Doug Rabold, one of the speakers at HDI Support World Live this year, reflects on how many in the HDI community have helped him learn the ropes after a mid-career shift to IT Service Management. He now relishes being in the position to give back.

by Douglas Rabold
Date Published November 9, 2021 - Last Updated December 16, 2021

At the HDI Support World Live Conference, I had the opportunity to address all in attendance about the benefits of the HDI Local Chapter community. Knowing there was no way I could fit everything in the short amount of time allocated, I did something that the HDI community has taught me well: I leaned on others to assist.

After being asked to address the conference, I first called on Tom Wilk, one of the HDI Regional Vice Presidents, and asked that he co-present with me. I then contacted Tara Gibb and Craig Idlebrook at HDI, requesting that we publish this article as a tie-in to the address Tom and I would deliver to the conference attendees. As is the HDI way, Tom, Tara, and Craig readily accepted and accommodated my requests.

Their assistance illustrates exactly what I hoped to convey to the attendees and to the Support World readers. As I reflect on my HDI journey, the one word that comes to mind above all others is connection. This one word sums up the HDI community at all levels – national, local, and virtual. By being part of the HDI community, one becomes part of an organization that connects people at all career stages across the globe who are open, caring, and willing to share.

It is with complete sincerity that I say my career would not be what it is today if not for my affiliation with HDI. Having made a mid-life career change into IT Service Management, I gravitated toward HDI to get myself up to speed on the industry. Yes, I started my HDI journey being a “taker” who needed to get something from the community. And much to my great surprise, everyone I met at HDI conferences, training certification classes and local chapter meetings was more than willing to help!

The very first conference session I attended in 2012 was a preconference on Service Desk metrics facilitated by Doug Tedder. I arrived early and sat right next to the projector as Doug was setting up for the class. I asked a few questions, and Doug very graciously and patiently paused setting up to answer them.

I learned a lot that day about what I as a new Service Desk supervisor needed to be measuring and how to measure it. More importantly, though, Doug and I exchanged business cards and connected on LinkedIn after the session. Being new to the industry, I had no idea just how legendary Doug Tedder was – and is. Over the years, Doug has been very supportive of my career growth and development – and as I began speaking at conferences, we took to going by the monikers of “Doug” and “Other Doug.”

This cycle was oft repeated early in my career. Oblivious to the stature of some of the industry luminaries whose paths I crossed, I connected with John Custy, Ron Muns, Jim, Bolton, Ken Wendle, Mary Cruse, Julie Mohr, Roy Atkinson, and Malcolm Fry – all HDI Hall of Famers. I also connected with luminaries like Troy DuMoulin, Gregg Gregory, and Kirk Weisler and, more recently, with a whole host of next wave legends like Manley Feinberg, Phil Gerbyshak, Nate Brown, Justin Robbins, Ben Brennan, and Jeff Toister. These are all folks who can (and in some cases do) charge thousands of dollars in consulting fees for their expert insights and advice. Yet every one of them freely gave of their time and thoughts when I simply picked up the phone and gave them a call.

I could give dozens of examples of this, but I’ll narrow it down to this one: Several years ago, I was new to my role with a company I’d only recently joined. I quickly identified significant gaps in the maturity of the IT Service Management processes. After a thorough internal review, I put together a strategy that seemed to make sense on how to quickly realize the most positive impact.

On a whim I reached out to Malcolm Fry, whom I affectionately call the “Godfather of Service Management”. I’d crossed paths with Malcolm a few times at conferences and had him come to speak at my local HDI chapter when he was doing a sponsored tour of North America. We exchanged contact info at some point, but only really had exchanged pleasantries besides that. When I picked up the phone to speak with Malcolm, I didn’t really expect him to pick up, and even if he did answer, I didn’t expect to get more than a few minutes of his time.

Much to my surprise, he must have had my number programmed into his cell phone because on the second ring, in his charming and affable manner, Malcom answered, “Hullo, Doug! How are you?” You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I somehow managed through my utter shock to tell Malcolm that I was working on reorganizing and maturing a service delivery team to improve results. I explained that I’d already performed analysis and established a prioritized plan, but would like his thoughts on it. To my second shock, Malcolm told me, “Doug, I’m on holiday at my home in France. But if you’d be so kind as to send me the deck, I’ll look it over. Let’s schedule an hour next Thursday to discuss.” I sent it off, hardly expecting that I’d hear anything back.

His offer seemed too good to be true – but it got even better. When the following Thursday came round, we spent two hours on the phone. Malcolm had thoroughly evaluated my analysis and plan and gave me a few pointers, but said overall my plan was sound and pretty much what he would have recommended. He then offered to huddle up with me in a few months to check in on our progress. All of this because we’d connected in just a few brief conversations.

This is the power of connecting globally through HDI, but there are also examples of how the local chapter community has impacted the trajectory of my career. Every year the HDI Local Chapters Organization holds a Leadership Summit. I first attended the summit in 2016, and I knew virtually no one. As I was standing in the hallway outside the meeting room the first day, Donald “Chewy” Chew walked up to me and introduced himself, welcomed me, and said he was glad I made it. I have never forgotten the positive impact that Chewy had on my Summit experience – and I never let Chewy forget it, either. And keeping that moment in mind, whenever I see someone new at an HDI event, I walk up and do for them exactly what Chewy did for me – make them feel welcome.

Another unforgettable connection was made with Nick Lerouge, our District President ,when I was a local officer for the San Antonio chapter. Nick and I had some one-on-one conversations where he encouraged me to continue to grow within HDI and to take on more responsibilities. In fact, he challenged me to take on the chapter president role, which I did about a year later. Then Nick challenged me to begin speaking at HDI conferences – another challenge fulfilled a year later. As our local chapter thrived, Nick encouraged me to take on a national officer role. Without his encouragement, I likely would have remained engaged only at the local level, and not taken on the expanded challenges of national office – or of professional speaking.

Most recently, “Team Brandy” (Sandy Seroskie and Brandon Caudle) were massive influencers of my HDI experience. I first got to know them a few years ago at the Leadership Summit. Brandon and I first connected over soccer – a shared passion of ours. Our conversations soon turned to how we guide our organization toward a more inclusive and more successful future. Sandy, Nick Lerouge, and I happened to have been teamed up in an “accountability buddy” exercise that gave us the chance to get to know one another better as leaders and communicators. If not for the guidance and thought leadership of Team Brandy around the direction of our chapter network, much of what we as an organization have achieved in the last few years wouldn’t have been possible. And I’m certain that I’d have not been prepared for the responsibilities of operating a nationwide network of local chapters.

Recently, I came to realize it was my turn to be the giver.

At the 2017 HDI Conference, there were three attendees who were vying for top contributor to the conference app for the entire week. Posts, photos, thoughts, and check-ins were flying fast and furious in this gamified version of conference king of the hill. I’d known of Adam Brody for a few years because he’d always gotten the distinction of being the top contributor during the conference, but I’d never actually seen nor met him. That year I’d vowed to do my best to unseat him. It became a great race for Adam and I as we jockeyed for position, staying neck-and-neck throughout the week.

But then a dark horse showed up in the standings – someone we were both unfamiliar with…a guy named Tom Wilk had come out of nowhere to join the leaderboard. Several other contenders had risen to the challenge only to fall far back as Adam and I continued our posting blitz, but this Tom guy continued to keep pace. When all was said and done, we finished 1-2-3 in the rankings of contributors to the conference app. On the last day of the conference, we used the app to contact one another for a meet-up in front of the stage to get a photo snapped – and posted, of course! But as we met at the front of the massive hall, I literally did not know Tom from Adam.

But from that brief photo opportunity, Tom and I connected. Despite living halfway across the continent, we’ve been best of friends ever since. It’s been amazing seeing Tom grow from being a local chapter officer in Pittsburgh to being a national committee chairman to being a Regional Vice President. Along the way, I challenged him to begin speaking at conferences – something that he began doing one year later. I’ve helped to connect him with some of these legends and with other speakers. Tom has now expanded his – and HDI’s – reach further by hosting a weekly livestream show for HDI Local Chapters that is also aimed at an expanded audience.

And so my journey with HDI has evolved, certainly just as it had for all the people I’ve mentioned. The “taker” has become the “giver”. Lean on me; let me know how I can help. That is the power of the HDI Local Chapter network – the power of connection.

Doug Rabold is Founder and Principal Consultant of Bold Ray Consulting in San Antonio, Texas. As an IT Operations Leader he has had direct oversight of over a dozen different ITIL processes including Change Management, Problem Management, Configuration Management, Knowledge Management, IT Asset Management, IT Procurement, Telecom Expense Management, Quality Assurance and Business Relationship Management. Beyond Service Management, Doug is an acknowledged expert at customer experience and employee engagement and has led teams of up to 300 resources and managed contracts and asset values totaling over $50 million.

A lifelong learner, he attended the University of Illinois and holds certifications in ITIL Foundations, HDI Support Center Director, HDI Problem Management, HDI Technical Support Professional, HDI Support Center Manager, Knowledge Centered Support Principles and Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt. He is also an HDI Certified Instructor and is serving on the HDI National Board of Directors as National President.

Tag(s): supportworld, culture


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