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SIM Leadership Spotlight - March 2017

"Leadership Spotlight" includes interviews with Chapter Presidents, SIM Board members, Management Council members and other SIM leaders.  "Leadership Spotlight" will not only highlight SIM’s leadership and chapters,  but it will offer insight from our leaders on topics, trends and issues facing the Society, our chapters and the IT industry.


An archive of interviews will be found HERE.



March 2017
Name: Allen Look
SIM Role: SIM Albany Chapter President


Question 1  |  Question 2  |  Question 3  |  Question 4  | Question 5

1. Please provide an overview of the SIM Albany chapter.
The Albany Chapter of SIM was founded in 2014 in the back room of a restaurant by a small group of committed IT leaders from the healthcare, manufacturing, utility, and pharmaceutical industries. From those somewhat humble beginnings the membership rapidly grew, and with the retention rate you would expect it fluctuates between 45-55 current members. As with any chapter, there is a core of about a dozen members active in administration, and about 25-30 members who frequently attend events. Each April the chapter hosts the Albany IT Symposium (, which has also grown rapidly and this year intends to host 200 or more attendees with keynotes and breakout sessions centered around the theme of “Building Resilient Organizations”.

2. What are your goals for your term as the President of the SIM Albany chapter?
Our early years were spent developing reasonable governance and the processes and tools to become a sustainable organization. We learned a lot about event planning, both for the symposium and for chapter meetings, and what attracted and retained members to the chapter overall. Now that I’m more comfortable with the organization’s future, I’m working on an agenda that aims to:

  • improve member engagement and attendance
  •  improve membership communication
  • engage new members from the education and government sectors
  • create new outreach initiatives for STEM
  • mature the chapter in terms of operations

3. What are the hottest trends in the industry? 
That’s a fantastic question. Our members come from many industries; healthcare, manufacturing, retail and more, and we soon hope to see members from education and government as well. If we canvased them today we’d get a wide range of responses from regulatory pressures to the Internet of Things. In speaking with other leaders, I can tell there’s a significant focus on establishing digital strategies and on working to become more influential in their respective organizations, regardless of industry. Likewise, with the current skills shortage there’s a pressure to implement processes and tools that are more automated and self-sufficient, along the lines of algorithms and analytics. The skills gap makes us even more committed to our STEM initiatives and whatever we can do to improve the knowledge base and opportunities in the Albany region.
4. What challenges is your chapter currently facing?
I wish I could say something unique, but the Albany chapter is the same as most others in that regard – our biggest challenge is engaging members and encouraging them to be involved with the chapter. We have a dedicated group attending events and a large population we hope to engage more effectively. Our Programs, Communications and Membership VPs do a great job coming up with compelling programs, interesting venues, and creative ways to reach out to our membership – mapping out the “touch points” and the channels we can use to increase mind share with our members and get them involved more frequently and more deeply with the chapter. Overall, there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience in the membership, and we want to engage those minds and create relationships that result in something greater than the sum of the parts.

5. What is the one piece of advice you will give the next President of the SIM Albany chapter? 
In my experience, leading a volunteer organization is very different from running a function in a corporate environment. With no reporting lines or formal organization, and perhaps only seeing each other face-to-face once a month, the need for influencing skills is paramount. Communicating clearly and frequently about goals and expectations is required, and getting broad buy-in on decisions is critical, lest people follow you only out of morbid curiosity!

An archive of interviews will be found HERE.


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