The winner of the CompTIA Industry Advisory Board Award for Leadership shares how his success is built on not being afraid to fail and learning from past mistakes. He is now using this experience to help other SMEs.

It is not often that the CEO claims that the most proud moment in his career is … failure. Failure? Hmm. But again, Juan Fernandez is not your usual business leader.

The Chief Executive Officer of Coalition for SME Growth and co-chair of CompTIA’s Channel Development Advisory Board helped build several companies and recently launched a new business to help medium-sized SMEs accelerate their success – all based on the mistakes it has made and the lessons it has learned. learned over the years.

Throughout this, Fernandez was also a strong supporter of CompTIA and its members, and for his outstanding service and commitment, he received the Industry Advisory Board Leadership Award 2022 at this year’s CompTIA Communities & Councils forum. Fernandez recently spoke with CompTIA to tell his story, including what is important to him and how other SMEs can learn from his experience to achieve their own success. Here is what he had to say:

Why is working on the Channel Development Advisory Board important to you and what are your goals?

“One of my greatest desires is to help enable others to be successful. In my travels I have seen many struggles between suppliers and partners. I wanted to be able to share some insights, and I felt it was important to get the voice of the host of the channel, not just the delivery party, which is mostly suppliers. This side of the story was not heard or considered. As an SME, we get a lot of what everyone thinks we want and need, and we just have to be ready to accept it, sit quietly and adapt to what we are told. I wanted to bring the voice of the unheard to the table. “

“I wanted to present the SME community to the world. It was really important to me. It is the same today. I remember thinking that I would be fired as soon as I joined, because I came in and said to myself, ‘This is what SMEs want. Start talking s channel partners and not to channel partners ”. But I did not do it and we all work together for the benefit of all. Our goal now is to enable the channel, to increase the components of cooperation. I work really hard to break down barriers. There is no reason not to all talk. The purpose of the council is to increase communication, internal and external, to learn how to interact with each other and to learn what the new movements are. We all have to provide for our clients’ clients. That’s the real goal, isn’t it? “

What challenges / trends do you want to attract more attention / awareness of in your role on the board?

“The challenge is that we talk to each other, but we don’t always want to share our intentions when it comes to customers. So the challenge is transparency. We must recognize that suppliers, distributors and SMEs must be profitable and break down the wall where we do not want to show our cards, but we want others to show us theirs. This is starting to dissolve. There is more transparency and choice of mutual strategy for entering the market. We had to overcome this during the pandemic, didn’t we? Everyone had the opportunity to say that I need you and you need me.

“We still need more awareness to get to a point where customers feel more confident and when we work together to support them and we all sing the same song. The customer knows he is paying for a solution. As long as they see success, we as a channel have a much more meaningful story. The last few pieces of content developed by the CDAC show this, such as the channel marketing book. It is a joint effort of the various members of the council to link the channel together to show that everything works from a united front. The next evolution we want to look at is what happens after a buyer’s trip. We develop an endless chain diagram of what happens after the end of the buyer’s journey, because it really doesn’t end there. There are tides between the supplier’s partner and the SME and there is this new world where we all need to focus on the continued success of our customers. That’s where the focus has shifted and where we need to go. “

How are you and the council working with CompTIA to address these issues and promote greater awareness?

“It’s really hard to turn big ships over. We are changing the traditional path to the market. We change sales, marketing and conversations. This is a heavy elevator. But this is also what the client requires. If you don’t, you will fight. I’ve seen suppliers and distributors try to bury their feet in the sand and not want to move their model, only to be shattered by investors asking “Why don’t we introduce ourselves. Why aren’t we gaining strength? They see that other companies are gaining a stake and it is those who engage with SMEs and resellers in different ways. They succeed with customers. So the light bulb goes out and companies that didn’t want to deviate from traditional routes are starting to realize they need to know. It’s wild to watch.

“This year, as we announce the next evolution of the buyer’s voyage, talking about best practices, we will start making noise about what needs to happen to get these ships turning. Providers who have not traditionally shared their information are suddenly sharing mechanisms for success that were previously turnkey. CompTIA was such a great place, with tips and communities, for people to communicate, stimulate community and promote awareness. We did it Tech Together, CompTIA ISAO and many others. CompTIA is a place where we can come and talk freely and not worry. But we are not just talking about problems – we are doing something about it. It’s not just a joke fest, it’s a place to come and make an impact. “

What are you most proud of in your career and what helped you get to where you are now?

“Failure. For most of my life, my success has been built on failure. In my presentation on the CompTIA Community and Advice Form, I said, “Failure is the pay we pay for success.” I needed that in my life. It is good to fail because you can learn and move on.

“In addition, I would say that a significant moment for me was when I helped write the new CompTIA A + certificate. And that’s because I remember how I felt when I failed A + in the beginning, not because I wasn’t good enough, but because I didn’t study hard enough. But my wife wouldn’t let me give up. I realized I had the ability, but I had to unlock the cheater inside me. And when I did, things started to happen. I am a first generation technologist, so being able to write A +, something I was afraid to accept and never thought I would pass, was a very serious achievement for me because I know it can change people’s lives. . I’m so excited about that. “

What advice do you have for SMEs and other technology businesses to become more successful?

“It simply came to our notice then. The biggest lesson is that you never know what works until it happens. Consider playing chess. You don’t always win, but you remember the last move you made that didn’t work, so you don’t do it again. Move fast, learn lessons. This allows me to create hyper-growing businesses. For the last 28 years, I’ve learned what not to do. Don’t let the “thought of doing” stop you from actually doing it. Understand what works, stumble, fall, laugh, cry – but do it. In the end, you will do one of two things, win or learn a lesson. And if you learn a lesson, you can build meaningful relationships by doing so. One last tip, successful companies build processes and procedures that enable people to be successful. If you can instill an amazing culture, you will eventually create an amazing company. ”

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