Tag Archives: Community

Interview with Nikola Pejkova – Technical Analyst & Community Manager @Veeam

For those of you who know or follow me, I’m delighted to be part of the Veeam Vanguard program, created to bring together some of the top individuals focused on technology and yes, the Veeam ecosystem to help guide Veeam with feedback and perspective.

But to be honest, for me it’s just a fantastic group of individuals who are experts in their various fields. They will bend over backwards to help and support you, and we all love to learn and share with the community. If you are involved with Veeam products in any way in your daily life/job role, I highly recommend you look into the program and apply if you feel like it suits you.


Moving onto this blog post, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Nikola Pejkova (twitter) from Veeam, Technical Analyst and Community Manager. Nikola has been the driving force behind the Veeam Vanguard program and events for the past few years.

So, let’s dive in!

Nikola, tell us a bit about yourself, and what led to you taking the role as the community manager for Veeam.

Thanks for having me, Dean! I live in Prague, beautiful capital of Czech Republic where Veeam have its offices. I’ve been working in IT industry for more than 6 years now and I’ve experienced different roles in corporates as well as in startups. This mix of experiences have been probably the right fit when Veeam was searching for a community manager and I’ve been searching for a role where I can build something valuable and long-term.

It's safe to say Nikola has made her mark working for Veeam
It’s safe to say Nikola joined Veeam with the goal of making her mark at the company and in the technology industry. And I think many will agree, she is doing just that.

So, the Veeam Vanguard community manager role was the perfect match! I’ve been impressed by Veeam’s history, maintenance, and development of their own software products and also the culture that is so far from the experience I gained in other worldwide corporate companies.  

Please can you define what community means to you? And what goals you had coming into this role?

Community is something like a secondary family when it’s treated in a good way. There are many kinds of communities out there, but specially in case of IT ones, they’re kind of a special case. As they are uniting literally people from all the world, they are incredibly diverse and let us overcome the physical distance through technologies we got available those days.

Nikola meeting Vanny the Veeam Vanguard mascot
Nikola meeting Vanny the Veeam Vanguard mascot

Power of the community comes from its members, who can share together their experiences, have conversations about issues they’re solving at the moment or just support each other in hard times. Another crucial role in the community success is having the company that has to offer not just great products, but also continuous and various ways of engagement that keep the community live and up-to-date with all the innovations that are coming so fast nowadays! It’s like a group of friends who are having the same passion, in our case,  saving and protecting the data with products that just work.  

What makes an excellent community program versus just a good community program?

In my opinion there’s a crucial management of the community that needs to be done in a way that members understand the purpose of being part of the community, what benefits they are getting from interactions with others and what is the added value that they take out of being a part of any community.

Since COVID, one of the regular weekly get togethers in the calendar is the Veeam Vanguard Social call.
Since COVID, one of the regular weekly get-together in the calendar is the Veeam Vanguard Social call.

I’d say that difference between excellent and just a good community program is a passion of its members – when the community program is managed in a great way, members are happy, passionate, willing to participate and do extra steps for the community. When you got an average one, it can fulfill its purpose as a platform for social interactions and sharing experiences, but members won’t be so proactive to dedicate their own time out for the community. 

Are there areas from other community programs you are looking to replicate or even avoid? Which activities to you think have lost their shine?

What I’d like to generally avoid is taking the community members as “anonymous” numbers without any personal touch. What is incredible on Veeam Vanguard community is that we know each other not just by name, in most cases also personally. We do care about Vanguards as a group of unique and very special and talented individuals, which I’d love to keep for the future, as it’s one of the aspects that differentiate our community from others. 

What’s been the highlights so far leading the community programs at Veeam?

It’s hard to name just few of them, but for sure the highlight has been Vanguard Summit in Prague last October, where we met all together – Veeam Product Strategy team accompanied also with members of R&D team was spending almost the week in Prague together with Vanguards from all over the world to share latest product updates, which was super fun and we all had incredible time!

Addressing the Veeam Vanguard members at the annual summit in Prague, Nikolas home city.
Addressing the Veeam Vanguard members at the annual summit in Prague, Nikolas home city. (L-R, David Hill, Nikola Pejkova, Andrew Zhelezko, Kirsten Stoner, Karinne Bessette)

Also presenting about the Vanguard program during VMworld in Barcelona last fall was incredible experience. And I cannot forget how proud I was when so many Vanguards were answering during VeeamON Virtual in Expert Lounge to attendees from across the globe or participated on presentations with other Veeamers during VeeamON this year. Generally, the biggest highlight for me is to see the passion that Vanguards have towards Veeam products and willingness to constantly helping improve them. 

You are launching a new program, the Veeam Legends program, can you tell me about the process behind getting this ready for release to the public? 

Well, there were a lot of thoughts and efforts behind this project! First, we wanted to foster even deeper engagement that rewards our customers and partners for the role they have played in our success. We also wanted to introduce a new tier in our community program enabling some of our most active community participants to be recognized as leaders in the data protection community through content creation and user group and event participation.

Second, we wanted to keep conversation going and to provide users with a single place where they can share best practices, participate in virtual Veeam User Groups, grow as a Veeam pro by completing free, on-demand training through Veeam University and have fun by recognition and rewards.

That’s how we launched Veeam Community Resource Hub and Veeam Legends, the new community programs!

Veeam Legends part of the interview

Diversity and inclusion have become a recent focal topic in the 2020 climate, what is Veeam doing around this?

Veeam is very proactive when it comes to inclusion and equal opportunities. There are various initiatives inside the company that everybody can join, we also have an option to be active inside our local communities as volunteers. As Veeam is a global company with offices across the world, diversity is one of the key values as well as respect to others. 

And as a woman in the technology industry, what do you think of the state of D&I in technology today? And what barriers do we need to overcome?

Since time I’ve started to work in IT industry, I can see growing number of women not just in leading managerial roles, but also in development, graphics, and analytics, which is great!

Presenting at VMworld 2019 on the vBrownbag stage, encouraging others to be part of the Veeam communities
Presenting at VMworld 2019 on the vBrownbag stage, encouraging others to be part of the Veeam communities

I don’t see any reason why IT should be just for men, but I believe that it’s kind of stigmatised from the past that those technical areas are for men and others for women. I believe that we’ve overcome this as a society and much more girls are applying now to technical fields in universities, so I am expecting continual growth of numbers of girls in the IT. Also, for the reason that technologies are everywhere today, so younger generation is growing surrounded by all this since they were born, and It feels generally much more natural for them to be in contact with all the technology that is new for previous generations. 

Obviously with the current global pandemic we find ourselves suffering some disruption in our lives, but looking towards the rest of 2020 and into 2021, what personal goals and plans do you have?

After being locked due to COVID quarantine over 4 months in Canarias, my main goal to get home was fortunately finally met 😊.

Nikola returning home during covid.

Regarding the current travel restrictions and turning the world as we knew it before upside down, I’m thinking about some minivan reconstruction to rebuild it into the house on 4 wheels. We are having unlimited number of beautiful spots to visit in Czech Republic and surrounding countries, so having the van and independence to go anywhere I want gives me enough satisfaction. And finally put together my home office, as I think I might be seeing it a little more often!

Wrapping up

Dean here again.

I’d like to thank Nikola for agreeing to be interviewed. Working as a community manager in the technology industry is a unique challenge. It’s more than running events and asking customers/partners/advocates to help promote your brand. There are many community programs out there, but not all are successful, and it’s a fine line in getting it right.

It’s taken me a while to finalise this article and writing during a tumultuous year has been interesting. Since Nikola and I first exchanged messages on this blog post, so much has changed worldwide.

Hopefully in the future when we find ourselves to travel, myself and Nikola will be able to sit down and conduct a follow up interview, we can review this time, and how the community has changed during this time.

Regards

Interview – Ian Sanderson talks community and career growth

The last interview I wrote up was back in 2017, although I’ve made efforts to kick off a continuation of this series, I stalled. I recently went over some of the past interviews and its amazing how in 18 month or so, people’s careers and focuses have changed, never mind the IT industry.

So kicking off the first interview of 2019, I reached out to my friend Ian Sanderson. Ian has 15 years of IT experience under his belt, taking the usual route into the IT industry, “I cut my teeth in the virtualisation world with Hyper-V in 2008, but my focus has been VMware since 2010”, he tells me as we kick off discussing “Ian in his own words.”

Ian and myself became friends and comrades with similar interests due to our activity in the IT community, interactions on twitter soon turned into bumping into one another at events, and catching up over coffee, and late night drinks at vendor community programs.

I ask Ian to define what the IT community means to him, “Community to me is like having an extended family of people who you can bounce ideas off, or call upon for help with other things” he says, “It is not a one way street though. I try my best to give back to people in any way I can help out. It’s really about comradery & helping each other achieve their end goals.”

“The wealth of collective knowledge in the vCommunity honestly amazes me. There is always someone, somewhere who has the solution to a problem you may have.”

So where did it all start for Ian? “My first real interactions with the community kicked off when I became a Veeam Vanguard in 2016. Prior to that I had the odd interaction on twitter and an outdated blog but nothing really significant. Being virtually air dropped into a group of like-minded people who love Veeam really sparked my passion for getting more involved in community events.”

I’m not shocked to find this answer pretty much echos similar answers to others in the IT community. Small steps into twitter; invites to slack groups; and a sense of needing to give back to the community we have all taken so much from. (We’ve all googled for an answer, and ended up at someones personal blog post, finding they have fixed the same issue).

Career progression

It’s no secret that a lot of ambitious IT folk have gone on to do very well in their perspective areas boosted by their work/activity in the IT community. There’s no secret group or handshakes, just purely hard work, a love of technology, and mostly a friendly atmosphere, as Ian equates earlier “Its really about comradery and helping each other achieve their end goals.” Continue reading Interview – Ian Sanderson talks community and career growth

Interview – Matt Crape – Community Blogger & IT Manager

In the second interview, Matt Crape of 42u.ca a blog around everything IT, is the person answering the questions. I’d personally been following Matt after his website went live and had the fortune of spending some time with him in London as part of the Veeam Vanguard program.

(Matt is the guy on the right, seen here undertaking a vBrownbag Meet the Expert chat)

So Matt, you’ve made a big impact on the community in a short time, congrats, but tell us a bit about yourself?
Thanks for that compliment 🙂 I’m an IT Manager by day at an SMB in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, in Canada. I do all the typical managerial stuff like budgets, handling vendor contracts, personnel, etc. But, I also try to stay somewhat technical. I still find myself routinely tinkering around in vSphere, maybe some networking, or just looking at things from a higher level (e.g. reviewing backup and disaster recovery plans).
Outside of my day job, I’m also a first-time vExpert for 2016, a Veeam Vanguard, and I run my own local Veeam User Group. I’m somewhat active on Twitter (@MattThatITGuy), and when 140 characters aren’t enough, you can find a selection of my ramblings at 42u.ca.
What is the biggest challenge you have in your job day to day at the moment?

Continue reading Interview – Matt Crape – Community Blogger & IT Manager