IAUG 2015 Service Excellence Award Given to Avaya’s Debbie Smith-Handley

For her service “above and beyond the call of duty,” Avaya account manager Debbie Smith-Handley was honored with IAUG’s Service Excellence Award on Tuesday at IAUG CONVERGE2015 in Denver.

“We thank you for your many contributions to support our members,” said Jayne Hogle, IAUG conference committee planning chair, in presenting the award to Smith-Handley. The Service Excellence Award is given each year to an outstanding employee of Avaya or an Avaya partner/IAUG member company in recognition of providing exceptional service to IAUG members.

Christine Conner, IT systems analyst consultant at Progressive Insurance, nominated Smith-Handley for the service excellence award.

“Debbie is an incredible account manager,” Conner said. “This past year we completed a multi-year contact center initiative and Debbie’s dedication to the successful completion of this project was a huge factor in our success. She has been incredible in navigating the complex processes and organizational challenges to make things happen for us.”

At the same conference session, Hogle presented the 2015 President’s Award to Alex Morales, IS operations manager at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Morales serves on the leadership team for the New York Metropolitan Chapter and as a member of the IAUG Data Networking Council. Under his leadership, the New York chapter has grown to become the largest in the country.

IAUG also recognized the late Tina Gjerdset, an active IAUG volunteer with a passion for education and development prior, by creating The Tina Gjerdset Education Award for its annual educational package from Global Knowledge.

“We miss Tina’s passion and commitment, as we recognize an IAUG member who shares those beliefs,” said Hogle.

This year’s education award recipient was Conner, who is chair of the IAUG Customer Experience Management Council and Northeast Ohio Chapter leader.

“A big thank you to Global Knowledge for providing this package, and to all our volunteers for their dedication to our association,” said Hogle.

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Join Us in Vegas for the Best Dice Roll Ever! #AvayaENGAGE 2017

There was a time when a handshake meant more than a text, when being in the same room meant more than an email. While advancements in communication have made our ability to interact easier, I believe in-person events are still a unique, positive and necessary way to connect with people.

Over the past several months, we’ve been hard at work bringing our Avaya customer and partner events under one umbrella. Our collective efforts will result in the consolidation of the Avaya Technology Forum, International Avaya Users Group and Executive Partner Forum into the single largest gathering of Avaya users everywhere: Better Together: Avaya ENGAGE 2017. This flagship experience—the only big top event we’ll host in 2017—will let us connect deeply with customers. We’ll start meaningful conversations, communicate with empathy and understanding, and respond to their needs with unique and personalized solutions. (Read my recent blog on the importance of personalization in delivering amazing customer experiences.) I can assure you that these types of impactful, memorable and emotional connections cannot be accomplished in 140 characters or less!

When customers join us this February in Las Vegas—the entertainment capital of the world—they’ll be introduced to a thoughtfully constructed agenda designed to engage, enlighten and empower them to tackle real-world business challenges. But they won’t go through the week alone. Our business leaders and subject matter experts will be on hand to humanize their experiences and guide them through their customer journey every step of the way.

With compelling keynotes from our executive team and close to 100 conference workshops, opportunities to expand knowledge, sharpen skills, and hear best practices from Avaya experts, industry visionaries, partners, and business communication peers will be around every corner.

To give you a taste of what to expect, take a look at some of our keynotes out of #AvayaENGAGE Dubai.

More Than 2,000 Customers Can’t Be Wrong!

#AvayaENGAGE is the definitive Avaya training event. And with the timing of this event now taking place earlier in the year, you can bet there will be more than a few surprises, which means you’ll be at the heart of emerging conversations and discussions with key players in our Avaya ecosystem.

I’m personally looking forward to this event, and I hope you’ll join me in Las Vegas, February 12-15. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my career (and I’ve learned quite a few) is when we partner closely together with our customers and partners, we emerge better and stronger. I expect that outcome from #AvayaENGAGE.

Advance Your Career—Put the “You” in IAUG

Paula Brown Hackett
Paula Brown Hackett is a member of IAUG and a Senior IT Manager, Enterprise Networks for McMaster University.

Whether it’s at Avaya ENGAGE, a local IAUG meeting, or online, there are always opportunities to network with IAUG members who share similar experiences and business challenges. For example, at Avaya ENGAGE, attendees come from all over the world, which provides a global perspective on the same experiences and promotes collaboration and empowerment among our members. Members like me are always happy to share our learnings and success stories at IAUG chapter meetings, Avaya ENGAGE, and online.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my time as a member of IAUG—the International Avaya Users Group—it’s that there so many opportunities for growth. Members hone their leadership and presentation skills by presenting at chapter meetings and larger conferences such as the upcoming February 2017 Avaya ENGAGE. You can exchange stories and share tips formally or informally with a large audience or a small group. Participating on the IAUG board also helps to prepare members for future leadership positions and career advancement. These experiences boost their profiles within their companies, which can lead to opportunities for advancement.

One of the most anticipated benefits of membership is Avaya ENGAGE. This is not just a conference for IAUG members. Many Avaya employees, customers and partners also attend to learn about the latest Avaya products, solutions, and news. It’s a unique opportunity to gain information and connect with technical minds, and share ideas with Avaya senior executives about how to make Avaya products work even better for all.

Whether it’s to network with other Avaya users around the world, or just stay on top of the latest product developments—and maybe even have a hand in promoting new and needed improvements, IAUG can help. Come join IAUG, and don’t forget to meet us at Avaya ENGAGE in February 2017 to see for yourself what IAUG members are doing to stay current and advance their careers.


Avaya and IAUG: Coming Together for a Better User Group Experience

Marilyn ShuckMarilyn Shuck serves as a Director on the IAUG Board, president of the Puget Sound Avaya Users Group, and as a UC Engineer at the University of Washington.



The combination of the Avaya Technology Forum (ATF) and the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) flagship event, Avaya ENGAGE, is generating a lot of buzz. As IAUG members, it’s exciting for us because we’ll be there as Avaya is announcing new products and have better access to Avaya. We’re also looking forward to bringing in more technical expertise, session choice, and potential new members to IAUG.

In the past, ATF was held in February or March, and Avaya ENGAGE was in June. By the time we assembled for Avaya ENGAGE, new product lines would have been out for several months. Now, we’ll get to hear the latest announcements. Since we’re partnering with Avaya, we’ll have much more access to them, getting our questions answered, getting trained, and seeing the new products in action.

We’re also able to offer so many more sessions, some with more technical expertise. ATF has historically been a technical conference, and our IAUG attendees will have a choice of breakout sessions that will add a new dimension to the education they’ll already be receiving.

It also makes sense to hold both of these events under one umbrella. There’s some overlap between ATF attendees and Avaya ENGAGE attendees, and in organizations where travel budgets are tight or where the same person is a technical support specialist and a user, you no longer have to choose which event to attend.

Additionally, we’re excited about the possibility of introducing new members to IAUG. Some ATF attendees may not have known about our existence, but now not only will they have the chance to learn more about us but they can network with us. We can continue to share learning opportunities and even bring a whole new quality of technical users to IAUG.

Make no mistake, the foundation of the event has not changed. This is still planned with the Avaya customer in mind. However, it signals our deepening relationship by aligning all customer events.

This is going to be one of those cases where what happens in Las Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. Avaya and IAUG are aligning, and it’s going to provide valuable education and opportunities for customers, IAUG members, partners, and Avaya. The benefits of attending will resonate throughout your organization, so plan to join us in February to learn, network, and return full of ways to make the most of your Avaya implementations. You can learn more at http://engage.iaug.org.