Meet the 2021 Lifetime IBM Champions. The award recognizes IBM Champions who stand above their peers for service to the community. Over multiple years, these IBM Champions consistently excel and positively impact the community. They lead by example, are passionate about sharing knowledge, and provide constructive feedback to IBM.
If you've been reading our Champions in Action series, meeting our IBM Champions through our Spotlight and interview articles, or engaging with the IBM Champions in other ways, you probably know how amazing their contributions are: building community, helping to make IBM products the best they can be, and creating content. We recognize the Lifetime IBM Champions for doing all of those things, of course: they are experts in the products, speakers at conferences, volunteers for community, leading user groups, and creating content. But the IBM Champions we recognize today, like the Lifetime Champions we have named in previous years, take their contributions even farther.
IBM Champions are already the top of the greater community in terms of expertise and contributions. These Lifetime IBM Champions are the top of that group. These IBM Champions set an example in supporting not only IBM products, but also the IBM Champions program: helping recruit and support new Champions, helping represent the program across IBM and other communities, helping the program team when asked to contribute, ensuring we always know what they're working on... And finally, we look for those who will be selected by acclaim - those everyone would agree to when they are suggested or nominated.
Read on for ways that each of this class of Lifetime IBM Champions exemplify these characteristics.
Meet the 2021 Lifetime IBM Champions
@Dave Beulkeis one of the original 11 IBM Champions, recognized the very first year the award was created. He has continued to be recognized every year since. David's expertise and contributions go across Data & AI, IBM Z, and IBM Security.
Dave is also a past president, dating back almost 20 years ago, of IDUG and has advised IDUG and presented at their conferences, as well as contributed blogs and private help to Db2 community worldwide to the point that one person has claimed that the “D” in Db2 stands for “David..."
@Heather Cole has been an IBM Champion since the world of Cognos joined the IBM Champions program. She continues to be a leading authority on the product family, including training customers, IBM executives, and IBM salespeople on the product worldwide. Heather is a constant, very vocal voice for the IBM Cognos family as well as a speaker at IBM events throughout the world.
Heather is active in supporting user groups, locally and internationally. She's an avid reader and often shares what she learns in videos on her LinkedIn page.
@Greg Hodgkinson is CTO at Prolifics and has been an active IBM Champion for 7 years, for products ranging from Rational and other Middleware, to Cloud, DevOps, and Blockchain.
Greg definitely embodies the idea of an innovative thought leader, as he is quick to learn new technology, then actively writes and speaks about how to make that tech work to solve problems. Greg is always willing to speak about his experiences and expertise across IBM.
@Simon Thompson is an IBM Champion for both Storage and Power and is a research computing infrastructure architect. He is the coordinator for the WW Scale User Group and brought this group and its annual event digital in 2020.
Recently, Simon has spoken on a panel hosted by Eric Herzog at IBM Think 2021 on AI and analytics and how storage is important to supporting these workloads. Simon is often a speaker at events, both offering his technical expertise and supporting other user group leaders in how to make their events a success. Simon has also acted as an "experienced user" discussing his work with IBM products and technology in private conversations that help folks make the most of their investments.
@Darren Surch has been an IBM Champion for Z since that area joined the program. He and his company, Interskill, are active supporters for growing Z education, being involved in face to face events, and helping students get interested in The Mainframe! Darren is always ready to engage with other IBM Champions, users, and the press.
Recently, Darren was interviewed by Jennifer Goforth Gregory for a TechChannel E-book: "From Bootcamps to Digital Badges: How to Effectively Develop Mainframe Skills." He has appeared in a variety of podcasts, IBM Tech TV shows, and other public talks providing information on the IBM Digital Credentialing (Badging) program, the IBM Champions program, IBM's academic initiative, and various other education initiatives that IBM provides to ensure the next generation of the mainframe workforce.
Get to know these Champions
I encourage you to connect with our Lifetime IBM Champions here in the community, on LinkedIn, in user groups, and hopefully in person (when the world allows), to learn from them, to find ways to work together, and to be engaged and inspired by their energy and expertise.
These amazing thought leaders, innovators, experts, and mentors join the existing 25 active Lifetime IBM Champions and we are so grateful to have them in the program. As a Lifetime IBM Champion, they will receive a crystal recognizing the achievement, as well as a digital badge. While they no longer have to renew their IBM Champion status each year, instead, we ask them to focus on nominating and mentoring others who might make good future IBM Champions.