New IBM Champions Reflect on Their Journeys
February 26, 2020 Alex Woodie
IBM has rolled out its new list of Champions for Power, and on the list are eight men from the IBM i community who have been named Champions for the first time. Among the honorees is the Four Hundred Guru himself, Ted Holt.
Ted Holt: IT Jungle guru and senior software developer at Profound Logic
Holt’s day job is working as a senior software developer for Profound Logic. But at night he becomes the IT Jungle’s Guru, dispensing IBM i code and snippets of hard-won wisdom as a senior technical editor of The Four Hundred. He also tweets from @TedHolt00000.
Holt was kind enough to share with us some of his thoughts on being named an IBM Champion for Power for the first time.
“The first computer I learned to program was the System/3 Model 12,” Holt says. “That was 1981. I’ve since worked on S/34, S/36, S/38, AS/400, and its successors. A lot has changed since then. I joke that what I liked about IT when I was in my twenties was that it was constantly changing and there was always something new to learn, but now that I’m in my sixties, what I hate about IT is that it’s constantly changing and there’s always something new to learn.
“I’ve experienced an enormous amount of change, yet one thing has been consistent—a lot of good people have helped me,” he continues. “I have learned so much from so many people, and I attribute whatever success I’ve had to the fact that I didn’t have to figure everything out myself.
“I’ve been active in the IBM midrange world for a long time, writing articles and books, and speaking at conferences — all the while holding down a day job — and it’s been gratifying to know that I’ve been able to give something back to the community that has given so much to me,” Holt says. “The greatest thing about being honored as an IBM Champion is that it’s confirmation that I’ve made a contribution.”
Steven Wolk: chief technology officer at PC Richard & Son
Steven Wolk the CTO at P.C. Richard & Son, the large chain of private, family owned appliance, television, electronics, and mattress stores based on Long Island, New York.
“I never expected or aspired to champion a computing platform,” Wolk tells IT Jungle. “But as they say, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
Wolk was first introduced to the System/38 in 1986, and he followed its progression through AS/400 and ultimately to IBM i. As his career developed during those 34 years, his appreciation grew for what this platform represents to his company and his community.
“I’ve long been attending conferences such as COMMON and meetings of our local user group, LISUG,” he says. “But in the past decade, I began speaking at these events as well. I found giving back in this fashion to be incredibly rewarding, and has helped me learn and advance my career as well.”
Wolk decided to get even more involved, which meant volunteering. He’s a member of the Strategic Education Team for COMMON, as well as a subject matter expert. He’s on the board of directors for LUG as well as his local user group, LISUG. He also helps to mentor new speakers within the midrange community.
“I’ve found that these roles provide me with more of a voice to be able to effect change and share what I’ve learned,” he says. “Within my own company, we’ve begun hiring young developers and teaching them the IBM i. They recognize the productivity, reliability, scalability, and securability that many of us take for granted on the IBM i, and absolutely love it. They in return have been sharing the skills they already have with our experienced developers, making us all better and stronger together.”
Wolk says being named an IBM Champion is “a tremendous honor, as well as a validation of these ongoing efforts. It’s my hope that this only serves to amplify the message I’ve been working to deliver, and allows me to provide even more value back to my community.”
Wolk has a sign in his office that reads “Do not be afraid of change. Be afraid of not changing.” He takes that sign to heart in reflecting on his journey to becoming an IBM Champion. He also tweets from @SWolk.
“If becoming an IBM Champion helps me inspire even one more IBM i user to change, to use their platform in new and exciting ways, to begin to give back to the community, or to bring new, young people onto their teams, then it will have been worthwhile indeed,” he says.
Rudi Van Helvoirt: technical director at van Helvoirt Automatisering
Van Helvoirt works for Helvoirt Automatisering (HA!), which is an IBM i services provider based in The Netherlands. He is excited about being named an IBM Champion for Power.
“The title feels very good, I must say,” Van Helvoirt tells IT Jungle. “My area is IBM i and system management in particular. I have used the IBM i GUIs iNav in the past and Nav4i now on a daily basis. My goal is to modernize IBM i system management by leading by example and use the GUIs. Be it Nav4i, ACS, other than 5250 emulation and Administration Runtime Environment.”
Van Helvoirt is also a board member of Common Netherlands, and he’s also a member of the Common Europe Advisory Council (CEAC). He’s a frequent presenter at Common events in Europe and also a writer. IBM i is his exclusive focus. “All IBM i, I must admit I do not have much to contribute in other areas,” he says.
Dave Wiseman: vice president of solutions architecture at Connectria
Wiseman is a vice president of solutions architecture at Connectria, a provider of Power Systems hosting and a managed services provider for Power and X86 cloud resources. Wiseman has worked in IT for nearly 30 years, and helped to establish the IBM i hosting and cloud solutions at Connectria. His current responsibilities include architecting client cloud solutions and supporting pre-sales efforts. He is a member of several organizations supporting IBM i technologies and is also involved with AIX. He tweets from @dwisema84758865.
“Being recognized as an IBM Champion was truly an honor,” Wiseman tells IT Jungle. “It is awesome to be recognized as a leader on the platform and for all of the efforts I have put in to keep IBM Power and IBM i as a future computing platform.”
Horacio Benedicto: IT manager at Compañía de Seguros El Norte S.A.
Benedicto is the IT manager at Compañía de Seguros El Norte S.A., an insurance company based in San Francisco, Argentina. Benedicto has worked in the IT business for more than 25 years, and broke into the business as a COBOL programmer. Benedicto has worked at his current employer for nearly nine years, and tweets from @akashico.
Benedicto was selected to be an IBM Champion for the first time in 2019, which makes this his second time being honored. “IBM Champion is an excellent program from IBM,” he tells IT Jungle. “It generates strong emotions, and it makes me very happy to know that someone within IBM [is observing] our activity . . . what we do, where we participate, if we are involved, and our passion and our commitment to the program and to IBM’s tools.”
There are only 604 IBM Champions around the world, and Benedicto is one of them, for IBM i and Db2. “It is a great honor to belong to this select community of IBM Champions,” he says. “I have the honor of being the only one from Argentina in the last two years.”
Jeff Yanoviak: senior solutions architect at Sirius Computer Solutions
Yanoviak is a senior solutions architect with Sirius Computer Solutions in Houston, Texas, where he has worked for the past 16 years. He tweets from @JeffYanoviak (he has a Twitter account there, anyway).
Yanoviak is eager to make the most of his new position as an IBM Champion for IBM i, AIX, and Linux, and he’s looking forward to continue to help others work with the platform.
“I see this honor as recognition of my contributions to the Power community as well as a chance to network with other champions to help the community get the most out of their Power Systems,” he tells IT Jungle.
Mats Lidström: senior solutions architect at Apper Systems AB
Lidström is a senior solutions architect with Apper Systems AB, a Swedish consulting firm with expertise in IBM i and System z. Lidström has been working in IT for more than 25 years.
Michael Ryan: chief executive officer at Essist Omikron Group
Ryan is the CEO of Essist Omnikron Group, an IT services provider based in the UK. Essist is active in the M3 and Movex community, and provides remote monitoring of IBM i systems.
No information was provided for Pendse, except that Pendse is a Champion for Power with IBM i and AIX specialties, and that there’s Twitter account at @anantpendse
These eight new Champions for Power who have an IBM i by their name (including Benedicto, who is in his second year) join 37 existing IBM Champions for Power who are affiliated with the IBM i platform (among other platforms). The list of IBM i Champions for 2020, if there was one, would include the eight people listed above plus these individuals:
Alan Seiden; Jon Paris; Bart Grabowski; Birgitta Hauser; Pascal Polverini; Bastien Boudot de la Motte; Carol Woodbury; Charles Guarino; Christian Massé; Dave Waddell; Jesper Hemmet Omer; Jim Buck; Josh Hall; Kim Greene; Koen Decorte; Larry Bolhuis; Laura Ubelhor; Liam Allan; Michael Karasienski; Mike Pavlak; Nathanaël Bonnet; Niels Liisberg; Paul Tuohy; Pete Massiello; Richie Palma; Roberto De Pedrini; Robin Tatam; Scott Klement; Shirang “Ranga” Deshpande; Stephanie Rabbani; Steve Bradshaw; Steve Pitcher; Susan Gantner; Tom Huntington; Torbjorn Appehl; and Trevor Perry.
For more information on the current crop of IBM Champions and the IBM Champion Program see developer.ibm.com/champions/.