FWSIM Spotlight - POD Leaders

FWSIM PODs started off as a Personalized Networking Experience for its members, enabled thru Member Ambassadors who are assigned to serve a POD of members. This flexible and informal setting encourages a higher level of member engagement to maximize the outcome of your FWSIM membership.

We started off on Sep’20 and have never looked back, recently celebrating our 1st year anniversary and launching POD 2.0 with some additional benefits and features. PODs have been a hit with SIM and multiple chapters have adopted it or are in the process of implementing it, including Houston and Los Angeles. We believe that our success has been due to the hard work of our esteemed POD Member Ambassadors, who stretched themselves from their day job to ensure that they could facilitate, engage, adjust, and persevere throughout our POD journey.

We want to take a moment to spotlight and thank them for their dedication and sacrifice to keep our chapter engaged and thriving.

John Solder

John Solder runs a POD of 41 members that grew from 20 to what it is now through a small consolidation of existing PODs. He has the biggest POD as of now and his POD meets every month on third Wed’s @ 6pm EST.

John is the Head of Sales Engineering at Beacon Platform, a global enterprise innovation platform specializing in Derivatives and Securities Trading Systems, Trading Systems Consulting, FinTech, Developer Platforms, Insurance, Capital Markets, Quantitative Trading, cloud-based platform, Risk Management, and trading and risk applications.

John has been an FWSIM member for over 10 years and, with two grown children, he lives in Westport CT with his wife of 31 years.   John has a degree in Computer Science from Pratt Institute and when he's not at the keyboard solving problems, he can be found in his garden or trying to catch a fish in Long Island Sound.  Fun Fact: In 2011, John mentored the Staples HS robotics team and won the FTC world championship!

Jen Bernadelli

Jen Bernardelli runs a POD of 28 members that grew from 15 to what it is now thru multiple new member additions.

She was one of those MA’s who signed up for this role on Sep’20 and hung in there thru the evolution of the POD journey. Her POD meets every month on the first Monday of the month at 12PM.

By day, Jen is a Sr Director, Content Management & Governance for Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) and is busy creating this operation from the ground up. Jen has spent her career in content and data, having seen her work transition from the printed book to CD/DVDs and the Internet.  She is passionate about democratizing data and providing highly consumable data to her customers.

Jen joined FWSIM in November 2019. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Sacred Heart University, and when not working, Jen is an avid runner as well as a student of the mixed martial arts.  She lives in CT with her husband Tony, son Michael and three cats.

John Barry

John Barry runs a POD that has grown from 15 to 25 members, since he signed up as an MA in Sep 2020.

His POD meets at 5PM on the first Wednesday of the month. John has been a member of SIM for over 19 years, and has been co-leading the FWSIM Members In Transition (MIT) for over 12 years, along with Rhona Kannon. John was on the SIM National Committee representing the FWSIM chapter for SIMposium 2015 and 2016 and SIM Connect Live 2018.

In December 2020, John assumed ownership and operation of Technology Executives Networking Group (TENG), as requested by  founder and former FWSIM board member Ed Pospesil. John is the co-founder of Northern Fairfield Professionals, a network group that meets monthly with guest speakers on topics to help with job research and/or professional development. John has been on speaker panels and has made presentations on job-searching tips and employment trends to numerous professional network organizations.

John is the President of ITech Consulting Partners (ITech), which he founded in 1998. ITech has successfully placed IT Professionals at all levels up to Director/VP and was recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Recruiting Firms in 2020 in the Professional Search Category. John and his wife Mary, who runs the back office of ITech, have 3 daughters and a son, and in addition to his professional networking activities, John is actively involved in community and church events and has been recognized by St. Rose Parish in Newtown for his contributions.

Arvind Sahu

Arvind Sahu runs a POD of 12 members and was one of those MA’s who signed up for this role on Sep’20 and hung in there through the evolution of the POD journey.

His POD meets every month on the 2nd or 3rd week @ 5:30 pm EST. Topics range from goals for the upcoming year, how to retain valuable resources & attracting new talent to purely technical topics like Cyber Security, Azure Cloud and ERP systems. The aim is to create an environment where POD members can freely  discuss challenges they are facing and help each other out.

By day, Arvind is a digital transformation specialist and a hands-on IT leader and strategist, orchestrating global organizational transformations and rapid growth. Currently, he is heading the IT department at Kari-Out, a diversified manufacturing company and a market leader in to-go food packaging in the US. His broad industry experience includes CPG, Manufacturing, Media, Pharma, Distribution, Banking, Energy and Big 4 consulting.

Arvind is based out of CT, where he spends his spare time playing tennis, doing sketches, karaoke singing and volunteering for NGO organizations. He loves to travel with his wife and 2 kids to exotic locations.

Raj Kurup

Raj Kurup runs a POD of 27 members that grew from 15 to what it is now. His POD meets every month on the third Tuesday @ 5pm EST.

By day, Raj Kurup is a Sr Director at Cigna who is passionate about customer excellence thru Digital and Omni-channel strategies in the healthcare industry. He leads an organization of 200+ resources with a P/L of $20M owning multiple customer-facing applications, and joined FWSIM in Oct 2016 after considering multiple SIM chapters in the New England area. 

Raj holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut specializing in Healthcare Management. Raj came to the U.S. from India, where he completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Electronic Engineering from VJTI, Mumbai, India.

Raj, an avid New England sports fan (Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins), loves to watch good movies, especially Indian movies that are well scripted and directed. He lives in Rocky Hill CT with his wife Rakhi, 16-year-old son Rithik, 10-year-old daughter Roopika and 2-year-old tuxedo cat Fluffernutter.

Ken Zimmerman

Ken Zimmerman is a long-serving FWSIM Board Member who joined us as a member ambassador when we needed some help with running an existing POD. Now he runs a POD of 14 members and has been very successful in hosting multiple in-person pop-up POD meetings during the pandemic. His POD typically meets every third Wednesday of the month at 5PM EST.

As the Founder & CEO of Chateaux (more than 35 years ago), Ken recently led his company through its acquisition by Coretelligent. Now, as the Digital Transformation Services division of Coretelligent, Chateaux focuses on Emerging Technologies, Custom Applications, Data Management, and Cloud Services. Chateaux has delivers cutting-edge solutions to companies primarily within the financial services and life sciences industries as well as utilities, manufacturing, judicial, healthcare, and telecom. Partnerships with IBM, Microsoft, AWS, Progress, and SAP demonstrate Chateaux's ability to leverage cutting-edge technology for maximum impact.

Ken takes the approach of leading by example, having developed this perspective over the course of his 20+ years as a Senior Solutions Architect. His roster of engagements and resulting expertise spans enterprise architecture, data architecture, analytics and visualization, application development, cloud services and end-user training programs.

In addition to his 15-year membership with FWSIM, Ken is a member of the Duke Alumni Association, the CEO Roundtable, and the MIT Enterprise Forum of Connecticut. In his spare time, you can find Ken on the squash court, at the local sailing club, on paleontological digs at the K-Pg boundary, or painting in his art studio. He lives in Westport with his wife, two children, a turtle, and an assortment of amphibians and arachnids.

Rhona Kannon

Rhona Kannon is our esteemed Board Member and assisted in the roll out of our POD program. She runs a POD of 31 members that grew from 20 to what it is now thru a few consolidations of existing PODs.

She has the 2nd biggest and one of the most active PODs that meets every four weeks on a Wednesday at 6:00 pm.  By day, Rhona is a Principal Director at CyberCoders, a technology search agency noted as one of the 2022 Top Workplaces and one of Forbes 2021 America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms.

Rhona had a previous career in technology, most notably ten years with PepsiCo, and holds a BS in Computer Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Rhona’s pride and joy is her family: husband Jason, two amazing sons, Jordan and Ray, a wonderful daughter-in-law, AnnMarie, and the world’s most incredible grandson ever, Sawyer! Rounding out her world are her three grand dogs, Davis, Henry and Pastina.  Rhona enjoys yoga, a good workout, reading, catching a sunset at the beach whenever possible and spending time with family and friends.

Written by Raj Kurup.