Industry Leader Q&A with New SHARE President Justin Bastin

At the SHARE summer 2018 event in St. Louis, the new SHARE president and CEO Justin Bastin reflected on the significance of the new Zowe project, the user group's leadership in blockchain, compliance, and DevOps, and what he hopes to accomplish during his tenure.  

“As our strategic partners, members, exhibitors, and delegates continue to shift their IT strategy, so too does SHARE.  SHARE’s greatest opportunity is to provide our stakeholders meaningful solutions leveraging and our two events throughout the year,” said Bastin, who is with Dell EMC.  

How did you first come in contact with SHARE?
Thankfully management was vested in my professional growth and understood the power of networking through in-person, face-to-face conversations. Therefore, my manager encouraged me to attend SHARE San Diego (2007), where those IT professionals could answer my questions, help build my understanding in enterprise information technology, and I could grow my professional network. During SHARE San Diego, I volunteered for the zNextGen Project, and have been serving the organization and enterprise ecosystem since.   

In what way has SHARE been beneficial to you in your career?
When my parents would do something for me, I made sure to thank them. My parents’ response was, “You’re welcome, and remember that everyone needs help.”  At first, SHARE is where I went for help when needing to provide IT solutions for my employer.  While continuing to build my technology expertise, I increased my volunteer contributions to SHARE. These contributions built stronger relationships with likeminded friends who happened to be industry experts, and trend setters within the enterprise ecosystem. These relationships and continued volunteer efforts have blessed me with the opportunity to develop my leadership and technical skills in a safe environment.   

What do you hope to accomplish during your term at SHARE?
Growth!  Grow SHARE’s influence. Grow SHARE’s events. Grow collaboration opportunities with our exhibitors, partners and delegates to provide a more fulfilling SHARE’d experience in their professional careers and personal development. With SHARE in existence for over 65 years, one constant thing is change, and our ecosystem has done an exemplary job in adapting to change. SHARE doesn’t have to just be an IT conference, but will be an experience, and a platform that enables the current and next generation of IT professionals more opportunities than previous generations. 

Which initiatives do you feel are most critical?
The SHARE initiatives that are most critical are understanding what our members and delegates need to be successful. SHARE has the most innovative trend setters in enterprise IT. Once SHARE understands what our members, exhibitors, and delegates need, the troops will rally together and provide products and solutions to eliminate obstacles and attain opportunities.

zNextGen Project is incredibly important.  Every organization, project, task, product, service, etc. looks to provide value.  More important than the value is the enablement of the next generation. SHARE is the premier organization that enables the next generation of IT professionals in enterprise IT. If you want to give mainframe customers an excuse to outsource or migrate off the platform, tell them there is a shortage of talent. As one of my colleagues told me, “Stop asking how long the mainframe will be around, but ask who you’ll leave behind to innovate the platform.” This is what SHARE will do for the next generation.    

What are SHARE's greatest challenges today?
I don’t believe SHARE has challenges, but opportunities.  Since 1955, SHARE has been a staple in the enterprise IT ecosystem.  As our strategic partners, members, exhibitors, and delegates continue to shift their IT strategy, so too does SHARE.  SHARE’s greatest opportunity is to provide our stakeholders meaningful solutions leveraging and our two events throughout the year.  Also, not only will those involved in SHARE benefit from the technical opportunities at SHARE, but they will have the ability to grow personally as well.  We as an ecosystem must continue to rise up and fight for the platform, put solutions on display at SHARE events, and on our website while providing the next generation of IT professionals a platform to grow. 

Cloud and virtualization continue to be a major area of focus across IT. What are the concerns and opportunities that SHARE members see with cloud and how is SHARE helping?
I often hear customers have a “cloud first” strategy, in that, cloud must be part of the solution.  One of the biggest challenges I see is how does cloud fit in their mainframe environment today.  Once a customer/individual defines what cloud is, they can start to seek ideas, solutions, and guidance at SHARE.  For example, at SHARE St. Louis, SHARE had 59 sessions discussing cloud in the enterprise IT today.  Cloud content at SHARE raises awareness about what cloud could be, how to seamlessly fit cloud in an enterprise IT strategy, and how to articulate cloud to IT management.  Also, because of SHARE’s neutrality, the exhibitors that provide cloud content at SHARE events can discuss various cloud strategies to invoke an awareness about where cloud is today, and where cloud is heading.  Ultimately, our delegates and member companies will be armed after a SHARE event with knowledge and awareness that cloud is a part of the mainframe ecosystem and not a replacement of mainframe technology.    

Blockchain, data security, and compliance, and DevOps are three additional areas gaining more attention within the IBM ecosystem and in the market overall. What is SHARE doing to provide guidance?
Great question.  SHARE desires to lead the way with meaningful content and mindful thoughts to positively influence enterprise IT.  With the advent of blockchain, compliance, and DevOps, customers are seeking to understand how this technology (blockchain), concepts and culture (DevOps), and rules (compliance) could be leveraged in their infrastructure.  SHARE provides a platform through our events and website infrastructure ( to enable the understanding of the technology, culture/concepts, and rules; offer suggestions for using the technology, culture/concepts to positively impact their infrastructure; and provide thoughts on how the technology can be used. SHARE’s ultimate role in these conversations is to raise awareness about these topics and provide a platform to have the conversation so that customers and vendors have the opportunity to openly discuss ideas.

SHARE has been at the forefront of recruiting the next generation along with IBM. Can you provide an update on the mainframe skills shortage and whether it is improving?
Yes, it is! At every SHARE event, the number of first-time attendees at SHARE events rises. I hear that more and more new folks learning the platform are attending SHARE to exponentially grow their technical and personal skills.  I see more individuals new to the platform taking leadership positions within the SHARE organization (which is volunteer-led). Our exhibitors attending SHARE are sending more and more folks from the next generation to our events, and SHARE continues to invest in the next generation by creating SHARE Academic, which provides opportunities for high-school and college students to attend a SHARE event and begin to understand the technologies that we all know and love.

What are some of the key takeaways from the SHARE St. Louis event?
As an organization that has advocated for open source on the mainframe since it was established, we very excited that Zowe was announced to the world at SHARE St. Louis and our community had the first opportunity to learn more about it. Zowe, the first ever open-source project based on z/OS, complements many of SHARE’s efforts to engage and equip the next generation of mainframe developers for success in our field, and generate excitement about the platform. Anyone can now access the beta version of Zowe and experience and contribute to this project.

The next SHARE conference will be held March 10-15, 2019, at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona. Go here for more information.