This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Barry Sellers: Distinguished Fellow, International Technology and Professionalism Top-Authority, Chair CNP Council, Chief Judge International Awards for Professionalism, Executive Board Director and Vice-Chairman NPA.

Enjoy,
Stephen Ibaraki

Barry SellersBarry Sellers has served as a member of the NPA Board of Directors for 9 years for the Network Professional Association (NPA) and most recently as Treasurer/CFO. During his tenure, he has championed, revamped, documented and implemented the NPA Certified Network Professional Certification and is currently working on the Associate Certified Network Professional Certification that focuses on professionalism and ethics, which will be a requirement for the Certified Network Professional Certification. He has held all of the officer positions on the Board of Directors including Chairman over that time. Prior to his time on the Board of Directors, he was the founder and president of the Shreveport Chapter of the Network Professional Association (1993 -1995). He served as the head judge for the Network Professional Association Awards for Professionalism (2002 - 2008). He was awarded the Distinguished Fellow of the Network Professional Association (DFNPA) in 2005.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:43:
Barry comments on what triggered his initial interest in technology.

:01:03:
Can you describe your current job roles and do you have any lessons you wish to share?
"....My current job role is an infrastructure architect for a Fortune 500 financial institution....Some of the key lessons I've learned over the years....Never stop learning....Soft skills such as learning how to do presentations to different types of audiences....How to negotiate and how to influence are also excellent skills to have.....Breadth of knowledge is better than deep knowledge in a single area...."

:03:21:
What were the catalysts to your involvement with IT groups?
"....Wanting to find other people who shared the same interests as I did and a place where we could share problems, solutions and experiences...."

:03:42:
Can you go into more detail about your contributions to IT communities?
"....I always felt that we as an IT community should give back to the community as a whole so I do a lot of pro bono work in places like schools, churches and clubs (such as the YMCA), with fellow members of our local IT community. The work usually involves finding new equipment, troubleshooting, helping with upgrades and doing support work...."

:05:00:
Barry is one of the longest standing members of the NPA holding every position within the organization and he provides information on its history and his role in it.

:06:09:
You talked about the Certified Network Professional (CNP) designation, could you expand on that? What are your views on professionalism?
"....The CNP is the first attempt (I'm aware of) to get an industry-neutral certification. You must have at least 2 different kinds of certifications. We have a very strong position on professionalism. We have an ethics document that everyone must sign when they join the CNP. You also must have a minimum of three years experience....."

:08:22:
You are the Chair of the CNP Council. Can you describe the CNP and its value?
"....The CNP as a certification gives the employer or potential client the knowledge and security that you understand the basics of the vender certifications you have, you have experience, you have a strong belief in ethics and a quest for continuing education...."

:09:02:
You are the Chief Judge for the Awards for Professionalism, the global industry's only awards of this kind. Can you profile the history of the awards, the partners and the next award cycle?
"....The Awards for Professionalism was started because there was nothing out there that recognized people for doing amazing things in the industry. These global annual awards are held in conjunction with the NetWorld Interop conference and have had various partners over time. Some of our partners include Network Computing, Pearson Publishing, Microsoft...."

:10:26:
What is the value in working with professional organizations?
"....First you get like-minded folks together to work through problems....Also from a bigger picture (national or international perspective) it lends credence to the picture that you want to support the industry to accomplish things that are much bigger than your local area...."

:11:25:
Where can people find out more information about the Network Professional Association (NPA) and the Certified Network Professional (CNP) designation?
"....See the NPA website at http://www.npa.org. Also see the CNP website at http://www.cnp.org. They both have excellent information and applications available...."

:12:45:
How would you describe your top innovative achievements in terms of the problems you were trying to solve, your solutions, and the impact it has today and into the future?
"....Where I work we have a constantly changing environment so we have to keep coming up with innovative solutions to meet the business needs....It's a constant challenge and I enjoy it...."

:14:03:
What are the best job resources for IT professionals?
"....The best resource I found is the local IT community....Another excellent resource is the job board run by the NPA and other professional organizations...."

:15:00:
What are your suggestions for managing the economic challenges?
"....There are lots of opportunities out there to do low cost or even free training to further your career...."

:15:42:
How do you manage change?
"....I approach it as an opportunity because in the business I'm in we are in constant change - so it hasn't been a huge factor in what we do. We just have to work at more efficient and effective solutions...."

:16:07:
What are the best ways of making connections?
"....I still come back to networking within professional organizations...."

:16:37:
As a prominent leader, what were your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?
"....The greatest challenges I had when I was a Chapter leader was managing what was going to be delivered at the next meeting, trying to manage getting vendors in. There was a lot of co-ordination there and I had a lot of help from others who were in the leadership position at the NPA...."

:17:43:
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how business executives and IT professionals can best prepare?
"....The best way you can prepare for the future is continuing to learn, not just technical skills but also soft skills...."

:18:22:
What do you see as the top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....Economic challenges....Ongoing technical challenges because things are changing rapidly....Getting out and being part of the community, both in the professional methodology and just giving back to the community as a whole....

:19:25:
Please provide your views on the IFIP IP3 program on professionalizing the profession. [http://www.IPThree.org]
"....I think the IP3 certification is the perfect way to go and gives the world something to point at and say these people know what they are doing...."