Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take Five: Steve Gutter (Cincinnati)

We are reaching out to various volunteers to get their thoughts on BDPA. One of those volunteers is Steve Gutter. Steve is a developer for The Kroger Company. He joined BDPA Cincinnati chapter in 2002 as a volunteer for weekend technology training provided to local high school students. He took the leadership role in the annual BDPA Midwest Regional conferences held in Cincinnati, OH from 2003-2007. He was elected by the membership to serve as the chapter’s VP-Finance from 2006-2010. Steve has won a number of awards with BDPA, including Member of the Year, Executive Officer of the Year and a Community Service Award.

Steve was recently appointed to serve as BDPA Cincinnati chapter's VP-Strategy & Planning. He shared his thoughts as part of our Take Five interview series.

Steve Gutter
  1. How did you get involved with BDPA? - I became involved with BDPA in 2002 when one of the senior IT people at my company asked for volunteers from the IT sector to help with the Saturday High School Computer Camp. I am a big believer in helping other people to learn, so I volunteered to help. At the first week a class, there was a very stirring presentation given to the parents and to the students by Wayne Hicks. Wayne outlined very specifically what was expected from the students and their parents, and what the students and their parents could expect to receive the program in return: a mini-memorandum of understanding (MOU). The excitement and devotion I could sense in the classroom that day from speaking with the other volunteers made me realize that this was definitely an organization I wanted to be part of.
  2. What do you see as the biggest benefit of your BDPA membership? - I’m going to have to go with a tie for two on this one.
    • First, the satisfaction of helping other people learn. I still remember to this day the wonderful feeling I received from a young student when I was teaching how to use radio buttons on forms. She was having trouble with forms in general, and had to work at it a lot more than the other students. She student called me over for what I thought was another of a long line of questions I’d already (patiently) answered. Instead, it was to show me how the form she had made had radio buttons working exactly as per the class instructions: the smile on her face and the feeling of achievement in her voice: priceless!
    • Second, the chances to learn from various leadership roles. I’ve had two leadership roles so far (in charge of the Midwest Regional and VP-Finance), and I’m now embarking on VP-Strategy & Planning. My career has mainly been a programmer, with some stints in Management positions. These opportunities in BDPA have shown me how I can do things I thought I couldn’t do, how to work with people to get things done, and the inter-personal skills needed to work as a team to accomplish goals.
  3. What future evolution or change would you like to see in BDPA? - I would like to see the National competition run like a true business: one project leader and four developers, with each having a work station instead of sharing one work station. The current approach is probably meant to teach team development, but it is so unnatural that it defeats the purpose from the start. To truly teach team development, you need all five people having the ability to do the same thing at the same time: the challenge is to organize those skills so that you are accomplishing five work-hours per hour, not just one.
  4. What would you like Corporate America to know about BDPA? - Corporate America needs to know that BDPA works with students at all skill levels: as long as the student has the desire to learn, that is the key ingredient to being successful. When we selected the individuals for the National competition team, it was not necessarily always the five with the best skills: the first choice was often who showed the most dedication and perseverance. Of course, skills are important, but what is most needed are students willing to go the extra mile to get things done.
  5. Any advice for people considering a donation to BETF? - The BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) has a truly noble objective: helping minority students advance in the IT industry. There is no lack of volunteers: the problem is a lack of money to help achieve this goal. The IT industry is once again booming, more than in the ‘DOT COM’ boom years, and this is the time for minority students to make their mark. As with most endeavors, the plain physical reality is that it will take donations to achieve this goal in order for the proper training tools and competitions to be made possible.

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) seeks to increase the number of people that are making donations to support BDPA programs and services. We figure that it helps to hear about BDPA from some of our leaders around the nation.

Steve shared some insights. Please feel free to reply to this blog post if you have any reaction to what's been said in this Take Five interview. Or you can follow Steve's suggestion and make an online donation to support college scholarships for students trained by BDPA Cincinnati chapter.

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