KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- In a world where most everyone is connected through social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, one Kansas City Kansas Community College staff member is making his mark in being social.
Baz Abouelenein, dean of information services at KCKCC, was recognized in October as being among the Top 50 Most Social CIOs in Higher Education in North America by the Huffington Post. Abouelenein came in as No. 10 on the list. The only other CIO from Kansas or Missouri to be included on the list is Greg Smith, CIO at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo.
“I am fortunate, of course, to be on that list of distinguished Higher Education CIOs,” he said. “Again, it is an amazing honor. But I can’t hide that I started thinking about how to be No. 1, with all due respect to my friend and mentor Phil Komarny, who is a remarkable CIO at Seton Hill University.”
Individuals were selected to the Top 50 Most Social CIOs in Higher Education by looking at several factors including the number of followers and number of tweets posted. Abouelenein was recognized by the Huffington Post last year as among the “20 Rising Star CIOs on Twitter” and by EdTech Magazine as one of the “13 Most Social Higher Education CIOs” on Twitter. Currently, he has more than 1,585 followers and has sent out more than 6,300 Tweets. Abouelenein can be found on Twitter @CIO_Baz.
“One of the most profound factors that prompted me to explore social media is the social perception that almost all IT professionals, including CIOs, are introverts and prefer to interact with computer equipment rather than people. I wanted to make a ding in this false perception,” he said. “I thought that social media would help me connect with the best technology influencers in the world and form new connections with technology users and enthusiasts both inside and outside KCKCC.”
Abouelenein, who came to KCKCC in 2005, said like many first-timers, he was unsure at first how to best utilize social media. He decided that the best way to start was to establish a presence on Twitter, discussing various topics, opportunities and challenges from both an individual and professional perspective.
“Twitter has become a vitally important platform to disseminate and discuss IT operations and best practices,” he said. “It helps me personally stay current with the latest trends and thoughts. It’s very exciting to now see a growing interest and demand for learning and understanding social media among new adopters at KCKCC, especially those who directly interact with our students.”
Abouelenein said his presence on social media has branded him as a resource. He said it is both “humbling and exciting” to be considered a go-to person and a trusted voice in Information Technology not only at KCKCC, but across the globe.
“Executive leadership in organizations and politicians thought of social media as a means to communicate to customers and citizens. Information Services at KCKCC has always been adept in listening to the voice of the constituents we serve,” he said. “So what social media brought to KCKCC is the recognition of the importance of communication channels that facilitate a dynamic form of one-on-one connection between Information Services and each individual on campus and the community rather than the campus and the community as a whole. To be recognized as the No. 10 social CIO in Higher Education in North America is a great honor to me personally and to KCKCC.”
Abouelenein said higher education institutions expect IT units to always demonstrate the “art of possible,” becoming an effective enabler to achieve strategic goals.
He said as CIOs and educators have an obligation to empower students to innovate and gain higher productive from technologies that have come to campuses over the years such as devices, cloud computing, analytics and social media.
“This means that we must demonstrate flexibility without jeopardizing IT best practices. I found that the best way to simplify the way we provide service is to engage our user communities and consistently respond to their evolving needs. Social Media is one of the ways to engage our users,” he said. “Social media is here to stay, so embrace social media and put people first before technology. Sign up on Twitter and transform geek speak to operational meaning that your business users can understand and appreciate.”