Lessons in Leadership: Reflections from Greg Sanker


HDI’s Top 25 Thought Leaders for 2016 share leadership advice and predictions for the future.

by Amy Eisenberg
September 5, 2017

In January 2017, HDI presented the Top 25 Thought Leaders in Technical Support and Service Management. To help you get to know them better and learn what it means to be a community leader, we’ve interviewed each of our thought leaders. Today, we hear from Greg Sanker.

Greg Sanker, ITSM

Tell us about your day job and also how you are involved in the community.

Having spent my first 25 years in IT at a Fortune 10 technology company, I’m currently interim CIO with a state agency in the beautiful state of Oregon.

I started ITSMTransition.com as a resource for the ITSM practitioner community. I’ve done a fair number of webinars, I speak at conferences, and I’ve just completed a book, IT Change Management: A Practitioner’s Guide.

What motivates you to be active in the community?

Two main things have shaped my career. First, I worked for an incredibly forward thinking company where I found myself surrounded with the smartest people in the industry. Everyone there freely shared anything they knew. And I learned a lot.

The second thing was the global ITSM community, those who literally wrote the books that we all learned from. So many of us owe our careers in ITSM to those who shared what they know.

So, for me, I’m active in the global community because that’s what we do. I’m in the position where I do this for a living; I have to make this stuff work and accomplish things in my job. I once described myself as one who “makes mistakes all day (in my job), and I write about it at night.”

What suggestions do you have for tech support professionals interested in getting more involved in the community?

Jump in and get involved. Join the community. Its actually a fairly small community.

My personal approach is to be quick to listen and slow to speak. A lot of extremely knowledgeable people out there share what they know. Listen and learn.

That’s just good advice. But the other side is, especially in the world of support, things are evolving rapidly. What was happening when I was doing tech support isn’t what’s happening today. Yes, customer service, strong technical skills, and passion for resolving issues never goes out of style. But the community needs the voice of the next generation to be heard, to push the industry forward. So, join the community, but know that you have something to contribute. Don’t be intimidated or wait decades.

What trends do you anticipate for IT operations management over the next few years?

  • Leaning out IT value streams (think: better, faster, cheaper).
  • Cloud (think: herding cats).
  • Value (think: what else could I do with my IT budget).

Before we all got really good at managing IT services (ITSM), the world exploded with cloud, mobility, and complex multi-vendor environments. Our “home field advantage” vaporized before our eyes. Our customers now know they can buy enterprise-grade IT services with a mobile phone and a credit card. Why should they trust their corporate IT shops when they perceive us as slow, bureaucratic, and impeding business agility?

We have to focus on business value. I know that’s a buzzword these days, but that’s the challenge. CEOs are asking good questions like “Why do I even need IT, when I can buy everything I need off the shelf?”  It’s a good question, and there are good answers. But the answers aren’t our technologies anymore. It’s what we bring to those technologies. We have to get good at stitching together multi-vendor solutions and managing complex relationships with partners and providers. We need to be involved with organizational governance, risk, and compliance. Failure in these areas are a major business risk for companies. Privacy and cyber security are enormous challenges for organizations.

We need to deeply understand the challenges our businesses face and find ways to overcome those challenges. We need to be the people who make magic happen. Who make technology easy.

We need to be the people who make magic happen. Who make technology easy.
Tweet: We need to be the people who make magic happen. Who make technology easy. @gtsanker @ThinkHDI #ITSM

Amy Eisenberg is the editor for HDI where she works with industry experts and practitioners to create content for technical support professionals. She has worked in B2B media and scholarly publishing for more than 20 years, developing content for print and digital magazines, print and email newsletters, websites, conferences, and technical seminars. Follow Amy on Twitter @eisenbergamy, and connect with her on LinkedIn.


Tag(s): supportworld, service management, ITSM, IT service management

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