This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I have an interview with Barry Sellers: CNP Torch Bearer Award Recipient.

Barry SellersCNP Torch Bearer Award honors senior members of the computing profession who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the profession or the industry, by demonstrating that they embody the spirit of the CNP.

The first annual winner, Barry Sellers, is one of the many pioneers of the Network Professional Association; a Distinguished Fellow of the Network Professional Association (DFNPA). Barry was active in the formation of the Association and a guide to building the standards of NPA today. He was the founder and president of the Shreveport Chapter of the Network Professional Association (1993 -1995). During the years 1995 through 2011, Barry Sellers served as a member of the NPA Board of Directors including tenure as chairman. Barry is a visionary of the Certified Network Professional program started in 1996.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The Network Professional Association® (NPA), in conjunction with Interop, Microsoft, GITCA, Cisco Press and Agile IT, announce four individuals as winners of the tenth annual Awards for Professionalism. The international contest for the Awards for Professionalism honors individuals working as network computing professionals. Selection is based on meeting the ideals of the Network Professional Association, the advocate for the network computing professional. Read the story at www.AwardsforProfessionalism.org.

DISCUSSION:

Q:
Barry, you have a remarkable background of lifetime successes. Congratulations on receiving the CNP Torch Bearer Award. Moreover, thank you for sharing your deep experiences and insights with our audience.
A: Thank you Stephen, it is a great honor to be recognized by the Network Professional Association and the Certified Network Professional (CNP) Certification Program specifically.

Q:
What do you believe was the catalyst in receiving the CNP Torch Bearer Award?
A: I have spent all of my professional life in support of certifications for our profession in general, but my work to build up and promote the CNP program was the catalyst.

Q:
Can you describe your personal experiences for the challenges leading up and then winning the CNP Torch Bearer Award?
A: I started my career later in life than most – I spent the 10 years after my graduation from college as a retail manager. I have always had a hobby of working with computers and when an opportunity arose for me to make my hobby into my career, I grabbed it. I was able to go back to school and get my masters degree in Computer Systems Technology which launched me into the IT profession. I started at a great institution, Louisiana State University Medical Center, where they really believe in continuing education. I was able to take classes and gain certifications that started me on a path to where I am today with 23 certifications.
In 1993 I was invited to join a start-up organization, the Certified Novell Engineer Professional Association (CNEPA), which became the Network Professional Association (NPA). I started the Shreveport, LA chapter as the President and I became involved with the international organization on the concept of an independent IT certification that would be able to do for the IT industry what the CPA did for the accounting industry. I was one of the first CNP holders and I have worked to enhance and strengthen that program ever since.
There have been high points and low points in my journey, but I would not trade it for anything in the world and the Torch Bearer award is a very big highlight to my life.

Q:
How did it feel to win this award?
A: Unexpected and amazing. I have been working to elevate the profession for quite a while and it is wonderful to be recognized for it.

Q:
What was the reaction from your friends and family in receiving this award?
A: They were all as surprised as me and they congratulated me. My coworkers and my management also recognized and congratulated me on winning as well.

Q:
How will you leverage the recognition?
A: I will use this award to get a wider recognition of the CNP program and its benefits as well as using it to get more people involved in enhancing the program.

Q:
You are the Chair of the CNP Council. Can you describe the CNP and its value?
A: The Certified Network Professional (CNP) designation is a vendor agnostic, international professional network designation sponsored by the Network Professional Association (NPA). It requires acceptance of a code of ethics, a demonstrated mastery of a body of IT and networking knowledge, and the demonstrated ability to apply that knowledge in a professional setting. CNP holders are required to re-certify every year to show that they maintain up-to-date networking IT skills and best practices.
Like other professional designations — professional engineers and certified public accountants – the CNP demonstrates that its holders possess the education and experience to practice to the highest standards in their field.
The CNP designation represents honor, excellence, accomplishment, success, experience, education, and the ability to strive in a life long career in the information technology networking industry where it is all publicly recognized. Employers and peers look for individuals representing and furthering the best professional attributes represented in the CNP designation. The CNP encompasses vendor and product certifications, advanced education degrees and training, bona fide network experience, and continual professional development into a single designation. Diplomas, certificates, resumes are enhanced and supported by background verification for experience, ethics and financial stability.
A person can qualify by demonstrating experience in the broad category of computer networking, and closely related fields seek the professional validation stemming from a CNP. Networking IT Professionals want a professional designation with demonstrable work experience supported by education, good business ethics and reputation and stability. IT professionals, Educators and Leaders in the network computing profession are qualified to receive the special distinction of the CNP.
The CNP has value to each of these stakeholders:
To the IT Practitioner:
The CNP designation boosts your:

  • Sustained career development and growth;
  • Collaboration opportunities;
  • Speaking, writing, leadership progression;
  • Profile, respect, credibility; and
  • Demonstrated professional image.
To the IT Profession:
The CNP designation establishes and maintains the highest standards of:
  • Sustained and validated professional development;
  • Demonstrated and proven professional practice and high competency;
  • Trusted ethics and conduct; and
  • Protection of public safety through established complaint and disciplinary procedures.
To Employers and Clients:
They know they can count on the CNP holder's:
  • Sustained excellence and adherence to professionalism and professional standards;
  • Ongoing professional development producing increasing value;
  • Prerequisite education and experience;
  • Proof of knowledge of the latest standards and best practices;
  • Diversity of skills;
  • Commitment to proven competence, integrity, ethical conduct and trustworthiness; and
  • Highest-quality work and productivity that will bolster the "bottom line" with increased savings and profits.

Q:
What are your views on professionalism?
A: There are 3 major points to professionalism for me:

  1. Adhering to a code of ethics
    – You must have a set of standards to believe in and are willing to be held to.
  2. Doing the best possible job you can – including keeping up on new technologies or processes
    – You have to be honest as to what you can and cannot do for everyone you work for.
    – You have to stay up on the changes that are occurring in your profession because the needs of the folks you are working for are evolving as fast as the industry.
  3. Giving back to the community, both professional and the community in general through
    – Do pro-bono work for organizations that cannot afford your services – it keeps your skill honed and it's fun.
    – Participate in the professional community. Go to user groups, participate in online communities or blog – helping others helps you.

Q:
How would you describe your top innovative achievements in terms of the problems you were trying to solve, your solutions, and the impact they have today and into the future?
A: I have learned that big changes require patience and vision. My biggest achievement was working with a large holding company with ~50K users to influence them to consolidate all of their disparate IT infrastructures into one. This was especially difficult because the culture was one of isolation. It took 6 months to get all of the different lines of business to agree to consolidation, and it took 2 years to implement it and they are now poised to move in directions that they never believed possible before the consolidation.

Q:
Why are computers one of your passions and what ignited this passion?
A: I have always had an interest in computers going back to high school when I bought a Commodore 64 and spent hours programming it to do anything I wanted it to do. I found that computers were powerful tools and that their uses were so many that I could only scratch the surface of possibilities.

Q:
What are your future career aspirations? What are you most passionate about?
A: I am most interested in jobs that enable folks to accomplish tasks or produce products that they never dreamed were possible – AKA "moving the bar".

Q:
Please share your current volunteer roles, why you serve, what value is being created by these organizations, why you recommend others to serve?
A: I volunteer with these organizations:
St. Andrews School is a small inner city school where I am a member of their IT committee. I have analyzed and modernized their IT infrastructure and I support them in an ongoing basis. This school exists on donations and leverages the resources of many of the large institutions in my city. The school has a great record of turning around lives of inner city youth to the point where all their children have graduated. The smiles on those children's faces are what drive me to serve them.


Network Professional Association (NPA) where I am currently a member of the international Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Certification Committee. I have been the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer/CFO, Secretary, Head Judge - NPA Awards for Professionalism, and the By-laws Committee Chairman. The NPA is the advocate for the network computing professional – providing activities and opportunities to grow and prosper. I serve with the NPA to make a difference in our profession. You should participate in your professional organization to enhance and move the profession to new heights.


Global Information Technology Community Association (GITCA) where I am currently the North American Vice Chairman, the North American Chairman-Elect and the NPA representative. I have been the Treasurer. GITCA has over 800 member organizations and over 3.9 million IT professionals; it is the world's largest international not-for-profit independent organization, powered by dedicated volunteers devoted to the development and growth of the IT community, by providing services to support leaders and connect user groups, associations, and student IT organizations. GITCA stands committed to the free exchange of resources, ultimately elevating the status of the IT Professional both in their industry and in the community. I serve here so that I can work with many organizations and my representative organization on big projects.


Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) where I am currently the NPA representative. It is an association of professional organizations whose members have an active interest in the practice and professionalism of Enterprise Architecture. I serve here to move the bar on the profession of Enterprise Architecture.

Q:
From your experiences, what tips would you provide to those who want to excel in their careers as IT professionals to help them in their journey?
A: Understanding that certifications are not the silver bullet for IT careers, they are only proof that you have the minimum set of knowledge in an IT area. Certifications are great to get you in the door, but you will have to have experience to keep the job.

Q:
What are your tips, lessons, and best resources for those wanting a career in computing?
A: Start working with User Groups and professional organizations in your area, they are a great resource for someone coming new into the IT profession to help them decide what they really want to do. After you have an idea of where you want to specialize, take some courses or read the certification books and get one certification under your belt. But be aware that certifications are only proof of a minimum set of knowledge, and that the certification by itself will not get you a job. To enhance your experience and exposure levels you should volunteer for non profit organizations.

Q:
Provide your predictions of future IT trends and their implications/opportunities?
A: Change is definitely the only constant in our profession – constant continuing education is a requirement.

Q:
As a prominent leader, what were your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?
A: The biggest challenge I have experienced is finding and training someone to take over the current position I have, whether it is in a commercial or a user group environment. I may not actually move on, but that person becomes a peer I can trust and work with.

Q:
Please provide your views on the IFIP IP3 program on professionalizing the profession. [http://www.IPThree.org]
A: I fully support the IP3 program.