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IBM Champions in Action: Steve Wolk

By Prenessa Lowery posted Thu August 06, 2020 06:29 PM


IBM Champions in Action: Steve Wolk

Steve Wolk is an avid IBM i enthusiast. He was first introduced to the System/38 in 1986, and followed its progression through AS/400 and ultimately to IBM i. As his career developed during those 34 years, his appreciation grew for what this platform represents to his company as well as our community. He believes it's the best computing platform for business for many reasons, which is why he does everything he can to promote the platform and the community surrounding it. It's for this reason that he volunteers with many User Groups within the community including COMMON, LUG, and LISUG, along with teaching and mentoring to build the next generation of IBM i enthusiasts.

Get to know Steve Wolk

Steve Wolk is the CTO for P.C. Richard & Son, a large chain of private, family owned appliance, television, electronics, and mattress stores throughout the Northeast US. 

When asked how he felt to be a first time IBM champion this year, the word he used was “proud.” He says, “To understand what motivates me, it helps to look back a bit. As a kid, I used to go to garage sales in pursuit of electronics and intentionally buy the broken ones. It may sound unconventional, but I enjoyed analyzing them to see how they worked, taking them apart, and then putting them back together to make them work.”

Years later, he still holds this same passion of trying to improve inefficiencies and help both things and people work as successfully as possible. He does this in his capacity as CTO of PC Richard & Son, where he first started more than 34 years ago as a Night Data-Entry Manager. “From that first position to where I am today,” says Steve, “I feel fortunate that I've had the opportunity to learn from incredibly talented and dedicated people. I also now have the chance to lead some of those people, and our team is collectively responsible for all phases of technology development, acquisition, deployment, and support throughout the company.”

Steve on being an IBM Champion during the Pandemic

When reflecting on the changes the community saw over these last few months, Steve said, “It was with a heavy heart that all of the groups of which I'm a part worked to convert physical meetings to virtual, while trying not to lose momentum or mind share. As a member of the LUG Board of Directors, the LISUG Board of Directors, and the COMMON Strategic Education Team, I felt a tremendous sense of loss as we dismantled planning already well underway for our physical events.” However, he found that there were also tremendous opportunities to reinvent these organizations and find new ways to serve members while bringing the community together virtually. 

Aside from presenting many virtual sessions for quite a number of online conferences, Steve worked to organize and promote many virtual conference offerings with COMMON, LUG, and LISUG. He hosted and moderated a series of panel discussions in a COMMON work from home series, "Work From Home: A COMMON Guide to Success", which was tremendously interactive and rewarding - and very timely, considering how many people were working from home for the first time. He also volunteered to join the COMMON Art of the Possible Virtual Conference subcommittee, which focuses not just on technology or the IBM i, but the successful and impactful business application of that technology.

In addition to converting his local LISUG user group meetings to be virtual, he and the rest of the board combined them with a charity drive to give back to those affected by COVID-19. Steve also organized and hosted the first ever LISUG Virtual Happy Hour, an IBM i focused social event. While there have been no shortage of IBM i focused virtual offerings over the past few months, they've been primarily education focused. This was predominantly an IBM i focused social event, designed to allow individuals to share their experiences and what they've learned during these unprecedented times. Speaking about the event, Steve says, “It was very successful, and we hope to make this a regular event and grow attendance and participation over time.”

Thank you, Steve Wolk!

Thank you to Steve for sharing about yourself, your experiences in IT and insights as an IBM Champion. If you’re interested in connecting with Steve, please reach out to him on LinkedIn.

If you’d like to learn about other IBM Champions, please check out the additional Champion in Action blogs.