At LobsterPot, there are a few things that we definitely value above other things.
Integrity is top of the list – it has to be. In fact, it is the quality I refuse to compromise on with my staff. When I identify someone I want to approach for a job, I have always weighed this particular aspect of the person as best I can, and regularly make it very clear to the new staff member that this is the top attribute I want from them.
Naturally, quite high on the list is also having a technical nous, because obviously I need technical staff to be technical, both now and into the future. It's a nous rather than ability, because I need them to be able to pick things up quickly, and have a sense for the right way of doing things, even if they feel unfamiliar with the territory.
And this then leads onto an enthusiasm for learning, and for being able to demonstrate that (in part) through certification. Having all the certifications in the world doesn't prove anything beyond an ability (or perhaps just determination) to pass exams, but it does help me have something to use as a reference. For the relatively small price of sitting an exam (plus the time required to try it), I get to be able to refer to my staff member as certified, and they can realise that at the very least, their abilities are enough to get them past the appropriate certification – tending to give more credence to my opinions about their abilities than their own self-deprecating thoughts.
Not to mention the benefit that the company gets in having certified staff…
There are five of us in LobsterPot now – all certified in SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence. With the various other things that LobsterPot does to maintain Gold Certified Partner status, this meant that yesterday when the Microsoft Partner Program rebranded as the Microsoft Partner Network we had already achieved all the requirements to attain the Gold Competency level in BI (which we promptly did a few minutes after the program went live). The process seemed quite long, but once it was done (and the extra money had been paid), we now have the Gold Competency in Business Intelligence, with Silver in five other areas. An email from Sarah Arnold from Microsoft tells me that we were the first company in Australia to attain a Gold Competency of any type, which I hope places LobsterPot in a nice position.
I do wish that I could show off the new logos, but unfortunately the Logo Builder doesn't seem to be online yet. I'll keep my eye out for it, and in the meantime, have posted the list of competencies from the Partner Membership Centre.
Where does this Gold Competency rate on the list of things that LobsterPot values? To be honest, not amazingly high. But as my clients have liked the the fact we have been a Gold Certified Partner in the old program, it's definitely nice to still be Gold.