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Q&A with Brian Hansen

BICSI's incoming president says organization must tap into 'NxtGEN generation'


November 1, 2009  


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LAS VEGAS The incoming president of BICSI says it is critical that the existing board and membership “reach out” and mentor young men and women who will soon graduate from technical colleges or are new to the information transport systems sector.

“This is extremely important,” Brian Hansen told CNS in an interview at the recent BICSI Fall Conference in Las Vegas. “When we started the Inverted Funnel Process four years ago, it became obvious very quickly that we would have to change. Our credentials, our specialties had leveled out prior to that and we were starting to trend down.”

Conducted by a group of BICSI staff and volunteers, the IFP was an internal study that later morphed into the NxtGEN initiative.

“We have to tap into the NxtGEN generation the young millenials,” said Hansen, who takes over from outgoing president Ed Donelan early next year. “We currently average over 40, which is pretty old.”

A Specification Engineer with Leviton Manufacturing Co.’s network infrastructure division, Hansen addressed a number of issues during the course of the interview. An edited version of the Q&A appears below:

CNS: What are your primary goals for the next two years?

Hansen: We live in a technology era. Everyone admits that there are other technology opportunities that we could be using.

We have to make things easier for our members when it comes to educational training and content without having to travel extensively to get things done. You are going to see some things put into play that will tap into those technology resources to make it easier. It will bring a new dimension to BICSI.

CNS: As an organization, how has BICSI handled the economic downturn?

Hansen: The economy has impacted us as much as it has everyone else out there especially from a conference standpoint. It really started about this time last year. When we came here last year, 28 exhibitors backed out at the last minute, which has never happened before. That’s because they reshuffled their budgets they had to.

We haven’t taken as big a hit as some of the other trade shows and conferences in North America at least. They are running at around 3035% attrition rate and we have been around 2025%.

CNS: Do you see light at the end of the tunnel?

Hansen: I am seeing it from a business perspective outside of BICSI. We are starting to see money being released, projects started again that were put on hold. It will be interesting to see how the fourth quarter shakes out because traditionally in our arena, it has a tendency to drop off and be quiet. But because it’s been so quiet, I’m hoping the fourth quarter will continue to grow instead of level off or drop off. It would be nice to see that happen. I wish I had a crystal ball.

CNS: What about the whole cost benefit side of BICSI? Clearly, in order to continue to build the number of members you have to provide value. Are you satisfied with what BICSI provides right now?

Hansen: Satisfied is a unique word. Are you ever truly satisfied completely with where you are at? I would say I’m pleased with where we are at, but I believe there is a lot more we can do.

As an example, we came out with a great corporate membership benefit package this year and there are some other member benefits you will see in 2010.

CNS: How would you describe your management style?

Hansen: I am not a micro manager nor do I want to be. I believe we have good people and processes in place and you should allow them to do their jobs. That said, I want to make sure they are staying focused in their key areas and on task.

We have a lot of open dialogue with John Clark (executivedirector and CEO of BICSI) and I will continue that. It’s healthy and keeps us abreast of what is going on internally and externally.

I like to be transparent not only with staff and with John, but also with the board and the committees.

I don’t see any reason to hide anything. I want to make sure we are very open in the same way we have been with NxtGEN and the membership.