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4 min read

Social CIO Series: Baz Abouelenein, Kansas City Kansas Community College

“Social media is here to stay so embrace social media and put people before hardware and software!”

“Social media is here to stay so embrace social media and put people before hardware and software!”

Name: Dr Baz Abouelenein
Title: Dean of Information Services / CIO
Organization: Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC)

 

1. Tell us a bit about your organization and what it is trying to accomplish.

Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) is a public, urban, and comprehensive community college committed to excellence in higher education. The college was founded in 1923 as part of the Public School System of Kansas City, Kansas. Our mission is to advance the lifelong educational needs of students by providing high-quality, post-secondary, and career-focused educational programs that are academically and financially accessible. We pride ourselves on our commitment and first-in-class service to our students.

2. Tell us a bit about you and how you view your role as CIO.

I was born in Egypt and ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with computers. You could say it was my passion and purpose. When my dad gave me a computer for graduating with honors from high school, I felt like I was in heaven. I mastered DOS, Windows and few programming languages such as Pascal, C, C++, and Assembly to name a few. I used to spend 16 to 18 hours on the computer every day. From that point on, everything fell into place and my world revolved around computing. I was lucky to find what I loved to do early in life.

“When I became the CIO, I realized that I interact with people more than hardware and software.”

It was uncharted territory for me and I had to work hard to learn the art of winning friends and influencing people. As a CIO, I work with my teams to plan and direct progressive and innovative technology units that assist organizations, such as KCKCC, in providing quality services to stakeholders. My greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that I have made a real difference in my organization by helping set a high standard of excellence in achieving organizational objectives through leveraging appropriate systems and technology.

3. What were the key reasons you started to drive social into your organization?

I think one of the most profound factors that prompted me to explore social media is the social stigma that almost all IT professionals, including CIOs, are introverts and prefer to interact with computers rather than people. I wanted to change that! I thought that social media would help me hang with the best technology influencers in the world and form new connections with users both inside and outside KCKCC. Like many first-timers, I was unsure what to do to get on the bandwagon of social media. So I decided to establish presence on Twitter and discuss topics of interest, opportunities and challenges, from both individual and professional perspectives. Twitter has become a vitally important platform to disseminate and discuss IT operations and plans. It helps me personally stay current with the latest trends and thinking. It's very exciting to now see a growing interest and demand for learning and understanding Social Media among later adopters at KCKCC, especially those who directly interact with our students.

4. How did the arrival of social interplay with your organization's culture?

I think when social media was first introduced into organizations, no one imagined that such platform could impact the internal structure of an organization. Everyone realized later that its powerful impact can go well beyond businesses and can extend to the political world. It is remarkable what happened in Egypt when an organized movement on a social media network, specifically Facebook, ousted former president Hosni Mubarak after 18 days of public demonstration. Executive leadership and politicians thought of social media only as a mean to communicate to customers and citizens. KCKCC has always been adept in listening to the voice of the communities we serve. What social media brought to KCKCC is the recognition of the importance of the channels that facilitate a dynamic form one-on-one connection between KCKCC and each individual in the community rather than the community as a whole.

5. How did you mitigate the change management aspects of introducing social?

Keeping in mind the wide reach that social media has and the uncensored platform it offers to interact with humans across the globe, it is important to be cognizant of the different types of risks it brings for organizations, in general, and academic institutions, in particular. Our experience at KCKCC is not different from that of other organizations that have been compelled to work their way into social media networks. I think for any social media movement to be successful, organizations must define protocols and ground rules for utilizing social media. That is exactly what we did at KCKCC. We created a strong social media policy that lucidly describes what is appropriate and what is not. We also offered training sessions to help interested users develop social media skills. Through these sessions, we encouraged newcomers to the world of social media to join and create communities that emphasize and promote the services offered by the institution. I think it is of paramount importance to have policies and guidelines in place to guide and educate employees and their employers about social media best practices.

6. What do you see as your biggest social "win" so far, inside your organization?

My presence on social media branded me as a resource and as a thought leader on the Internet. It is humbling and exciting to become the go-to person and a voice that people trust in my industry and among my colleagues at KCKCC.

7. What is your advice to traditional CIO's that are leery of "going social"? Any important lessons learned you would like to share?

Social media is here to stay so embrace social media and put people before hardware and software!

About Jostle's CIO Series

At Jostle we recognize the importance of leadership in making social collaboration work inside of organizations. In fact, we are so passionate about it that we sought out some of the top social CIO’s in North America to participate in a Jostle Blog series that focuses on the challenges and successes of applying social tools. We are happy to share these success stories with you and we hope it inspires the social champion in all of you. If you know a Social CIO you feel should be included in this series, please contact us at CIO@jostle.me. There is no requirement that they be using the Jostle People Engagement® platform.

About KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College is a public, urban, open-door, and comprehensive community college committed to excellence in higher education. Through an accessible and supportive learning environment, the college mission is to provide higher education and lifelong learning to the varied communities, primarily in its service area of Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties.

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