CompTIA has named IT industry veteran Amy Kardel as its new board chair, where she will work to utilize the industry trade association's training and certification initiatives to create new employment opportunities within the channel. 

Kardel's has been on the CompTIA board for three years prior to her appointment as board chair, and has also served as chair of the audit committee. She is a member of the HTG Peer Groups network in San Luis Obispo, CA, and sits on the advisory council for ConnectWise, which offers business automation for tech companies.

“I love a good board meeting,” she said. “I’ve been really impressed with that at CompTIA. The staff is very professional and executes extremely well. [The board] has been a great place for me to learn more about our industry from a 30,000 foot view.”

In addition to her work with CompTIA, Kardel is the chief administrative officer at Clever Ducks, an IT consulting and services firm located in San Luis Obispo, a community of fewer than 47,000 people. She says her experience running a small IT company in a small community gives her unique insight into the concerns of CompTIA’s core membership, many of whom are small business owners.

“[San Luis Obispo] is a paradise place to live, but it’s not even a tertiary market," she said. "Having learned to make it work here has given me a lot of insight on what most of the world is actually like…it’s not New York or San Francisco.”

Kardel points to how Clever Ducks leverages CompTIA’s certification programs to help supplement the lack of training options in San Luis Obispo as an example of a common struggle for much of the organization’s membership. “When you live in a rural area, you have to farm your own employees to a certain degree. You have to get good people and grow them through a program. We really focus on developing growth plans for each employee through the CompTIA certification process,” she said. “It’s really been a differentiator in recruiting as well as a growth tool.”

Helping foster CompTIA’s training capabilities is one of the areas Kardel is most passionate about making a difference, citing the tight IT labor market in the US. With a lack of skilled tech workers nationwide, and the cost of college tuition increasingly becoming something many high school graduates cannot afford, training programs such as those offered by CompTIA are becoming more and more important to the industry. She wants to continue to partner with community colleges, supplement companies’ internal training offerings and reach out to high school students to encourage them to explore career and technical education as a possible alternative to a four-year university.

Kardel is the third woman to lead the CompTIA Board of Directors, following Barbara Faucett (1994-95) and Susan Bailey (1998-99), and one of three women on the current board. She is involved in CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) initiative, and looks forward to continuing her work to mentor women and serve as an example to encourage them to enter the IT workforce. “I’m glad to see it’s a topic we’re going to be talking about,” she said. “With this many roles to fill, we want women and girls to consider IT. We need all hands on deck.”

In addition to the formal programs and events sponsored by the AWIT initiative, Kardel said she wants to encourage the community to engage in what she calls “small acts of kindness.” “It could be taking an interest in a friend’s daughter, it could be answering an email from somebody who wants to apply with your company but they’re not sure if they should,” she said. Big acts are important, but Kardel said it’s the small acts that affect somebody personally which lead to an actual culture shift. “It’s about inclusivity, who in my circle can I influence and how can I help them do the best work.”

Kardel is looking forward to gathering with the channel community at the upcoming CompTIA Annual Member Meeting in Chicago next week, an event she cites of an example of CompTIA’s ongoing effort to be cognizant of their core membership of small to midsize businesses. The conference moves from region to region in an effort to be accessible to channel partners in more remote areas “who have to take two flights to get anywhere from a small town” and may not have much in the way of travel spend. “I encourage people to send employees and attend if it’s in their area,” she said. “It’s a fire hose of information.”