by Dewayne Dillard

My HDI story began in 2010 during one of the roughest periods of my life both personally and professionally. I found myself in a position surrounded by a group of amazing analysts and feeling like I did not really measure up. I did not believe that I could do anything that would make me stand out in a positive way among the group. I was seriously considering giving up on my education and my career in Information Technology. As I was reaching my lowest point, my manager (and mentor), asked me to join him in a conference room. I entered the room expecting the worst, not the life changing encounter that was to follow. I was being called into the room not to tell me how I had failed, but to inform me that I was being nominated for the HDI Analyst of the Year Award by my leadership team. This moment changed my life and my career.

This act by my manager made me realize that I was being overly critical of myself. I began to understand that I had managed to stand out in a positive way or else this great man would not have taken the time to recognize me, not only to my own organization, but to the IT community at large. This lit a fire inside me to continue to find ways to excel within the IT profession.

Two years later I would have another life changing event occur involving HDI. While attending the Analyst and Desktop Support Technician of the Year awards to support a fellow team member that I had nominated found that an officer position was open on the chapter board. After conferring with my former manager I decided to throw my name into the hat, fully expecting to lose the election, which I did. After the meeting I was approached by the newly elected chapter president, who stated that he wanted to see me more involved and felt that I would do well on the board as the chapter’s webmaster. He sold me on the idea and informed me that the position would be up for election during the following month’s chapter meeting. The following month I was elected to the webmaster position and officially joined the Mid-Ohio Chapter of HDI board.

In reality I accepted the position to make my former manager proud, since he too had served as a board member. I did not yet know the tremendous positive impact this decision would have on all aspects of my life. I began to look deeper into the wealth of information that was available through HDI and I became more excited. I dove into my new role and began looking for ways to make a positive difference to the organization that had provided the recognition program that had salvaged my IT career.

As the chapter meetings continued I began to meet more and more IT professionals from my area. These individuals were all willing to share their experiences and expertise freely, which was truly amazing to me. That year I attended my first officer’s summit, during which I remained fairly quiet never very far from the officers from my local chapter. I was introduced to many extraordinary individuals who all embraced me as though I had been a part of HDI and the local chapter officer’s community for years. I found that these individuals were very easy to speak with and that they were more than willing to answer my questions. I managed to return to my organization with insight gained from this free exchange of ideas and stories of success and failure.

The year that followed would see many changes in me. I went from being very introverted and uncomfortable in my own skin to speaking at meetings volunteering to lead calls for other HDI Webmasters. During that year I attended my first HDI national conference to support others from my organization that were award finalists. During this conference I began to speak with more people that I did not know, including some chance meetings in the hallways that would again have a significant positive impact in my life. Later that year I was asked to lead a breakout session at the local chapter officer’s summit. I would be the only officer attending from my chapter that year but I felt more comfortable at this point. During this summit I was greeted by individuals I had met the year before, again as though we had met many years before. This is when I truly became aware of the value of HDI in my life, the community.

I have now served on the Mid-Ohio board for a little over two years. During this time I learned a great deal about the IT world, industry best practices, and myself. Above all else I have become an active part of a community filled with individuals who understand what I do and my passion for recognizing others. I have become part of something that is closer than a community, I have become part of a family.

So you may ask what this all has to do with the question of "Why Do I love HDI?" It is important to understand my story to understand my answer to this question. I am part of HDI because of people like Mike Little, Carrie Armstrong, Phil Gerbyshak, Kerri Hanna, Leslie Cook, Donald Chew, Ron Kibbe, Sandy Seroskie, Brandon Caudle, and the hundreds of others that have worked hard to make HDI a place that I can be proud to call home.

So if you ask me "Why do I love HDI?" that would be my answer, HDI has become a family that I can depend on through the good and bad times and know that the relationships that I have formed will never falter or fade away.

To those who are new to HDI or considering joining our ranks I have only two words: Welcome Home!