VentureTech Network’s four presidents

Rob Bracey, Jim Veraldi, JoeAnne Hardy and Greg Starr

New VTN Council co-presidents Rob Bracey and Jim Veraldi (top), and outgoing co-presidents JoeAnne Hardy and Greg Starr.

JoeAnne Hardy has but one request for this article.

“Don’t talk about this as a changing of the guard,” she requests as I sit down with her and her fellow outgoing VentureTech Council co-president Greg Starr of Texarkana, Tex.-based I.T. Works, as well as the incoming co-presidents, Rob Bracey of Toronto-basd Quartet Services and Jim Veraldi or Denville, N.J.’s Micro Strategies.

And her point is well taken. Unlike the “changing of the guard” that took place last time there was a shift in the VentureTech Network Council, the council it currently seeing a gradual transition, with Hardy and Starr working with Bracey and Veraldi for months, and planning to stick around another year on the council.

But still, there is a shift in the council – and not just because of new co-president of the council. Bracey and Veraldi arrive at a time when Ingram Micro is increasingly letting the council and the rest of the community determine the direction and destiny of VentureTech.

“My number one goal is to not screw up the momentum we’ve got so far,” Bracey says with a laugh before turning more serious.

“There are two things we’re really like to accomplish – getting a little more backbone in the organization through corporate governance, and continuing to develop the programs we’ve just launched – VentureTech Connect, business intelligence and our vendor incentives.”

For Veraldi, the priority is driving the VentureTech brand and identity deeper into member organizations, expanding the number of “ambassadors” the reseller community has out in the marketplace. It’s about balancing those who have served on the council for the group with fresh ideas from those who have not yet done so.

It’s part of a larger transformation Starr describes in the role the VTN Council plays. “It’s a Working Council. It has an ‘Advisory’ tag to it, but I don’t like that,” he said. “This is an Action Council.”

Hardy and Starr shy away from credit for the growth of the community, saying the progress have been the work of the council and the rest of the community. Still, there are some accomplishments that both co-presidents will fondly remember.

“I’ve always said my hope, my vision for VTN is that it become absolutely critical for member organizations, to provide something they can’t get anywhere else, and we’ve gotten closer that with VTN Connect, Mastermind, all the training,” the said. And she’s looking forward to taking a seat a few rows back for a change.

“I’m going to be just as engaged, but I’m not going to have to do as many e-mails,” she said. “It’s fabulous.”

Starr said that over the last three years “the council has really gelled” and got to a point where the focus was on the community as a whole rather than the parts that make it up. The group has also seen a change in how vendors interact with VTN. Whereas before, vendors got involved at a national level, Starr said many are not engage all the way down to a chapter level. “That’s driving more benefits for the members and more benefits to them” he said.

Still, while the outgoing co-presidents avoid credit for their roles in the evolution, the new co-presidents are very cognizant of it. Veraldi said one of the big reasons he agreed to taking Starr’s place as the U.S. side of the co-presidency is because “we’ll have JoeAnne and Greg as our DR site.”

As for the size of the group, Veraldi said it’s not a case of bigger meaning better, but that the council will look for ways to drive the VentureTech message deeper into the organizations, both in the regional groups and special interest groups that are yet to be formed, bringing together partners from different geographies but with similar focuses.

But Bracey, he’s got other ideas for VTN’s priorities.

“We should take more of a golf focus, I think,” he says with a laugh.