Setting a Precedent—An Interview With John Tippett, Our Inaugural Member of the Year

We're proud to honor John Tippett, vice president and general manager of Aisle8, with our inaugural Member of the Year Award. Tippett joined CompTIA in 2010, and over the last five years, has held numerous leadership roles within CompTIA’s member communities, including the Managed Services Community where he served as chair from 2014-2015, and vice chair in 2013. Tippett also served as a member of CompTIA’s Communities Executive Board from 2013 to 2015, and continues to serve as a member of CompTIA’s Ambassadors Group. He is a familiar face at CompTIA’s Annual Member Meeting and ChannelCon, and a recognized business leader within the MSP community. In honor of his award, we sat down with Tippett to discuss his history with the association, what the honor means to him, and what his future with CompTIA looks like.

CompTIA: "So let's start with this: what does it mean to you to be a CompTIA member?"

John Tippett: "I love being a part of Comptia—I've I’ve been involved for quite a while now, and it’s been very valuable to me on a personal and professional level. I’ve met a lot of great people that I’ll call friends for life, and through those relationships I’ve learned a lot. CompTIA to me is one of the rare places where there is a very wide variety of individuals that congregate, but we’re all connected by the commonality of loving IT business, and that to me is one of the most unique things about CompTIA."

C: "How did you first hear about us?"

JT: "Early on in my career, CompTIA was just a nebulous technology organization that I’d heard about. It wasn’t until 2008 that I started understanding more about the organization itself, that it was more than just certification and training, that it was actually an entire industry association. That was when I heard about the precursor to ChannelCon, Breakaway, this conference that brought people together to talk about issues in the IT channel, opportunities and best business practices—so I thought what the heck, let’s go see what CompTIA is all about.

"I attended that show, and I remember the energy level and the dedication of the folks that were there was just contagious. That diversity is really key, and meaningful to me. You could be having a conversation with a high-level executive at a publicly traded company, and then a few minutes later you could be having a similar conversation with someone that’s just started a business in their local community. It just fascinated me, and I knew then that CompTIA was going to be an organization I wanted to stay involved with. I would say that was the moment I realized I need to be a part of CompTIA."

C: "And how did you get involved in the Managed Services community?"

JT: "So when I went to Breakaway, I was running a managed services practice and was looking for ways to improve my business. I saw on the event agenda that there was a community—at the time it was then called the Managed IT services Community—holding a meeting, so I went.

"I saw some of the leaders, both from CompTIA and the industry working hard to get things moving, setting initiatives and common goals. As a whole, I saw inside this community and found everything in it was relevant to me. CompTIA is so broad, there are so many things you can do, that you discover in these communities an anchor for all this content that is core to what you do every day—that was kind of it for me. I went to this meeting and realized this community has the right leadership from CompTIA, the right membership from the greater association, and the energy level of everyone involved—like I said it was contagious, and it furthered the energy in me that caused me to say I want to be part of CompTIA, and I want to be part of this community."

 "The Managed Services Community focuses in part on creating and defining industry standard definitions, best practices and benchmarks for managed IT services—in the big picture of IT, why is establishing such stringent standards so important?"

JT: "When I first joined the community, there was a lot of confusion in the marketplace. Back at that time, being a managed services provider, it was not very easy to articulate to customers what is you do and how you do it. Today, when you walk into a potential customer’s office and you present your options for services, the likelihood is very high they know exactly what a managed services operation is, and they probably have three different quotes that you’re competing with.

"There’s a couple things that resonate with me, when you build standards that help. The first is, obviously, you’re differentiating yourself in the marketplace when you adhere to them. When there’s so many different providers offering services under this banner of managed services, having a vendor-agnostic industry association like CompTIA say 'These are the best practices and this is what a managed services provider should do for you,' that’s very helpful, to use those guidelines when you’re talking with potential clients, and using that as framework for a conversation as you’re prospecting and growing your relationship."

C: "What experiences or events in your time with CompTIA have really stood out?"

JT: "What stands out is my overall involvement with CompTIA. It’s not just one experience or event. Going all the way back to that first community meeting, when I felt like I knew very little and few people, there were impressions made on me then. Since then, I have developed this professional network I can reach out to when I run into situations, and I can also reciprocate that and share lessons  I've learned.

"CompTIA has really helped me build a diverse network. Being in the community, meeting with all these leaders and seeing what they have to say and how they communicate, it means that every meeting I’m in I learn something. Could be a simple thing that’s passive and minor that helps me along, and other times it might be some mind-blowing best practice. There has just been so many good things that have come from the events and meetings and calls—it’s just been amazing to have been through that process, from coming in when everything felt new to becoming the chair of the community. And still, every time I go to an event or attend a session, I pick something new up."

C: "And what lessons or takeaways have stuck with you, in terms of leadership?"

JT: "In my experience with CompTIA, seeing these different communication styles and seeing how different people relate their point, watching these different leaders and members of the communities communicate, being able to see that diverse range of folks with all kinds of different leadership styles and experiences, is just huge for me. I don’t know anywhere else you can have a conversation with a high-level leader, listening to the trials and tribulations of their business, and just a few minutes later I’ll be talking to a millennial who’s business is just getting started, who thinks about things from a completely different perspective. It’s great to see that diversity and to learn from all these people who are all working to accomplish the same things: improving themselves and growing their business."

C: "Is there anyone that’s really stuck with you in your time with the association? Do you have a member of the year?"

JT: "That is one tough question. I have met so many great people, I really could just talk for hours about every individual I’ve met and learned from, how different they are and how much I’ve gained through knowing them. And I would grow that too, to include the CompTIA staff. The staff has taught me so much—they’re all helpful, dedicated, knowledgeable. It’s an amazing group of people, just like the membership, such an incredible diverse group anchored by the same aims. There are very few people I’ve met through CompTIA who haven’t left some sort of impression on me in a positive way."

C: "You already do a lot of work with CompTIA, and in the past you’ve been involved with groups like the Columbia County Humane Society and the Red Cross—coupled with regular work commitments, how do you balance your responsibilities, and do you have advice for others looking to get involved in new groups or communities, but find making time for it difficult?"

JT: "To me, if you’re involved in things that are deeply important to you—if you’re aligned with the cause, and the organization you’re with is improving you and allowing you to do a better job in what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s helping businesses grow at CompTIA, or helping animals with the Humane Society, or working with the less fortunate through the Red Cross, those are things that resonate with me, and I find that when things resonate with you, it helps you find a way to get things done and to give back.

"I’m careful to try and think about what things align with my personal and professional goals. And I find that when the organization you’re involved with is aligned with the passion you already have, finding time is the least of it. I think about it a little bit differently than trying to find the time—it’s more like, I look back and wonder ‘where did the time go?’"

C: "Do you have any advice for those who want to get more involved in CompTIA?"

JT: "I would say communities in general are a great place to start. I obviously love the Managed Services Community, and it’s a great place to be, but there’s plenty of other great communities. And I think for people who are reviewing where they are and what their professional goals should be, that communities are a great place to get started. Find an ambassador or someone who’s been involved in CompTIA to guide you, I found that really helped me when I first started out. Stay true to what your goals are, don’t try to sign up for everything and go everywhere—understand what is it you’re trying to gain from CompTIA, and identify a good place to get involved."

C: "Any advice for future hopeful members of the year?"

 "That’s an interesting question. To be honest, I am extremely honored with the award, and equally humbled. There are so many amazing people involved with CompTIA, I don’t even know how you go about choosing someone for an award like this. In light of the fact that it wasn’t something I was actively seeking out, it’s kind of tough to offer advice for a future honoree, other than, I would say continue to look for opportunities that align with who you are and what you want to do. CompTIA is really one of those organizations where you get back more than you put in."

Established in 2016, the CompTIA Member of the Year Award celebrates the contributions and commitment of a single Premier Member to the greater community.An inaugural awards ceremony in Tippett’s honor will take place this month at the CompTIA Annual Member Meeting, to be held March 22-24 at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Hotel.

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