Ashley Hanna passed away on 25th November after a long struggle with cancer. Ashley was a source of inspiration for many in the IT service management industry and has been my personal friend and mentor for many years.
I first met Ashley in 1997. At the time I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and I was attending a Compaq high availability training course. This course was all about high availability technology but on the last day they brought in a new trainer (Ashley) to explain to us how important service management was to achieving availability goals. It was a great pleasure to discover somebody working in the IT industry who really understood the importance of balancing people, process and technology. That same day we heard that Compaq was going to buy DEC, and Ashley and I became colleagues.
Over the 17 years since then, Ashley mentored me and helped me to develop both personally and professionally. I could not have asked for a more kind, helpful, or knowledgeable colleague and friend. We worked very closely together in HP, with itSMF, and with OGC and TSO. Ashley was really proud of his contributions to ITIL and I will never forget what a pleasure it was to work with him. Ashley was the best collaborator it was possible to have. We often sat in our own homes, me in Essex and him in Yorkshire, with telephone headsets and shared screens, creating documents for publication. Our discussions were often lively and heated, but nearly every time we disagreed I eventually realized that Ashley had been right all along.
Many people have spoken to me of how Ashley collaborated with them in different projects, and in nearly every case they tell a similar story. He brought a calm, sensible and thoughtful approach to everything he did. He could defuse difficult situations with his calm, authoritative manner, and any group or committee that included Ashley seemed to run smoothly, with minimal conflict and maximum effectiveness.
Ashley worked at an international level, both in HP and with itSMF. It can be really difficult to work with people from different countries and backgrounds, but Ashley’s ability to understand people from different cultures and help them to manage conflict won him many friends. Everyone he worked with had enormous respect and liking for him, and many of them have contacted me to say how much they will miss his guiding influence.
Ashley was an editor without peer. He could take somebody else’s writing and change it from disjointed sentences into prose that was just “right”. As chair of the UK itSMF publications committee he was responsible for the production of many pocket guides which have been a source of guidance to thousands of IT service management practitioners.
In 2010 Ashley was awarded the UK itSMF Paul Rappaport Award for Lifetime Achievement in Service Management. There could not have been a more deserving and popular recipient of this prestigious award. Ashley’s contributions to IT Service Management really were a lifetime achievement, and he will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues from all round the world.