Long View Staff Rally Behind Playgrounds for Haiti Initiative

April 25, 2013
You could almost say that Paul Rwankole’s whole life changed in the space of a sentence. Paul had volunteered to be part of a 10-day emergency relief mission to Haiti in May 2010. Four months prior to that, one of the deadliest earthquakes in recorded history had shattered the Caribbean country. On the second-last day of that mission, one of his Haitian contacts told him: “You can leave Haiti, but Haiti cannot leave you.” “Those words still ring in my head,” he says. Those words also acted as the catalyst for an inspirational, company-wide Long View initiative — an initiative called Playgrounds for Haiti. The next time he heads south, on May 24, Paul will be leading a team of 17 of us that includes mostly Long View staff, along with some of our friends and family members, on a nine-day Playgrounds for Haiti assignment. Our team will be getting our hands dirty by building three school playgrounds around Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, on behalf of Haiti Outreach Ministries. That’s not all. Our amazing Long View staff from across North America have raised the $18,000 needed to purchase the playground equipment in the first place. In fact, those three months’ worth of fundraising efforts were so successful that we raised an extra $7,000. That money will fund an educational summer camp project, called The Long View Summer Camp, organized by Calgary-based charity Reach Haiti. Now, that is something for us to be truly proud of. Paul, one of our consultants based in Calgary, has already been to Haiti four times, leading medical, construction, and mental-health teams. He believes Long View’s Playgrounds for Haiti fundraising effort has been nothing less than “incredible.” “It’s just been a fantastic response. I’ve spoken with (CEO) Don (Bialik) about it, and I’ve told him that he has a lot of people with what I like to call unbridled enthusiasm,” says Paul. The $25,000 was raised, in part, through an online auction of authentic Haitian art, a raffle involving NHL hockey tickets and a one-hour helicopter tour, a bake sale, and a payroll deduction program. Above and beyond the fundraising effort, our team travelling to Haiti to volunteer for the playground-building project will be doing so at our own expense. Joanna Birrell is one of the travellers. She’s a project manager at our Calgary office, and she has a degree in international development. She also spent two years in Thailand, helping relief efforts following the southeast Asian tsunami of 2004. She says experiences such as Playgrounds for Haiti make her take a step back, look at her life, and value what’s important. “Children have an amazing resilience when it comes to tragedy and disaster, but they’re often forgotten as aid focuses on the big items like housing, sanitation, and livelihood assistance,” she says. “Just seeing those smiles as the kids enter the playgrounds for the first time will be more than enough of a reward.” I see Playgrounds for Haiti as a perfect example of Long View’s “culture of caring.” Our people consistently show a level of commitment to social responsibility and community involvement that goes far above and beyond traditional corporate standards. What’s truly special about this initiative is that it started from one of our staff speaking about his experiences in Haiti — and then, in the moment, offering to take a group of people with him if they were interested. Paul says he can clearly remember Haiti Outreach Ministries suggesting a playground-building project, and telling him the price tag was $18,000 for two playgrounds. “I went back to Long View for a meeting with the project committee, thinking this was a really big sum of money,” says Paul. “The response I got was: ‘Is that it?’ ”
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Mobility: An IT Career Trend that’s Constantly on the Move

April 24, 2013
As most of my Long View colleagues can attest, a career in IT is a career that never stands still. And those of us who work in Mobility (as the name might suggest) have learned to operate at an even higher gear. As a leader with Long View’s Mobility practice, I’ve seen the maturity of the space evolve rapidly. Right now, we’re supporting handheld and mobile devices that enjoy faster connectivity than most office-based Local Area Networks. Frankly, the growth in smartphone technology itself is a challenge to keep up with, not to mention tablets. In other words, grab hold — because it’s moving very, very fast. Mobility, as you’ve probably already guessed, is one of the most dynamic areas on the IT landscape today, and it provides a constant challenge to IT professionals specializing in the space. Users are adding mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets) to their traditional desktop workspace environments. Some of them are migrating entirely. And any IT professional worth his or her salt can tell you this change presents new challenges — and demands new skills — for deployment, support, and securing of these devices and the environments in which they’re used. Robin Bell, our Chief Technology Officer at Long View, believes the enterprise is looking for better methods of managing employees’ mobile devices in a holistic way, and also seeking better security and consistency of support. In his view, the traditional means of managing devices and supporting end users have changed — and, in some cases, no longer apply. Some experts in the field believe this particular Mobility trend, along with other factors such as price and the availability of technology, has led to the so-called “consumerization of IT.” They believe enterprises need to do a better job of adapting to consumer (and employee) mobile technology. Practically speaking, if you’re an IT professional looking to specialize in the fast-moving world of Mobility, I’d suggest that certain considerations are critical. The integration of enterprise messaging, for one. Deep understanding of network technologies and public-key infrastructure (PKI), as well. I’d say a well-rounded and well-versed understanding of wireless hardware and operating systems (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows), and a firm grasp of traditional datacenter technologies, are all key to success. And from a purely tactical perspective — this arises directly out of our experience dealing with Long View’s clients — I also believe that much of Mobility boils down to crafting corporate policies and designing governance frameworks. To me, it’s critical to understand how the traditional, top-down business enterprise paradigm is changing. Workshift is impacting how and when people connect. The technology in the home, in many cases, is more powerful than the stuff that’s provisioned by the employer. Believe it or not, Mobility involves emotional and cultural challenges, too. Android users, iPhone users, and BlackBerry users are three very different people in the workplace, and they use their smartphones in different ways, for different reasons. So . . . you’re thinking about specializing in the Mobility space. What skills do you need to be exceptional? You need to be able to talk to three different generations in the workforce. You need to be a good business communicator, because you’ll very likely need to be able write policy and procedure in governance. And you’ll need the broad set of technical skills required to integrate the ever-changing devices into the data center. What about the attraction, the rush, that you’ll get out of Mobility? To me, it’s clear. It’s empowering people to do business on any device, anywhere.
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