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Interview in "HiTech Career Journal"

UP FRONT in conversation with Max Haroon

A meeting place for Web workers

For the past 25 years, Max Haroon has worked in various sectors of the IT industry as, among others, a systems analyst, project leader, business consultant and entrepreneur. He is the founder and president of the Society of Internet Professionals (SIP).

htc: What is SIP?

MH:
SIP is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to standardize certification for Internet workers and to enhance professionalism. SIP has undertaken two major initiatives: one is the establishment of SIP-U, an online offering of professional development courses over the Internet; and the second is the development of certification curriculum for the Certified Internet Professionals (CIP) designation. 

htc: When did you first decide there was a need for an organization like SIP?

MH:
It was back in 1996 when the Internet was exploding, transforming itself into the media we know today. Businesses realized they had to have a Web site and were looking for Internet professionals, so a demand was created. The problem was not enough skilled people were available and companies didnít know if a person applying for a job had the right credentials. I felt there was a need for an organization which could give a standard certification, not only for the employers, but also the Internet professionals themselves.

htc: When was SIP actually launched?

MH:
The first inaugural meeting took place in Toronto in March, 1997. We had over 60 people show up. It was encouraging, and everyone felt there was a need for this type of organization here in Canada. 

htc: Were there any other 
certification courses available at the time?

MH:
At the time there may have been some courses offered, but there was no standard in the industry. We established five different CIP categories such as Web master, systems administrator, etc. Out of those we developed the CIP designation for Web masters in 1999, and we invited institutions to offer our courses. 

htc: Has the industry embraced SIP certifications?

MH:
When they find out about SIP, the response is positive. But like any non-profit organization we donít have the funds for marketing and promotion. We donít have full-time 
people working in the organization, theyíre all volunteers. So getting the word out is sometimes 
difficult. 

htc: Can any 
organization or 
educational institution offer a SIP certification course?

MH:
Any organization wishing to offer a certification course has to apply to become an accredited training centre. They can charge people whatever they like, that has nothing to do with SIP. Just like Microsoft certification courses, where Microsoft doesnít charge for the courses, itís the organizations or educational institutions that set fees for the courses. SIP doesnít actually offer any courses itself. 

htc: Can anyone working the Web become a member of SIP?

MH:
Anyone working in the Internet industry, like Web masters, can apply for a CIP designation and become an associate member of SIP. We have various membership categories. For a one-time only fee of $100 individuals can become associate members. We also have student memberships for $25 a year. And corporations or associations can also become members.

htc: What are the benefits of 
membership? 

Along with CIP certification, we offer 350 online training courses through our Web site www.sipgroup.org. Individuals can take courses relating to Internet technology, or many other HiTech courses to help them facilitate career change or professional development. Membership also entitles them to discounts on book purchases and group insurance. They can also network with other members at monthly meetings and annual conferences. And we send all our members a newsletter each month updating them on recent developments and news about the industry. SIP also provides free Internet access, low-cost hosting and help with collaborative projects and ventures.

htc: How many chapters does SIP have?

Right now weíve established chapters in Ottawa, Toronto, and weíre opening one soon in Vancouver. Outside Canada, we have a chapter in Florida and one in Victoria, Australia. Each chapter holds monthly meetings, and we have an annual conference ó itís what I call a networking party ó where we invite various vendors to display their products or services. Itís like a trade show, but it includes dinner and presentations.

htc: What are some of the major issues raised by members of SIP? 

MH:
A big issue at the moment is that SIP isnít as visible as it should be. As a non-profit organization we donít receive any government grants, so we donít really have much in the way of financial resources. We donít even have a full-time executive director. However, thereís a company willing to sponsor someone to fill that position. Once we have a full-time executive director, he or she will be able to resolve many of the issues affecting the growth of the organization. We also need an active co-ordinator to open and guide new chapters across the country. 

htc: What are the ongoing 
objectives of SIP? 

MH:
To facilitate professional development and learning; to provide a forum for business and networking opportunities; to keep members abreast of developments in Internet technology; to form a talented network of professionals intent on collective success and to standardize professional accreditation or certification. Additionally, we want our Web site to become an interactive portal for Web professionals, where people can search for information on everything from training courses to articles related to their jobs. Members can also post their resumes or available job positions on the site. 

htc: If any of our readers are 
interested in SIP, how can they find out more? 

MH:
They can visit our Web site, or contact me directly at founder@sipgroup.org  If they would like to find out about upcoming meetings, they can send a blank e-mail to mail@sipgroup.org  and it will automatically add them to our announcements list.


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Click here for Max's presentations


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