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IBM Champions help others to succeed – and gain a lot in return

IBM Champions 2021 Mariusz Koczar, Tommi Sihvo and Juha Eklund share their experiences.


IBM Champions are recognized for their expertise as innovative thought leaders within the tech community. This year, IBM awarded 735 individuals from 56 countries with the prestigious IBM Champion title, three of which can be found within TietoEVRY. Juha Eklund and Tommi Sihvo have been recognized for their expertise within Power and Mariusz Koczar within the Data & AI category.

IBM Champions are experts and advocates for IBM products and technology who dedicate their time to supporting and growing the IBM community. The IBM Champion title is awarded to individuals who contribute to the community through answering questions, organizing and leading user group events, publishing podcasts, sharing instructional videos and offering their expertise in other ways to help others make the most of their IBM investments.

Hard work and dedication recognized with IBM Champion nominations

For Mariusz Koczar, Technical Architect in Mainframe Services, the support of TietoEVRY was instrumental in earning the award again – for the sixth time. Mariusz Koczar was an IBM Champion in 2015–2019 while at Tieto but missed this accolade in 2020 while working elsewhere. 

I’ve been recognized as an IBM Champion for more than 5 years, and this year is special because I’m a returning IBM Champion after a 1-year break. At TietoEVRY, I get great support from my managers and co-workers. Opportunities to attend conferences and meet people from across the whole globe have accelerated my career. As an IBM Champion, it is much easier to contact top specialists in the Mainframe area. However, everything started at Tieto 14 years ago in the Mainframe Young Professional program”, comments Marius Koczar.

Being recognized as an IBM champion is prestigious at an individual level, as well as on a company level. Tommi Sihvo, Lead Service Architect in Power at TietoEVRY, who received his second IBM Champion title this year says that:

To be selected as an IBM Champion is a great recognition for me personally, but the credit should also be shared with our whole team here at TietoEVRY. Our experts in all countries are doing tremendous work keeping our important customers’ business-critical environments running steadily on Power, and this nomination reflects all that work and effort within our organization. I am extremely proud and happy to see that we have three Champions in our company this year. It shows not only our in-house culture of great competence but also the commitment towards one of our biggest strategic partners in these cornerstone areas of our business”.

In the 2021 class of innovative thought leaders, 39% are new Champions. Juha Eklund, Senior Solution Architect in Power at TietoEVRY is one of the individuals receiving this recognition for the first time. “I see this as some kind of Lifetime achievement Academy Award, as this is linked to my work history with AIX and Unix environments in general since the late 80’s and my active communications with IBM in Finland”, Juha Eklund explains. 

Being part of the IBM Champion community brings many benefits

Being an IBM Champion comes with more benefits than just the highly regarded title. The Champions become a part of a large international network of highly skilled professionals who receive recognition and increased visibility to broaden their scope of influence. They also receive access to development portals and invitations to participate in conferences and events. 

The IBM Champion community is very active; we have both IBM-driven tech-talks within the Champion program, but also virtual meetings between Champions ourselves without any IBM engagement, where we share knowledge and experiences related to the topic”, Tommi Sihvo explains. 

Dedicating time for personal growth and learning is one of the cornerstones of TietoEVRY’s culture. Marko Veneranta, Head of Mainframe Services sums it up:

Receiving such recognition of our employees is so rewarding. As a manager, I’m happy to support our professionals’ growth and see their enthusiasm for giving back to the community. While teaching others you learn a lot, and what would be a better way to engage professionals than to support them in their interest areas?

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