that content is interesting and relevant to your audience, well-written and well-timed. If writing isn’t your forte – or you simply don’t have time – external resources can help you put your best content foot forward, and save you time and money.


3.    Test. Measure. Test again.

The world is constantly changing. And that means the information to which people respond is in constant flux too.

That’s why measurement is so important: so that you can see what worked and what didn’t, and avoid throwing good money at bad ideas.

It’s important to take the convergence of digital communication across available platforms and not only judge your marketing spend, but make the spend as effective as it can be. It’s not about likes and shares – it’s about ROI, so we need to think in dollars and cents.


4.     Hire a pro

If that all sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. And, chances are, you’re an expert in your own field, not in the field of marketing. So often we see small business owners struggling to master tactics that aren’t in their skill set – and that just diverts their energy from where it’s best spent.

Which is partly why companies hire outside resources to help them with their marketing strategy and execution. They also do it because it’s fiscally prudent – it costs less to hire an expert to do the job right, than to invest in year-round, internal resources that might require training and support. Plus, when an expert develops your materials, you know that they will hit their mark.


About Karl and Mitra Creative

Karl’s most recent role with the IAMCP was on the sponsorship initiative for Microsoft Inspire 2019 (International and Americas). He also worked on the sponsor-related core social media marketing last year, and developed the first microsite for Inspire. Karl manages social media for the New Jersey IAMCP chapter, and is the social chair on the board. He also co-manages the Microsoft Marketing Round Table Group with Eric Rabinowitz (of Nurture Marketing) and is a member of the New York Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Mitra Creative, Inc., founded in 2005 by Karl Joseph Ufert and Vincent Wang, is a privately held company providing marketing, communication, brand and interactive/print design consulting services to mid-sized technology, media, entertainment and public sector enterprises in the U.S., Asia and other parts of the globe. The company is currently led by Karl Ufert, Ifan Chang, Jay Huang and Frank Louvis.

Mitra Creative’s offices — including its strategic consulting, design and development/technology teams — are based in New York City (Manhattan).

Want more tips from Karl Ufert?

You can learn more about Karl and read his recent blog posts here, or follow him on Twitter so that you never miss a tip:  Follow @KarlUfertMitra

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IAMCP made some noise at Inspire – and we got noticed!

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 26, 2019


With Microsoft Inspire 2019 now behind us, it seems that the one thing everyone agrees upon is that the energy was high and the week flew by!



And in our 25th Anniversary year, we had lots to share and attracted much attention. Here are some of the highlights, along with a special feature spotlight on our D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) committee:

  • Our 25th Anniversary Party, which totally rocked the conference and attracted over 600 guests – 200 more than expected – to help us celebrate!
  • A personal visit to the Americas Board Meeting from Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner. Gavriella wanted to personally share Microsoft’s decision to reverse its position on the topic of IUR (Internal Use Rights) – a collective win for Microsoft, IAMCP, and all our members and partners around the globe.
  • A big moment when David Willis, Vice President, US Dynamics – Microsoft, opened the US General sessions congratulating the IAMCP on its 25th Anniversary, and more.


Many new IAMCP members during the conference, from US, South Africa, Canada, India, Ghana, Cyprus/Lebanon/Malta, China, BeLux, Austria, and UK.


The announcement of the launch of a new chapter in Greater China Region – a country-first for the IAMCP! You can read the full press release here.

 An eloquent message of 25th Anniversary congratulations from Brad Smith, President of Microsoft Corporation, encapsulating how IAMCP has effected change in the last 25 years and commenting on what the next quarter-century might bring. You can view it here.

And, a very busy Petey, who even had a photo op with Gavriella Schuster!

Prometheus Awards – Celebrating those who help make our successes possible

The Prometheus Awards provide an opportunity for Partners to recognize the Microsoft staff that work with them on a day-to-day basis. Partners have an opportunity to vote for a member of staff who has provided an outstanding level of service to the Partner and has shown an exceptional level of commitment. A huge thank you and congratulations to this year’s winners for all you do in support of IAMCP Partners!


Diversity & Inclusion in the Inspire’s Spotlight

With Diversity and Inclusion an important strategic mandate for the IAMCP, our D&I committee was very much in the limelight at Inspire 2019, and the significance of this topic was a key theme of the entire conference. From Satya Nadella mentioning it in his keynote address, to its noticeable presence in every event, D&I was evident throughout the week.

“There was so much to learn with an incredible number of sessions and events on Diversity and Inclusion, not to mention the huge area in the Hub dedicated to it. Also, thoughtful details were built into the event itself, such as accessibility, which had been given so much more thought than in previous years. There were many more options for special diets, prayer spaces, areas for mothers, and the celebration venue ensuring wheelchairs could be used easily.“  – Sarika Malhotra, IAMCP D&I International Chair

At the WIT Luncheon, Satya Nadella and Gavriella Schuster engaged in a fireside chat on Inclusion, where they spoke about how diversity and inclusivity aren’t just nice to haves—they are key for high-performing teams, innovation and business success and also addressed the importance of women and other diverse candidates in the workplace.

For the IAMCP D&I Committee, the highlight was our Chair, Sarika Malhotra, being invited to  join the WIT Luncheon Panel, together with MSFTs Chief Diversity Officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre and Coco Brown of The WIT Network.

The panel topic was the “Case for Inclusion“, and was moderated by Christine Bongard, President, TWN. Panelists were asked to address what inclusion meant to them, and to cite both challenges and successes that they had encountered in their work environment.

The panel discussed how companies that emphasize inclusion and diversity gain increased innovation and better performance within their organizations. Three key take-aways from the discussion:

  • Diverse candidates represent our society and are also a very important part of economic potential.
  • Heterogeneity has been shown to greatly increase the innovative prospects of teams. With more effective teams and greater potential for innovation comes better business performance.
  • Employers who have a diverse workforce attract diverse and high performing talent, and are often in a better position to keep and develop their workforce, as employee morale is often higher.

The panel also acknowledged the importance of not focusing solely on diversity. Inclusion is a crucial business imperative, because when an organization embraces diversity, but doesn't have an inclusive culture, diversity does not bring any benefit.

It’s a Wrap!

By all accounts, Microsoft Inspire 2019 was a huge success and enjoyed by all our members in attendance. Our very own Munesh Jadoun, CEO of ZNet Technologies, member of the IAMCP Delhi, India chapter, and a Global Marcomm Committee team member, shared his experience with us; we couldn’t have said it better:

“As I had anticipated, Microsoft Inspire 2019 was a grandiose event again this year, made all the more special with the celebration of IAMCP'S 25th anniversary. Microsoft also made a special mention of this!

The 5 days passed in the blink of an eye. It was an absolute delight to meet Microsoft partners from across the globe. Inspire provided me with unparalleled networking opportunities and some great learning experiences.

The IAMCP booth was one of the most frequented, and featured a number of knowledge-sharing sessions from different influencers. Satya Nadella's keynote was very compelling, as was Gavriella Schuster's. In all, meeting so many Microsoft personnel and attending executive round tables and regional networking sessions left an everlasting impression on me.

It was a delightful experience and I certainly look forward to being there in 2020!”

And in closing, a special message from our International IAMCP Inspire Chair, Americas Secretary and Prometheus Award Winner, Debra Pfundstein, who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive and memorable Inspire experience for all our members:

“As 2019 IAMCP@Inspire Chair, it was my pleasure to help the IAMCP Celebrate our 25th Anniversary, working closely with Microsoft and many IAMCP member volunteers who dedicated their time to deliver a wonderful experience for all of us at Inspire. I can’t thank all our volunteers enough, for without their dedication to our community, Inspire simply wouldn’t be the same. As we dig into the plans for IAMCP@Inspire2020, please let us know if you’d like to join the team that helps build the experience for IAMCP@Inspire; we can be reached at

I look forward to seeing everyone next year at Inspire2020. In the meantime, please keep celebrating our 25 Years of Partnerships!”

Please watch for upcoming announcements from Microsoft regarding Inspire 2020. The timeline has been pushed back a week to allow for Microsoft to release their FY2020 earnings, enabling them to discuss their financial results and performance to the partner, and allow for more FY2021 goals and targets to be shared.

Missed any of the Inspire sessions? It’s not too late – visit the Microsoft Inspire website to watch them all and ensure you don’t miss any valuable tips!

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IAMCP’s Gandalf and Forefather: We’ve Come a Long Way!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 2, 2019


The IAMCP celebrates its 25th Anniversary and takes a walk down memory lane with founding father, Bob Marsh


Two people looking at the camera Description automatically generatedWhether you’ve been an IAMCP member for the long-haul, or are a recent addition to the IAMCP family, you know that you’re part of a powerful organization that is present in more than 40 countries and gives you access to over 2000 Microsoft partners around the globe, with whom you can collaborate to serve your customers and grow your business.

But it wasn’t always like that. From being barely-known to becoming a major Microsoft ally, the IAMCP has earned its stripes, mostly through the dedication of its founders to the partnership vision they created.

We caught up with one of our greatest supporters and forefathers, Bob Marsh, to hear his perspective on the early years.


A little background:

Once upon a time, Microsoft was just one of many technology providers and had enormous competition in the marketplace.

So, in 1994, when Sam Jadallah, Microsoft Corporate Vice President from 1987 and 1999, wanted to impose certification on partners to allow them to use the Microsoft name, there was significant push-back. After all, who was Microsoft? Move forward 25 years, and Microsoft is a household name, with a roster of successful partners around the globe!


Bob Marsh helped make that happen.

Our beloved Bob Marsh fell into the IAMCP relationship quite by accident. Hired by Microsoft to get teams ready for product launches 6 – 9 months ahead of the official launch, so that partners were ready and informed about product capabilities, was Bob’s key role.


But, one pivotal afternoon in the early 2000s, Bob’s manager, Raul Bandeira, asked him to facilitate a dinner meeting with a group of IAMCP partners in Redmond, VA, because his colleague had a conflicting engagement.

And Bob just listened. He heard, and saw, the IAMCP vision, and asked to be assigned to manage the relationship from the Microsoft perspective.


Microsoft loves feedback. And Microsoft listened.

Under Bob’s leadership, the the IAMCP worldwide board came into Redmond on a quarterly basis, and Microsoft collaborated by bringing in the product team in to present forthcoming products.


This gave the board the feeling that they were part of an inner circle and could return to their respective countries and ready their local members in advance of any launch.


The Secret Society

A self-proclaimed “bad boy”, Bob acknowledged that all of this was done without any official authorization – Microsoft didn’t really believe in the IAMCP channel at that time.

This “underground network” gave the IAMCP members, worldwide, a leg-up and advance notice as to what would be happening in the channel in the coming year.

Some key accomplishments:

  • With a quiet nod from management, Bob initiated the “Registered Partner Program” which featured the key offering of a Microsoft Action Pack Subscription, where a Registered Partner could get around $30,000 worth of MS software licenses for internal use and customer demo use for just $195 per year, as a subscription. This was coupled with local quarterly briefings covering technical and marketing topics to help enable local partner success. These sessions were provided worldwide in 26 languages. Bob added the first Microsoft Hands-On Labs in 1999 to support the launch of Windows 2000 Server, replacing Windows NT Server.
  • Within a couple of years, the IAMCP had restructured to map Microsoft’s model, and had an international Board of Directors, Regional Boards, National Boards, and local chapters with Boards acting locally. This gave each level of Microsoft’s sales & marketing organization a peer-level with whom to partner within the IAMCP.
  • Then the impossible happened: the IAMCP leadership made it to the big stage at Microsoft’s Big Tent Event for partners, known over the years as Microsoft Fusion, Worldwide Partner Conference, and now, Inspire.

"It was truly inspiring to see Per Werngren, then IAMCP WW President, on the Big Stage. Within Microsoft, it was a serious milestone in your career to ever make it to the Big Stage. For me, it A close up of a person wearing glasses Description automatically generatedwas a real milestone to see an organization I had helped strategize and grow make it to the Big Stage.“ – Bob Marsh



Fun fact about Bob Marsh: Bob’s IAMCP name is Gandalf. Characterized in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it’s meaning is of Norse origin and implies “wand elf” or “wizard”, and Bob Marsh has certainly been a wizard for the IAMCP.


Thank you, Bob, for all your endeavors in helping the IAMCP become what it is today, and HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY!



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Have you seen Petey, the IAMCP Gnome?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Petey is packed and ready, passport in hand, and eager to travel the globe!

And he’s been busy; in just a few months, Petey has covered a lot of ground. Here’s a quick peek at his most recent travel destinations:

  • February – Boston, MA Chapter Meeting
  • April – Virtual Chapter Meeting
  • April – Las Vegas - to get a sneak peak of our 25th Anniversary Party Venue
  • May – EMEA AI Event – Madrid Spain
  • June – Long Island Chapter Meeting
  • June – New York City Chapter Meeting
  • June – Boston Chapter Meeting – 25th Anniversary Chapter Celebration and Boston Chapter D&I Launch

Plus, he traveled with Tyler Bowman from Velosio on a trip that started in Long Island, went to New York city and ended in Boston! He loves our sponsors too!

Where next? Well that’s where you come in. All you have to do is request a Chapter visit and Petey will be happy to oblige.

And, of course, he’ll be at Microsoft Inspire, as well as the SoCal 10th Anniversary Party in October!

Petey is a pretty fun guy to have around – and he can help you get your chapter featured in a forthcoming newsletter.

He’s willing to travel the globe, so invite him for a visit and get to know him better!

You can follow Petey on Twitter @IAMCPGnome. He has “likes” on Twitter from Tracey Pretorius, Katie Quigley, Toby Richards, and other MS staff, as well as interactions with IAMCP Members and chapters.


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From The WIT Network: in between MS cloud, new communities, events, and virtual mentor circles

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 2, 2019


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Lots of news coming from the WIT Network! For one, three of its members have been selected for the Women in Cloud (WIC) Microsoft Cloud Accelerator 2.0 Cohort.

The Accelerator provides women-led cloud start-ups with access to Microsoft technology tools, mentorship from executives, networking opportunities and more, and only twelve companies were selected for this prestigious program.

Here are the three nominees from WIT and what they said about their companies:

Gail Mercer-Mackay, Mercer-Mackay Solutions (and Board Member of The WIT Network)

“The solution we are building is a marketing content and campaign management solution specifically for the technology industry (i.e. Microsoft partners).”

Sarah Haggard, Tribute (and Partner to The WIT Network)

“Tribute is a modern mentorship app for the workplace that connects employees through shared life experiences and stories.”

Madinah Ali, Safe PC Cloud (and The WIT Network Atlanta community lead)

“Safe PC Cloud's vision is to be the leading IT solution and Managed Service Provider (MSP) in the world when it comes to providing the ultimate customer experience.”

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New: The WIT Network Central Canada

On June 13th, with a skyline view from the Ernst & Young venue, The WIT Network Central Canada (GTA) kicked-off!

The Central Canada community co-chairs, Joanne Shields and Nympha Lee, held a pre-Raptors soirée Women in Tech of all Ages, at all Stages of Their Career.

The WIT Network COO Corinne Sharp and WIT Canada Country Lead, Lidia Feraco, introduced the evening’s inspirational speakers - Fawn Annan, Gail Mercer-MacKay and Stefania Villeneuve. 

With the event sponsor, Checkpoint, and over 200 members, The WIT Network Toronto community is off to a terrific start!

Learning together: The WIT Network Columbia & IAMCP Columbia

On May 28th, The WIT Network Columbia community was invited to an event with IAMCP Columbia at Visión Software. The training examined frequent errors made in business relationships and the importance of empowering women into more leadership roles.

"We are happy to contribute our thoughts on the transformation of companies to being more inclusive," says Claudia Gomez, The WIT Network Colombia community lead.

The WIT Network Virtual Mentor Circles

The WIT Network is busy with setting up virtual mentorship circles that will focus on topics supporting:

  • Development: Help women to develop and advance their careers in the industry.
  • Retention: Provide needed support to help women stay in the field when they are facing the difficult challenges inherent     in the industry.
  • Build: Help women in the network meet others, build business opportunities and connections and grow the ecosystem.

Visit the WIT Network’s website to learn more and either sign up to be a mentor or to be mentored.

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From Wheelchair To Walking… To Living His Dream

Posted By By Aileen Provan, Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The remarkable story of a man’s recovery and the company who helped him get there.



If you’re a parent, you can probably relate to the chaos of life with a busy job, a commute and several young children, each requiring transportation to their various extra-curricular activities.

Add to that the challenge of being a part-time single parent, sharing custody with an ex-spouse. A hectic schedule, to say the least.

So, imagine yourself at the end of one such day, electing to take your children to a restaurant so that you can feed them more quickly, then having the unthinkable happen. A stroke.

That’s exactly what happened to young father, Francisco Gonzalez. During a restaurant dinner with his young children, he suddenly started to lose control of his right side and fell over in his chair, diners all around watching him and wondering what was happening.

Although he didn’t know it in that moment, Francisco was having a stroke that would prove to be debilitating - right in front of his children.

The beginning of a nightmare

That was just the start of Francisco’s nightmare. He recanted his experience in the hospital, aware of the emergency team working frenetically around him and thinking that his time was up.

“I told myself to just take a breath. And then another, and another. I kept going and today I’m still breathing!” said Francisco.

But, when he awakened in the hospital, Francisco had lost the use of his entire right side and had suffered damage to his speech, making communication almost impossible.

As a freelance programmer, Francisco’s future looked dim.

And things were about to get worse

The need to work to support his young children fueled Francisco’s fierce battle for recovery, living in a wheelchair and working diligently every day to recover mobility and speech, and enduring grueling physiotherapy treatments, with the hope of eventually returning to work.

And recover he did. If you were to talk to Francisco today, you wouldn’t have any idea that he’d had a stroke.

Feeling ready to enter the workforce again, Francisco started to contact recruiters for employment opportunities. And things seemed to be going well - until he mentioned his stroke. Imagine his humiliation, thinking that he had a chance at a job – a chance to support his family – only to receive no further communication or response to his follow-up efforts.

“I was afraid,” said Francisco. “I didn’t know if I would ever work again, or how I would support my children. Ever since I first touched a computer, I knew that I wanted to be a programmer. In just one year, with my divorce and then the stroke, I felt that I my life had been turned upside down; I had lost everything and I was losing hope.”

An angel in corporate clothing

It’s been said that angels appear in many forms. For Francisco, his appeared as a gift from his past.

In a spur of inspiration, he reached out to the company for which he had worked as a freelancer, Barcelona-based TOKIOTA, to discuss the possibility of a full-time role with the organization. Always pleased with the quality of his work, the principals agreed to talk to Francisco and considered a lighter role for him, such as testing. They tested him to ensure that he could achieve the required objectives – and his results were perfect. Francisco demonstrated that he still had excellent software development abilities and TOKIOTA welcomed him back in a full-time capacity.

“Paco, as he’s known to us at TOKIOTA, has been a colleague and friend for many years. We are a family at TOKIOTA, and we were all affected by what happened to him, so it wasn’t really a question of whether or not we should help, but how we could help him. Welcoming Paco back was a good decision for all of us, and we’re happy to have him as part of our team again. TOKIOTA didn’t have a particular diversity and inclusion policy before this situation occurred; it was just a part of how we operated naturally, which is a reflection of our inclusive culture.” - Toni Alarcón

Although Francisco has not recovered the use of his right hand, he can still code with his left, making it possible for him to continue the pursuit of his passion, utilize his skills, and make a decent living.

“I can’t believe what TOKIOTA has done for me. I am living my dream, doing what I love, and I can support my family again. Thank you, Toni Alarcón, Diego López-Pajares and my whole TOKIOTA family – you have made me whole again! And for anyone in a situation like mine, I have only one message: never, never give up. Never.  – Francisco Gonzalez

What does “Diversity and Inclusion” really mean?

“We are all different and, to us, that means opportunity. The chance to share and learn from different perspectives, to see things differently, and to grow together, makes us much more effective as a collective group. We can all benefit from embracing others, both in our personal and professional lives, and I encourage other companies facing situations such as this one to open their minds, eyes, and hearts to the scope of opportunity for all,” said Toni Alarcón.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Francisco’s inspiring story! How are you embracing diversity and inclusion in your organization? The IAMCP would love to share your story – you can submit your D & I experience to:


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10 Tips on How to Benefit From Social Media at Inspire 2019

Posted By By Jon Rivers, Tuesday, July 2, 2019


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You may or may not be a social media butterfly but, to many, networking at a conference where there are thousands of attendees can be overwhelming. Using social networks successfully during conferences like Microsoft Inspire can help you connect with other people. Here are 10 tips that will help you be successful with social media during Inspire.

1.     Build an online presence. While you’re posting during the conference, make sure you're including the hashtag #MSInspire, as this will allow you to enhance your online network

2.     Meet new people. Did you catch a tweet from a like-minded attendee? Then message them and plan to connect at one of the meeting places throughout the conference.

3.     Trade Contact Information. Instead of worrying about business cards, make sure to have the LinkedIn Mobile App installed so that you can take advantage of the “share contact” feature. To connect, tap on the three dots at the top of the screen to the right of the search entry, then either one of you can share your code, while the other does the scan function. Now, if there is a bigger group, you can use the “Find Nearby” option by clicking the “People” option at the bottom of the screen and then clicking the “Find Nearby” button which will then list everyone who is nearby. This option uses your device’s Bluetooth to help with the connection.

4.     Connect with speakers. Was there a speaker that you liked? Connect with them on social media, as that will allow you to set up a simple channel to communicate and listen to what they have to say.

5.     Keep learning and posting. If you don’t think your skills are up to par on social media, watch what others are doing - but don’t stop posting yourself. Remember to use the hashtag #MSInspire when posting.

6.     Different view. Hey, you can’t be everywhere, and even when you are, it’s hard to consume all the fantastic content that is being delivered. I find it fascinating to watch and listen to what others have to say through their social feeds. Personally, I like to utilize tools like Tweetdeck to set up channels for topics I want to listen to.

7.     Stay relevant. I know it might seem tough to post and learn at the same time, but I always find it a great way to help with my note-taking.

8.     Share information. Looking for the best place to eat in Las Vegas? Chances are, someone has already been there and has tweeted about it.

9.     Stand out from the crowd. As Inspire is combined with Microsoft Ready this year, an estimated 40,000 people are attending, so social media gives you quick access to the ones who are utilizing it, as well as the people who are not participating.

10.  Have fun. We are all utilizing social media in a business environment, but it doesn’t mean we can’t sprinkle a little fun and personality into our posts as well. So be sure to have some fun along the way.

Make sure to follow me @jon_rivers and the IAMCP during the conference as we will be sharing a lot of valuable information on our social channels.

Drop us a note and let us know how your social media experience went at the conference.


About the Author

Jon Rivers is an acclaimed expert within the Microsoft social community for his leadership in helping partners develop their social brands and strategies.

Jon is the president of Marketing Monarchs, which looks to overcome partners digital marketing challenges by leveraging the power of social platforms, maximizing their social footprint, and ultimately driving more leads.

Jon has been tapped as a speaker at many Microsoft-focused events and has been a Social Media Ambassador for conferences like Microsoft Inspire.

He also serves on various boards including the IAMCP; IAMCP US MarCom Chair, Tampa Chapter President, Directions NA Board of Advisors, CMA

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D&I: Unconscious Bias - how to recognize it and make changes to counter it – and a new Advisory Board

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A close up of a logo Description automatically generatedDid you know that we are all biased? Even when we think we’re being objective, we all have unconscious biases, which impact how we see and interact with others — it's our brains' way of dealing with an overload of information.

Brain researchers estimate the human mind takes in 11 million pieces of information per second through our senses, meaning that much of the information we process is unconscious.

That’s why D&I is pleased to bring a Microsoft developed training programme on ‘Unconscious Bias’ to IAMCP members. This course will help deepen our understanding of unconscious biases, how they influence behavior, and how they impact us all. We will also learn numerous actions we can take to help counter bias in our work environment.

The course begins with a brief introduction to unconscious bias, followed by scenarios that will help you to explore bias and what you can do about it through video scenarios, interactive exercises and opportunities for reflection.

This training is offered free of charge and you can take it here.

And just one quick favor: once you’ve completed the training, please share your feedback at this link.

Thank you for your participation and commitment to a culture of Diversity and Inclusion!

NEW: The D&I Advisory Board

The D&I Advisory board is a newly developed part of the D&I committee, and is comprised of D&I Practice Leaders who will complement what the IAMCP leadership has in enthusiasm and drive with their knowledge and experience.

 How this group will help us strengthen the D&I commitment:

  • Brainstorming on how we can make an impact on our partner communities and roll out programs for them to use
  • Sharing their internal policies, and their unique perspectives and experiences from applying them in the workplace

One of the key initiatives of this board is to help create the D&I playbook for our members to use as motivation and guidance for setting up their D&I practices.

The D&I Adv board has two members on board and we will continue to grow this team of experts. Please welcome Estelle Jackson from Poly, and Pam Cory from BitTitan:

Estelle Jackson - At Poly, Estelle is responsible for fostering and nurturing a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility and fairness, where all voices are heard, respected and valued. The philosophy Estelle brings to Poly is to embrace all perspectives, honour all differences, and ensure all employees have equal access to opportunities that contribute to their full potential and encourage retention of their skills and perspective. 
Estelle supports 68 countries across the globe in their Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging efforts - both driving change locally and enabling the business to be a catalyst for change globally. Poly owns its data and uses it to be creative in its approaches to recruiting, retaining, motivating and engaging with employees.

Pam Cory - Vice President of Global Marketing at BitTitan, Pam has 15+ years’ executive experience developing global go-to-market and digital excellence for technology companies. She served on committees for Women in Tech at DellEMC and is involved in local meet-ups; serves on the board of HeyMentor, a non-profit organization helping low income students access college education; and is a mentor at Seattle University for international MBA students.


Inspiring examples

 This month we are presenting several inspiring examples of companies that stand out as truly inclusive organizations: Columbus UK, Omni, and TOKIOTA.


Read their stories and get inspired!


 [IV1]Needs hyperlinks to published stories

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