Saying Goodbye to a Channel Icon and True Friend
To say that it was a shock when I learned of Jean Alexander’s passing this week would be a major understatement. Suddenly, my mentor and a person I could talk to about anything in work or life in general was gone. While we feel for the loss to her family, those who got an opportunity to work with her and know her over the years are also finding it hard to deal with the news.
Based on all the comments and tributes online, it is obvious that she touched the lives and careers of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people in a very positive way over the years. She was truly a friend and mentor to everyone she met, and the channel community will be forever in her debt for all that she gave us.
I fondly remember my first conversation with Jean. It was probably 15 years ago when she was managing media barters for CompTIA and I was just learning the ropes at Business Solutions magazine. It was one of the most meaningful and productive phone conversations I ever had, devising innovative ways both organizations could benefit from the association’s upcoming event. When we ended the call, I felt excited about the business and personal relationship we put in place, and she followed up diligently to ensure everything we discussed was firmly in place. Of course, the entire event (including the activities we devised) was executed flawless. The alliance we created that day was beneficial to both organizations and started a friendship that would grow for many years.
That’s what Jean did: she got things done and made people feel comfortable while educating them at the same time. She knew how to deliver the right value to each of her clients and prospects, and she make everyone feel like a crucial part of the equation. She built up others in a way few others could. She acknowledged issues and pushed forward with viable solutions without batting an eye. When she ended a call with, “I love you, my friend,” she meant it. And I’m sure she said it a lot. Everyone who knew Jean became her friend.
Many remember her personal attributes, but she was able to mentor and enrich so many peoples’ lives because of her professional accomplishments. Jean had a storied career with Compaq, CompTIA and ASCII, truly one of the pioneering women in IT. She was inducted in the Computer Industry Hall of Fame in 2010 as a CompTIA A+ Originator, a certification that has helped thousands improve their skills, careers and lives. While Jean received numerous industry awards, including the illustrious CRN Women of the Channel designation, she treasured the relationships she developed more than all the accolades. The stories she shared with others were always relevant. The people she met and worked with always remained close ̶ because she was sincere, loyal and was always willing to help out if needed.
Jean battled and number of issues over the years, including the recent loss of her husband and several health-related problems. She battled through them all with grace and dignity. As she would say, “that’s just what you have to do.”
I remember how passionately she spoke about swimming, and what a joy it was when she was able to spend time in the pool. Of course, her family always came first in our conversations…the trips they took and upcoming activities such as graduations and weddings. She was an extremely proud mother and grandmother, and they will surely feel the loss.
There’s no perfect way to say goodbye to our friend Jean. I’m sure the tributes and stories in the coming days will be numerous and, in many cases, quite humorous (as in the time she tried to get me to dance). No matter what, I hope her family realizes what a tremendous impact she made on others. Not just as an IT professional, but as a giving part of our community. Our sincere condolences for your loss.
Farewell to our friend, channel mom and mentor. We love you, Jean.