Planning your IT career in the face of unprecedented change

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The IT Industry is one of the fastest changing industries, where ‘long term’ is measured in quarters and years, rather than decades. Opportunities will vanish, and others appear – seemingly overnight.

Let’s put IT careers in some perspective by comparing the longevity of IT to other departments/functions within the typical organisation:

  • Finance and Accounting: The earliest accounting records were found amongst the ruins of ancient Babylon, Assyria and Sumeria, and have been dated to around 5,000 years BC”
  • Law has been around since the start of civilized society. Some say that it helped underpin formation of civilized society itself.
  • Sales, commerce and trading has been in place since humankind’s earliest records
  • Marketing had its origins in the late 1800’s
  • Management as a discipline pre-dates the Pyramids
  • Information Technology has been around for less than one generation, and has revolutionised the way in which things are done across the board.

Give that the half life of enterprise IT is measured in a few years, how can one plan a long term career in IT?

That’s at the core of the IT career paradox, and where an experienced business mentor who has experience in the IT mentoring of technology leaders can be a game changer for the organisation as well as the individual.

A starting point is to consider your IT career as a business. Model the development of your career along the lines of the IT industry itself, that is:

  • Focus on delivering value to key stakeholders with technology as the enabler, not the primary purpose.
  • Anticipate high degree of volatility and change
  • Expect to be innovative
  • Be able to adapt to rapid environmental change
  • Understand complexity but communicate simplicity
  • Become a trusted advisor
  • Start to see yourself as being separate to the organisation. You have your own identity.

Time to take stock of your specific role in relation to the IT ecosystem, and start building a relevant, sensible, achievable personal business plan – It may just keep you in control of your career for years to come. This is where working with a seasoned IT mentoring coach can help crystallise your career and business plan.