Business Profile | Todd Thibodeaux

August 2016 View more

toddCompTIA, the national association for the technology industry based in Downers Grove, is a global organization with offices and staff around the world. With more 200 staff members and $60 million in annual revenue, its certifications are offered in more than 120 countries and provide the basis for millions of people to begin their careers in IT. President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux shares his thoughts about the evolving IT industry and tells us why CompTIA has been named one of the best places to work in Illinois.

Tell us about CompTIA’s education and certification programs.

The education and research we offer is best of breed foundational training. If a company is looking to start a new business practice like cloud computing, we can help. If they want to improve their business basics we have training. The programs are targeted primarily at smaller IT solution providers who provide IT support to other small businesses like a retail shop, a law or doctor’s office, a small manufacturer or even to a school or city government. They are delivered through webinars, downloadable study guides and face-to-face training via our quality CompTIA instructors. We also offer tools and templates along with best practice road maps to help augment the training. Another important part of education is research. CompTIA, through a top-notch internal team, conducts more than 50 discrete industry studies a year to help companies understand the trends and turning points in the industry. The research also helps to define the future for technologies like the Internet of Things, biometrics, robotics and big data.

While our IT education is targeted at companies, our certification programs are meant for current and aspiring IT professionals. All totaled, CompTIA has certified more than 2.2 million individuals since the program started in the mid ‘90s and certifies more than 220,000 each year. Best known for CompTIA A+, the certification exams provide the ability for IT pros to demonstrate their knowledge to prospective employers. Having a CompTIA certification provides a stamp of approval you can’t get anywhere else. There are some 800,000 open IT jobs in the U.S. currently and a huge number of them require or recommend CompTIA certifications to be eligible to apply. The exams are developed by the industry for the industry. We use a pool of subject matter experts from around the world to identify the knowledge and skills an IT pro needs to be successful. The exams are affordably priced and widely available. Individuals prepare through college courses, books, online training and self-study. CompTIA provides programs from entry-level to expert allowing us to aid IT pros throughout their career progressions.

CompTIA was recently recognized among the best places to work in Chicagoland and Illinois. What makes CompTIA such a great place?

Our focus on culture is the most important determinant. We endeavor to work hard, work smart, help each other, think big and have fun! We’re also very much an employee led organization. We have many staff committees that make the majority of the decisions impacting culture including policies and procedures, benefits, events and charitable works. We try to give our employees everything they need to be successful including flex time and work from home, broadband reimbursements, state of the art technology tools and much more. We work to keep a pulse on culture at all times and address issues and challenges as they arise not giving them time to fester and breed discontent. Everyone has something valuable to contribute and we work hard to get the most out of everyone. We also all share a set of corporate goals that provide the basis for incentive compensation everyone is eligible for.

What do you see as the biggest challenge or opportunity for the computer technology industry in the next 5–10 years?

The industry has been able to reinvent itself time and again. Going from a mainframe centralized world to the very decentralized world of mobile devices we have today. Through it all, the most important part of the success of the industry has been the people. But attracting people is becoming a real challenge today. The IT industry is not looked at as a cool place to be. There are about 40 million people worldwide who work in IT and 10 million to 12 million will retire in the next 7–8 years. We’ll need to not only replace them, but find another 3 million to 5 million for growth. There are many misperceptions about what an IT career is all about. Kids think they need to be a math and science genius. They’ll be sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen all day and never interacting with people. They also think there isn’t a solid career path or all the jobs are outsourced outside the U.S. None of those are true. An IT career offers an exciting, vibrant set of opportunities for anyone. It’s not just for geeks. If we don’t turn this around and continue to get more of the best and brightest the industry will not be able to fulfill its mission to power the global economy.

How did you get your start in this industry?

I’ve been a techie from a very early age. My father was an engineer so we always had some sort of tech around the house. He built his own stereo equipment and worked for a firm that provided some of the earliest personal computers, so I got a lot of exposure. I had models and Radio Shack kits and read a lot of science fiction so I was hooked. I built a Heathkit color TV between the ages of 10 to 12 that actually worked. I got my first computer not long after that, took up programming and began to see firsthand all that tech could do. My professional career started with the Electronic Industries Association in Washington, D.C., and then later with the Consumer Technology Association who own and produce the International Consumer Electronics Show held annually in Las Vegas. It was there I got to see and experience the annual progression of the industry from the VCR and CD player through the smart phone, HDTV and much more. It was a natural progression in 2008 to lead the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).