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Kisco Systems Launches Richard C. Loeber Fellowship Program to Celebrate 40th Anniversary

The IBM i community is all too familiar with the challenge of replacing the older generation of employees with new talent.

Kisco, an IBM i security solutions provider, is seeking to fill the gaps left behind by retirees in the IT industry with the Richard C. Loeber Fellowship Program. The program focuses on promoting the development of IBM i customer shop employees as well as offering career opportunities to people from non-traditional, non-IT backgrounds.

Fellows will participate in a five-week IBM i and RPG training course provided by imPOWER, receive a year-long COMMON membership that covers registration for two conferences, and gain recognition throughout the IBM i community.

Inspiration Behind the Fellowship

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kisco, which was founded by Richard Loeber, for whom the fellowship is named. 40 years is a monumental anniversary, but this milestone is even more special to Kisco because Richard does not have a college degree and his son, Justin Loeber, head of business development, has a degree in an unrelated field. Their story is a testament to the value of investing in people from non-technical backgrounds.

In considering how to celebrate the 40th anniversary, Loeber reflected on the skills gap he was consistently hearing about across the industry and—in light of he and his father’s untraditional career paths—was inspired to create the program.

“Everyone’s retiring. There’s a skills gap, and there’s really only one answer for what to do to fix that, which is to hire and train people. There’s no other way,” Justin Loeber says. “[We were] thinking about how much my father was developed by investment from his employer back in the sixties, how that launched his career and just where that ended up. He started a business, and here it is 40 years later still going strong.”

Program Objectives

Beyond the goals of closing the skills gap and offering career opportunities to fellows, Kisco also hopes to boost awareness of the widely untapped potential of those who are already employed within IBM i customer shops. With this goal in mind, Kisco aims to form a three-way partnership with the candidate and their employer by requiring fellowship applicants to be sponsored by an IBM i customer shop.

“IBM i is a great platform for a career, but great careers only happen when companies invest in people,” Loeber says. “[We want] IBM i customer shops to realize that they can develop in-house. Our hope is that the people we select for the fellowship go through the imPower training and get networking through COMMON and turn out to be amazing resources for the companies that sponsor them…We want to create a narrative and have stories to tell about how effective it is to develop in-house.”

A Personal Connection

Kisco plans to kick off the program with its first two fellows in January 2024, and the upcoming launch has Loeber brimming with pride and admiration.

“It’s really exciting to me to honor my father’s legacy and that we’re about to celebrate four decades in business. Coming out of a career background with no college degree, I think that’s an enormous achievement. That’s really one that we want to celebrate, and I think this is a great way to celebrate it,” Loeber says. “Also, on a personal level, I just get a huge buzz out of launching careers. When I see how certain people I’ve mentored over the years are advancing in their careers and getting recognized and getting more responsibility, I get such a buzz from that. I love it. This is a way to try to do even more of that.”

How to Apply for the Richard C. Loeber Fellowship

Loeber encourages people interested in the fellowship to pursue it no matter what point they are at in their careers.

“[If] you currently have a role in a business that runs IBM i, get sponsored and submit your application. If you’re looking for roles at companies that run IBM i, you could mention that as a part of the interview process to make your hiring manager aware of the fellowship program,” Loeber says. “For people who are thinking about building or rebuilding their careers, I just want to say directly to them that IBM i is an amazing platform to do that on, and talking about a community where there’s a quantifiable need for skills and a broad and deep installation piece, you can have an amazing career in IBM i.”

In line with the program’s goals, Loeber also urges IBM i businesses to focus on developing the employees they already have.

“To businesses that run on IBM i, I want to say that they can help launch careers by investing in their people, and I think they should do that,” Loeber says. “I think it’s not even some sort of moral imperative. It’s good business.”