business BLOG


Important message from the Board Chairman and the CEO

user by Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce
calendarWednesday, 15 March
Dan Wagner, Board Chairman

Dan Wagner, Board Chairman

For more than 12 years, the Chamber’s Board of Directors has been grateful to our President and CEO, Tracy Mulqueen, for so skillfully and tirelessly building our organization into one of the most effective and highly regarded business advocacy and service organizations in the region. Now it is with great joy for her, but with sadness in our hearts, that I announce that Tracy has accepted a fantastic opportunity to head up a national association and will be leaving the Chamber on April 17, 2017. While our Board of Directors, staff, members, and partners would love for Tracy to remain in her current leadership role, we are thrilled for her as she moves to this next challenge. 

We also deeply appreciate that Tracy has worked with the Board to recruit and prepare the Chamber’s previous Economic Development Director, Valentina Tomov, to step in as our new President and CEO on April 18, 2017, when she returns from completing her doctoral work in Bulgaria. We are fortunate that this very talented professional will soon lead us in our work ahead on behalf of businesses.

I hope you will join us this Monday morning, March 20, 2017 for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Breakfast, which will be a very special event this year. A buffet breakfast will run from 7:00 to 7:45 a.m. with the program following from 7:45 to 9:00 a.m. In addition to a fantastic keynote presentation by Chamberlain CEO JoAnna Sohovich and an innovative new business awards ceremony, we will say goodbye to Tracy and review the tremendous success local businesses have experienced during her tenure. We will also take a look at all the great things ahead for our local business community.

Thank you for your commitment to the Chamber and Tracy Mulqueen and we look forward to working with you to welcome and support our new incoming CEO, Valentina Tomov.


Tracy Mulqueen, President & CEO

Tracy Mulqueen, President & CEO

It has been an honor to serve as the President and CEO of this organization and to work with such a remarkable Board of Directors and professional staff, members, and partners. While I am excited about this new opportunity, I am going to miss everyone very much.

It is a real pleasure, though, to know that Valentina Tomov – a strong, smart and experienced leader – will be stepping into this spot as I leave. Many of you had the privilege of working with Valentina when she served for two years as the Chamber’s Economic Development Director. As you know, she excelled at working with our board, commercial real estate community, government partners, and members to achieve tremendous and challenging goals on behalf of businesses. I know that going forward you will see Valentina take the Chamber to extraordinary new levels of growth. You will love working with her.

Please know that I truly appreciate everything that all of you have done to support me as I have served the Chamber and I will always be grateful for this extraordinary professional experience.



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Peters & Associates Answers: Ransomware – Should I pay?

user by Jenny Stanko
calendarFriday, 10 March

The “right” answer is no, you shouldn’t pay the ransom. This is similar to the stance the government takes when dealing with hostages. In principle, not paying ransom diffuses the whole process – the bad guys don’t get funded and the effort is for nothing.

Does it ever make sense to pay the ransom?

Consider this – I just read an article by Armor, Ransomware as a Service fuels explosive growth that said the average ransomware demand is about $679. Depending on the size of the company, downtime, and number of employees affected, recovering from a ransomware attack could easily take a day. We need to ask ourselves, does the cost in time, effort, loss of productivity, and possible loss of work for a day exceed the ransom demand? At a low, low price of $679, it may be a no-brainer.

While it is great to take a stand and not let the hackers get away with this, it is ultimately a business decision – one that may make sense.

What if they don’t give you the unlock key?

Depending upon the ransom demand, the decision to give it a try may be relatively simple, but you must decide whether the roll of the dice is worth it.

I’m willing to bet they will give up the key. Why? Because if hackers get a reputation for not producing the key, guess what – nobody is going to pay the ransom demand and the hackers aren’t going to make any money. They want to keep this party going for as long as possible!

In short, you need to make a business decision.  If the dollar figure is small enough, pay the demand, chock it up to payment for lesson learned, and tighten up the security in your organization. The amount of money required to restore operations and the cost of downtime may easily usurp the dollar figure for the ransom.

Not sure if you have all of the correct security implementations in place? Do you know how Bit Coin works? Do you have a game plan for when it happens? The organization I work for, Peters & Associates, can help you assess your gaps and guide you through establishing a long-term strategy.  Contact Peters & Associates to speak with one of their security solution experts at info@peters.com or 630.832.0075.



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Run, volunteer, or sponsor People Resource Center’s 5K

user by Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce
calendarTuesday, 28 February



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Indiana Tech partners with the Chamber to reduce tuition!

user by Talented Workforce Committee
calendarTuesday, 28 February

Indiana Tech and the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce are working together to make pursuing a degree an easier and more affordable endeavor for its member company employees. In partnership with the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Tech will reduce your undergraduate or graduate tuition by 20 percent!

Members can click HERE for more information. This link is designed for the Greater Oakbrook Chamber member company employees to request more information about Indiana Tech.


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Oak Brook Park District to introduce teen service camp

user by Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce
calendarMonday, 20 February

Local teens will have service hours at their finger tips this summer thanks to a new program offered by the Oak Brook Park District. From June-August, Tic Tac Toe, or T3 for short, will provide teens the opportunity to participate in up to seven comprehensive service projects designed to positively impact the community.

T3 stands for Teens Impacting Communities, Teens Activating Citizens, and Teen Outreach and Empowerment. “We know that there is a demand to fulfill service hours and we have the connections and the opportunities to help these kids reach their goals,” says Karen Spandikow, the district’s assistant director of recreation.

According to the program supervisor, Amanda Piasecki, the service projects are designed to get teens out of their comfort zones and develop a broader world view. Piasecki has worked with local organizations such as the Hinsdale Humane Society, Northern Illinois Food Bank, and Project Linus to provide a diverse range of opportunities for teens to participate in productive work.

The 7-week camp runs Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9am-3pm from June 13-August 3. On Tuesdays, teens will complete necessary prep work and research at the Family Recreation Center, 1450 Forest Gate Road. Projects will be completed on Thursdays at a different location each week.

Service projects will include reading to seniors and children, environmental clean-up and recycling, work with the Hinsdale Humane Society, and assisting with the Special Olympics. Participants may register week by week, or for the entire series. “Flexible registration allows teens to sign up for projects they feel connected to, which will help them stay engaged,” says Piasecki.

Registration for T3 will open on March 13 for residents and March 27 for nonresidents. Registration for is $84/week for residents and $109/week for nonresidents.

For more information, please contact Amanda at apiasecki@obparks.org or visit www.obparks.org/recreation/camps.asp.


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Peters & Associates advises on untapped Office 365 features

user by Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce
calendarMonday, 20 February

The pace of change in the cloud can be overwhelming. That’s why we took the time on January 10th to help educate Office 365 customers. During our hour long webinar, we detailed some of the lesser-known and unheralded Office 365 features that can provide significant value to Microsoft customers. The most important part about this: In most cases, you already own the licensing. This webinar was all about helping you to leverage the technology investments that you’ve made.

If you weren’t able to join us on the 10th, it’s your lucky day. In this blog post, I’ll recap some of the features that we covered. As a side note, we ran a couple of webinars of this same title back in early 2016. About half of the features discussed and shown last week were new to our presentation.

As usual, if left untethered by reader attention-spans and time constraints, this post could stretch a few pages. However, I will be demonstrating restraint today and keeping my synopsis brief. If you would like to dive deeper on these features or other topics, reach out to your Peters & Associates account manager or info@peters.com and we can schedule a conversation. Let’s get to it…

Mandatory, Dreaded Licensing Paragraph

As mentioned above, this webinar was all about educating Office 365 customers about the lesser-known components of Office 365. The components that customers already own, but don’t fully understand yet. I am not a Microsoft licensing junkie and I will only discuss licensing to the extent that this webinar recap requires. I have that narrowed down to two sentences. Every feature discussed is available in E3 and E5 licensing plans. Some, but not all of the features are available in Small Business and E1 plans. If you need more specifics, I’m happy to answer questions in a follow up conversation.


Office 365’s Untapped Features

For the presentation, I divided these untapped features into two categories: Productivity and Security/Compliance. The first set of features that I will discuss fall under the Productivity category. These are the features that Microsoft added to help your users work smarter, collaborate more efficiently, and, generally, just get stuff done faster. The next set of features that I will discuss are the Security/Compliance features. These are the features that help to secure your organization’s sensitive data and to meet industry or vendor compliance policies.


We highlighted 6 features that Microsoft introduced to help organizations get more done. Here are the productivity features that we covered, along with a high-level explanation of their functionality:

  • Office 365 Groups – A collaboration platform that Microsoft introduced to help employees to work together outside of normal organizational siloes. Groups includes shared calendars, email, a conversation feed, a notebook, and files. As opposed to traditional workspaces, Groups is based around the idea of end-user driven collaboration.


  • Microsoft Teams – Teams is the most recent edition to Microsoft’s collaboration toolset. Building on the strengths of Groups (and including some integration), Teams emphasizes chat-based collaboration and integration with third-party tools like ZenDesk, Google Analytics, Constant Contact, and more.
  • Office 365 Planner – Planner is another feature that is based on the premise of Groups. Planner is a light-weight project planning platform that includes task creation, assignment, and process tracking. Integration with Teams and Groups adds more value to both platforms.
  • Azure Active Directory – Some of you may be familiar with Microsoft’s Azure AD Premium offering as part of their Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite, but many don’t know that they have a lighter-weight version available with your Office 365 subscription. Azure AD allows you configure Single-Sign On to third party cloud applications like Salesforce, Dropbox, Box, and 2,700 others. This saves your users from having to remember multiple sets of credentials and reduces the chance that they will continue poor security habits (like writing down their passwords). Advanced features like universal Multi-Factor Authentication and Self-Service Password Reset are available in the premium offering.
  • SharePoint Workflows – Many people know SharePoint as a document management system – which it does a good job of. However, the openness of the SharePoint platform often abstracts some of its strong process-based features. SharePoint Workflows can help to automate processes and increase efficiency. To help make the value of this more concrete, we’ve developed an out-of-the-box solution with pre-built workflows for HR departments. Ask your account manager or email info@peters.com for more information.


Security and Compliance

In addition to the productivity features that we covered, we spent a good deal of time on the security functions included in Office 365. Here are some of the security features in Office 365 that you may not be aware of:

  • Data Loss Prevention – Data Loss Prevention is a compliance tool that is built into Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business. It is a tool designed to prevent sensitive information from going to the wrong place. Sensitive information could be credit card information, social security numbers, other compliance standards, and any custom identifiers that you choose. This compliance engine scans documents and email to identify sensitive information and allows you to determine how it should be dealt with.
  • Message Encryption – Exchange Online Message Encryption is an email encryption solution that can be applied to emails based on Data Loss Prevention policies or other mail flow rules. This is a great tool for protecting sensitive information or allowing employees to encrypt any email that they choose. Authorized recipients inside and outside your organization can view the email contents securely.
  • Information Protection – Information Protection is a step beyond message encryption. Information Protection is document and email-level security. It allows for rules and actions that can take place on a particular document or email – prevent editing, prevent printing, prevent save as, prevent forwarding, etc. This can be applied to email, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business. Microsoft also has a premium offering that extends this functionality to on-premises file servers.


  • Multi-Factor Authentication – Originally introduced for administrator accounts only, Multi-Factor Authentication in Office 365 has been extended to all users. Requiring a 2nd factor of authentication (like a mobile device code or phone call) can greatly increase the security of your environment. This is an especially important feature for administrator accounts.
  • Mobile Device Management – Mobile Device Management has become an increasingly important technology as organizations expand their Bring Your Own Device policies. Microsoft has built Mobile Device Management into Office 365 – allowing administrators to require passwords, force encryption, provision corporate email, and selectively wipe corporate data on devices. This is a subset of the features provided with Microsoft’s Intune solution – but still a substantial offering for basic Mobile Device Management Needs.


This is just a subset of the features that Microsoft adds and enhances in Office 365 on a regular basis. As I mentioned at the outset, this forum doesn’t allow me to dig deep in this particular post. We will have future posts that discuss some of these features at a deeper level but if you’d like to learn more, contact us and we can talk through your Office 365 strategy.

Be on the lookout in the next couple of weeks for blog posts and webinars that explore Peters’ HRPortal solution, Microsoft Teams, and basic Office 365 collaboration strategy. In the meantime, email us at info@peters.com to discuss how your organization can get more out of Office 365.



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Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce presents Annual Meeting and Awards Breakfast – March 20, 2017

user by Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce
calendarMonday, 20 February

The Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Awards Breakfast will be presented March 20 at the Marriott Hotel from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Enjoy a fantastic breakfast and special keynote address by Chamberlain Group CEO JoAnna Sohovich. JoAnna is a seasoned leader and executive across multiple and diverse manufactured-goods businesses spanning industrial, commercial, residential and consumer end users. Ms. Sohovich is also an independent director for the Barnes Group, Inc., a member of The Committee of 200 and a retired Navy officer. She holds a BS in Economics from the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from Santa Clara University.

The breakfast will run from 7:00 to 7:45 a.m. The program, keynote address and awards presentation will follow from 7:45 to 9:00 a.m. The Chamber will again present the Model Workplace and Champion for Young Professionals Awards and present two new awards for Exceptional Service and Under 40 Leadership Recognition.

We invite members, partners and friends to be our guest at this always important annual event. Please register online at www.obchamber.com. Please also feel free to contact Jenny Stanko at 708-609-4163 or jstanko@obchamber.com for information about this event.

CLICK HERE to register for this event.


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Suite 100
Oak Brook, IL 60523