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Community IT Voices: Emeka Okocha, IT Business Manager

Join us for our series featuring interviews with Community IT employees. In this series, we talk about nonprofit technology career paths, career resources, skills, and certifications. We will also touch on mentoring opportunities as you start out on your career and ways to give back if you are further along. If you are wondering what it is like to work at a place like Community IT, you can learn about it here.

In today’s interview, Carolyn talks with Emeka Okocha, IT Business Manager at Community IT. Emeka moved to the United States from Nigeria and as an ITBM, helps clients with IT planning, IT management, dealing with the day to day activities, troubleshooting, and advising.

“The number one value I have is to help. I love to help. So working with nonprofits is where I’m supposed to be.”

Emeka Okocha, IT Business Manager


As an IT Business Manager, Emeka oversees client management with IT planning and management and service coordination for some of our clients. He provides client insight to support teams for more complex client issues.

The Community IT ITBM service provides an outsourced IT manager to clients at a reduced cost to hiring and having an IT manager on staff. These managers are a resource dedicated to matching technology solutions to clients’ business needs. To do this well requires an ongoing conversation with the client to continually understand their business needs, and then effective communication with client staff and leadership about the ways specific technology solutions can meet those business needs and how to budget for technology.

The ITBM makes recommendations on IT investments, training programs, maintenance, and licenses. They help the client be forward-looking, and act as a vendor-agnostic, trusted advisor with deep knowledge of the nonprofit IT software and platforms available. Because Community IT works in partnership with clients to manage long-term IT needs, the ITBM relationship with the client makes them a true asset.

Prior to joining Community IT Innovators, Emeka was an information specialist for an MSP and part of an internal IT Team as a System Support Specialist. He oversaw setting up, managing and troubleshooting the technology systems that a business uses to maintain computer and software networks of the companies he worked with in Abuja Nigeria.

Emeka has a bachelor’s degree in electrical-electronics Engineering from Caritas University Nigeria, moved to the USA and attained a master’s degree in Networking and Telecoms from Stratford University. Currently he is certified in Security+ and CCNA.

Carolyn Woodard

Carolyn Woodard has served many roles at Community IT Innovators, from client to project manager to marketing. With over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit world and marketing, including as a nonprofit technology project manager and Director of IT, Carolyn knows the frustrations and delights of working with technology professionals, accidental techies, executives, and staff to deliver your organization’s mission and keep your IT infrastructure operating.

Carolyn is excited to help manage Marketing at Community IT Innovators and is always looking for new ways to tell stories and reach people.  She has a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University and received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Williams College. She thinks the best thing about being with Community IT Innovators is the people.


Carolyn Woodard:  Welcome everyone, to the Community IT Innovators’ Voices interview series. My name is Carolyn Woodard and I’m very excited today to be interviewing Emeka Okocha. Emeka, would you like to introduce yourself?

Emeka Okocha:  How una dey? That’s how we say, “How are you doing everyone?” where I’m from. I’m Nigerian. My name is Emeka Okocha. I am an ITBM at Community IT, which is an IT business manager.

Carolyn Woodard:  And so what does that entail? What is an IT business manager?

Emeka Okocha:  An IT business manager, in another sense, can be seen as a virtual CIO. In today’s world, we have different companies, different organizations that find it hard to have an internal IT manager because of the cost. And some of them do not have a chief information officer. So, an ITBM works mostly with a managed service provider to act as an account manager. Basically to act as someone who does your IT planning, who does your IT management, somewhat also as an internal but external IT manager who deals with the day to day activities of managing your IT to have you not worry about anything that deals with IT.

Carolyn Woodard:  So you interact with contacts at the client?

Emeka Okocha:  Yes.

Carolyn Woodard:  What is a typical day like?

Emeka Okocha:  A typical day is mostly looking into an organization’s systems, going through tickets that have been submitted, working on the roadmaps and looking at the IT maturity model and making sure that at every stage of the IT maturity model, an organization is moving forward in the IT sense. Moving forward in a sense that they are given or implemented the latest IT software’s implementation applications. So basically, giving them the backing [support] in a forward sense.

Carolyn Woodard:  So it sounds like you do some strategic planning and you mentioned the roadmap. Can you talk a little bit about what a roadmap is and how you do that with a client?

Emeka Okocha:  An IT roadmap simply is just like the word – it is a roadmap. It’s a guide from point A to point B. For example, we have an organization that just onboarded with Community IT. They come in as they are, but they are not going to remain as they are. 

They come in with servers. They come in with old devices. They come in with network infrastructure that is old. So I put together a plan, I discuss it with a point of contact. I discuss with the C level staff of the organization and we look at their current state and we put in a roadmap. 

Some people call it an IT maturity model. Okay, you are going to move from having servers to serverless. We’re going to move you from having SonicWall or Fortinet. No, I’m not saying SonicWall or Fortinet are bad, but we’re moving you from this infrastructure to Meraki or something that can be managed. And you don’t have to manually do the implementation. It’s something that can be automated, moving you in. 

You already have situations where you have an IT staff on site to fix this. But an IT staff can, in the comfort of their own laptops, manage the services that you’re actually experiencing remotely in your system. Instead of going on site to manually ask for your time and work on your laptop or work on your device or work on your issue, we can from the comfort of our own homes and the comfort of wherever you’re working, work on this issue.

So we create this IT maturity model, the roadmap that is going to take you from point A to point B, moving you, giving you the latest IT implementations as you go up to the best and the latest that you do not have to worry about.

Carolyn Woodard:  I can tell that you’re really enthusiastic about this. What is your favorite part of your job?

Emeka Okocha:  My favorite part of my job is looking at my roadmap and IT maturity model and all my consultation and the recommendation I’ve given to an organization and they are at the top. They have the latest IT security features. They have the latest network infrastructure. Making the plan and executing the plan for the organization is the best part of my job.

Carolyn Woodard:  I love it. It sounds great. So do you have a technology background or a management background? How did you come into this role?

Emeka Okocha:  I actually have an engineering background. So a little back story: I have my bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and I have my master’s in Networking and Telecommunications. So I have a broad engineering background. 

But, when studying for my master’s for Networking and Telecommunications, I came across IT management services and I started working as an IT technician. And in about six months, I was moved to becoming an IT manager. And ever since, I’ve been in a managed service provider space, the MSP world, and I’ve always loved being in the MSP world. I cannot imagine myself being in internal IT. I love being in managed service with a managed service provider.

Carolyn Woodard:  So how did you hear about Community IT and what made you want to apply?

Emeka Okocha:  I started working at an IT help desk, just a technician, and while working, we worked with nonprofits and just regular clients: business oriented; profit oriented clients. And I saw the need to be in the space where we work with non-governmental organizations. I was with a different MSP that majored in military and security agencies.

I reached out to a recruiter and I was like, can you please help me look for a place that works as a nonprofit? I would love to work at a nonprofit because I belong to a nonprofit, also. It’s called Feast of Sharing and I work as the director of IT management. When I look at it and I see the effect of having a director of IT, I want to be in that space. I want to help the campaign. I want to help the agenda. I want to help what they stand for.

And she looked, she said, okay, I have someone, I have a company for you, it’s called Community IT. They work with strictly nonprofits, although they are business-oriented. Would you like that? I was like, yes, give it to me! That’s where I want to be. And I got an interview and here I am.

Carolyn Woodard:  Do you have advice for other people who might be in a tech role and feeling like you were – a little bit misplaced, maybe? You talked to a recruiter. Is there any other advice that you’d give to somebody to try and get into working with IT with nonprofits?

Emeka Okocha:  You have to identify your values. That’s the first thing. What are your values? What are you looking for in a job? What are you looking for in a career? A majority of the people my age, in my generation, are financially motivated. 

Working with a nonprofit, you have to know that you’re not financially motivated. You know that your calling is to help. I believe that my calling is to help. And although I get paid for helping, I love the help part of it, the assistance part of it, helping an organization. 

For example, we have a client called Ocean Conservancy and their campaign is preserving oceans and wildlife. That is something that a lot of people love. You watch videos, you watch documentaries, you see how there are plastics in the oceans and green life is depreciating daily. So you’d love to help that organization out. And that is a value that you have and you know this is where you want to be. 

There are charter schools that help students. These are the campaigns that you want to be at. There are people who are fighting for refugees, like the internal refugee services that I work with. They are fighting for refugees. They’re making the lives of people better. These are the values that I’m talking about.

You have to take a break. You can still be working, but take a time out. Actually say, “What are my values? What is my motivation? What am I called to do in this life? Why am I here on earth? Am I here to help? Am I here just to make money and just go when it’s time?” The number one value I have is to help. I love to help. So working with a nonprofit is where I’m supposed to be.

Carolyn Woodard:  Absolutely. I think a lot of people have some stereotypes about people who work in tech, and it takes all personality types. But is there a certain type of personality that works well at Community IT, or is there anything that you’d recommend people think about? Maybe they wouldn’t think they’d be a good fit, but they might be a good fit anyway?

Emeka Okocha:  Don’t ever think that you are not a good fit in life. And I’ll give you an analogy. Look at our fingers. The holes in there are meant to fit in. You fit in anywhere in life as long as you’re dedicated, as long as you have the passion for it. Find out your passion and work with your passion. 

I spoke about motivation. Financial motivation is good. With financial motivation, you can work as a doctor, you can work as a lawyer just because you want to make money. You can work as a software engineer just because you want to make money. But when you look at your passion, your passion is to help, for example. That’s one of my core values, helping people. You need to look at your passion and see. Create a roadmap, I would say, where your passion should take you.

Outline things that you can look at and say, okay, I love to help. What are the things I can do to give back to the community, give back to life, give back to the human race? Align your passion with your career and you will really flourish.

Carolyn Woodard:  That’s great, great advice. You mentioned earlier that you’re from Nigeria, originally. Would you like to tell us the story of how you came to be here working at Community IT?

Emeka Okocha:  A little background again. I got my bachelor’s in Nigeria and everyone can see the state of Nigeria right now. We are the giant of Africa, but we are at a place where there is need for change. And I’m grateful for my dad. We sat down together and he said, I need you to go to a place where you can find opportunities and no other place than the Land of Opportunities. 

So, I came to the US to get my master’s degree and the intention was for me to go back to Nigeria as I came here as a student. And while studying, discussing with my professors and discussing with my classmates, my eyes were opened to a lot of opportunities here. You can just have your GED and be somebody.

You have a platform to stand that you can make a name for yourself. You can have an effect on your society. So I decided to stay, and what better way to actually give back to the community when your core value is helping than working in IT? 

A lot of people worry about IT day to day. A lot of people think that IT is one of the toughest things to do. And that’s where you come in. You’re able to help them navigate their lives as we use the Internet of Things every day. We help them navigate their lives every single day by giving them a good quality of service. And they do not have to worry about anything in IT.

Carolyn Woodard:  My last question is, when you are in a situation like an elevator or a party and someone asks you what you do and what Community IT does, how do you describe it?

Emeka Okocha:  I tell them I work in a place where we love to help people. I tell them I would even try to bring them into Community IT. Community IT has one of the best work/life balances you can think of. A lot of people would say it’s cliche. I’m telling you it is not cliche. 

I know with coronavirus, with Black Lives Matter, with the whole issue that has happened so far, being in Community IT has opened my eyes to what work/life balance is. A place where once you’re done working for the day, you do not have to worry about what you’re going to face. 

You know that once work is over, it’s time for family and you don’t even have to bring work into your family because the CEO will not allow you to do that. I remember sending an email one time to the director of people services at 8:00, and this is what she said, “Why are you replying to my email at 8:00? You should be with your family.” It was awesome to see you’re not in a space where you worry about work. You have a balanced work/life here at Community IT.

Carolyn Woodard:  I’ve heard other people say that as well, that Community IT has a core value that we don’t operate from scarcity, or only have a few people who are managing way too many clients and trying to help them all 24 hours a day. We do have support for all of our clients, but we don’t want people to be so spread thin that they’re not able to provide the level of service that we expect.

Emeka Okocha:  Yeah.

Carolyn Woodard:  Well, thank you so much, Emeka. I had a wonderful time talking to you. Thank you for telling us your story. And I really appreciate your time. Thanks.

Emeka Okocha:  Thank you, Carolyn and bye everyone.

We hope you enjoyed this Community IT Voices interview with Emeka Okocha, IT Business Manager. Community IT is the right place for you if you find fulfillment in helping others succeed and love mastering new technologies.

Our employees stay and grow with us, and over half of our staff have been with us for over a decade. Community IT is an employee-owned company with a positive, sustainable workplace that promotes professional development and a healthy work/life balance. We have been 100% employee-owned since 2012. Check out careers with us here.