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IT Heroes Among Us: Honoring Our Award Winners

Last year proved a testament to the mettle of enterprise IT professionals who tirelessly worked to keep the communications flowing for their organizations during the most trying of times. For many, the efforts put forth were merely more of the same, albeit twisted around an unusual circumstance. In other words, many within this community habitually go above and beyond the formal job roles and responsibilities to deliver exceptional service.
With the backdrop of a particularly tumultuous year, here at No Jitter and Enterprise Connect, we decided it was time to showcase the individual heroes and hero teams working in enterprise communications and collaboration. Toward that end, we launched our inaugural IT Hero Award program, and the nominations poured in, from colleagues and industry partners. Today, on behalf of the Enterprise Connect team, I’m happy to announce our 2021 winners, a group that I’ll have the privilege of hosting during a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, March 9, during our Enterprise Connect virtual event, “Communications & Collaboration: 2024.”
Here are our winners of the 2021 IT Hero Award, along with a snippet from their nominations:
  • Joe Castillo, regional director of operations, Center for Neuro Skills (CNS) — As a provider of brain injury rehabilitation, CNS found itself at a crossroads as the pandemic hit. Its patients require regular care and attention, yet many also faced elevated vulnerabilities to COVID-19 given their underlying conditions. Castillo and his team, having already migrated from an on-premises PBX to RingCentral UCaaS for voice calling, knew the answer was to add videoconferencing to its services portfolio. Within about four days, the team was able to launch one-on-one telehealth therapy sessions for patients at home and group telehealth meetings at residential inpatient facilities. Under Castillo’s leadership, this quick-thinking team kept its cool during the transition and successfully enabled a new business model for the organization.
  • Ian Hamilton, UC team lead, Weyerhaeuser — Hamilton exemplifies the day in, day out heroism we sought in nominees. While guiding Weyerhaeuser’s transition to work from home for desktop employees, Hamilton carried on with the migration he was overseeing from Microsoft Skype for Business on premises to Teams — a process he finessed all the while “delivering metrics-based value and vision,” as a colleague called out in his nomination. The nomination also recognized Hamilton for his ability to deliver on projects consistently and objectively, even “through setbacks, political challenges, and a rapidly evolving landscape.”
  • Brady Naugle, director of UC and collaboration, Amgen — During the early days of the pandemic, Naugle sprang into action and fast-tracked a global UC platform conversion from on premises to the cloud, implementing Cisco Webex and Zoom services — “no small task,” given Amgen’s employee base of 30,000. She expanded a relationship with managed services provider AVI-SPL to hasten the delivery of collaboration tools, overseeing a “very complex transition and [demonstrating] leadership at every stage of the process … while managing through office closures, protests, and a rapidly changing work environment including virtual meetings and events.”
  • Frank Santistevan, manager – platform technology, Pearson Education — Since joining Pearson Education eight years ago, Santistevan has driven transformation of the company’s 5,000 agent-strong customer service organization, supported via the migration from a premises-based contact center system to a cloud contact center platform from Lifesize (previously Serenova). This transition has seen him head up dozens of projects, many being high-stress, requiring orchestration over a tight timeline, and meeting the needs of many stakeholders. Nevertheless, Santistevan “does an impressive job of balancing all the demands of the business with the goals of the project,” delivering successful results with his calm demeanor, positive influence, and relentlessness.
  • Darin Ward, senior voice engineer, RR Donnelley (RRD) — Credited as being a one-man show, Ward is also a born teacher. He earned recognition among colleagues in his support of RRD’s sprawling U.S. cloud voice system, “from inception to rollout to support and beyond.” Not only does he keep large projects on track, but he does so while “maintaining the utmost professionalism and willingness to educate.” Once Ward diffuses a trouble situation, he consistently shares his knowledge on problem resolution. “He has in-depth knowledge … and he has never met an end user he cannot teach.”
Photo of IT Hero Award winners

Between now and our March 9 roundtable, I’ll be sharing more in-depth stories on our 2021 IT Heroes, so watch for additional posts to come. And, please join us for our free virtual event, March 9 and 10, to hear from our winners in their own words.