A personal view, by Neil Truby
I have served the IIUG Board since my election to it in August 2002. During this time I have spent many, many man-weeks on IIUG business, and on behalf of the IIUG have visited Anaheim, CA, USA; London UK (not such a wrench, as I live just 10 miles away!); Warwick, UK; Washington DC, USA; Key Largo, FL, USA; Munich, Germany; San Francisco, CA, USA; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Madrid, Spain and Toronto, Canada.
In some ways, all this travel and general involvement has become a way of life of being a member of the IIUG Board of Directors. My family are pretty sanguine about it, but it has occasionally caused my work colleagues to ask if I have my priorities right! There are a constant series of deadlines – my particular responsibilities on the board have been non-US conferences; EMEA local user groups; IBM “loyalty”; “monitoring” of comp.databases.informix to feed back “real” peoples’ opinions of Informix issues, and assisting IIUG Insider Editor Jean-Georges Perrin. I’ve spent many hours in person, by email and on Instant Messaging promoting the IIUG, and as past Board member and President Fred Hubbard also observed, I recently realised that I have little or no leisurewear lacking an IIUG, Informix or IBM logo!
IIUG has given me the opportunity to meet many Informix users, partners and IBM executives, and has been deeply personally (if not necessarily professionally) rewarding as a result. I really have met some great people: I’ve been able to speak to users from every conceivable industry and understand their particular issues; I’ve spoken to many ISVs and IBM resellers and understood first-hand the satisfaction they have of selling Informix-based solutions, and the challenges that they sometime meet; I’ve met some top IBM execs responsible for the strategies and programmes that so affect Informix, and heard from them the issues, challenges and pressures that they face. It is without doubt, absolutely fascinating.
Typical day?: Dominated by email. Daily, up to a dozen – more if a raw nerve has recently been touched! – e-mail messages are broadcast to the Board alias. Special responsibilities as outlined above might add another 20 messages or so. These missives are central to IIUG’s business discourse. After all, we are more than anything else a communications organisation that links Informix users worldwide. Granted, all 12 of we Board members have an opinion – often influenced by status (User; IBM partner; IBM employee etc) and geography – and not always (or even very often!) the same one. Sometimes it gets a bit detailed, maybe a bit personal, and it’s a wise man or woman who can step back to view the wood from the trees. But e-mail allows us to conduct our business asynchronously and inexpensively, permits at least a few seconds’ calming forethought, and fellow Board members are generally respectful and polite, and always well-meaning. We’re all working towards the same goal: a thriving Informix community worldwide.
There are also phone commitments: we have a Board call at least once a month. Often I’ll speak to Board members in addition to the calls on particular subjects. As mentioned above I am also on the IBM “loyalty” team: this involves participating in tele-conference discussions with IBM executives on issues that affect Informix users’ reactions towards various initiatives, and indeed to IBM’s plans for Informix as a whole. Sometimes I’ll also attend local user group meetings on behalf of the IIUG board, and indeed man a stand at the IIUG stand at an IBM EMEA conference.
There is actually work to do too. For example, the IIUG Insider and the IIUG website are managed and given content by Board members. We all take on projects, from running the Nominating Committee, to implementing and maintaining special interest groups. As the IIUG’s renown has grown, and its initially wary relationship with IBM developed, we also troubleshoot constantly.
We need to be sensitve to the diversity of the IIUG community. The mother tongue for most IIUG Board members is English (or American :)), and even board members Gary Ben-Israel, Jean-Georges Perrin and Mark Isseponi for whom this is not true are more than competent in English. But for many members English is not a comfortable language. As Fred has said, “We are consultants; line DBAs; and software developers. We work for large and small companies. Live in various countries around the world. Are married and single, young and mature, religious and secular. We look like the community were present, and this is a great asset and experience.”
In summary, being an IIUG Board member is great if you have the passion, patience, dedication and knack to give. Like any volunteer organisation, you either love doing it, or you just don’t do it at all. Typically it attracts those who are already over-committed and know how to extract more value out of multitasking. IIUG would not be what it is today if those serving on its Board had not enjoyed the ride. On balance, it’s been a wonderful experience.