Career Watch – March 1, 2004

Where the jobs are

106,000 — Projected number of new network systems jobs by 2012

179,000 — Projected number of new applications software engineering jobs by 2012

77 per cent — Percentage of high-tech companies planning to increase U.S. head counts in 2004

2 per cent — Percentage of high-tech companies planning to decrease U.S. head counts in 2004

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and Culpepper and Associates Inc.

Where CIOs come from . . .

Larger companies are more inclined than small and midsize enterprises to cherry-pick from among their own executives for a new CIO. Nevertheless, two-thirds of all senior IT executives are recruited from outside, according to a just-released survey of 607 companies. Analysts speculate that the results indicate that larger companies have a broader pool of candidates from which to choose. Also, they say, company knowledge is a more important CIO selection criterion for companies with annual revenues exceeding US$1 billion.

Sources: Computer Sciences Corp. and Financial Executives International, “2003 Annual Report of Technology issues for Financial Executives”

. . . And what they earn managing your business priorities

As IT organizations look beyond cost-cutting to focus more on creating and demonstrating business effectiveness, IT managers should have four primary objectives, according to Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn. They are creating an IT culture of value management, mastering IT portfolio management, increasing employee productivity and refining core IT processes so they are understood, consistent and scalable.

Harry Roberts, senior vice-president and CIO of Boscov’s Department Stores LLC in Reading, Pa., put it more succinctly: “Without IT, a company simply cannot exist. We enable everything, from efficiencies in the manufacturing and supply chain processes to taking costs out of a business so it can make a profit. Every CIO I know who is successful is the most knowledgeable about their business — much more so than technology. They can surround themselves with other people for that.”

Ask a Leader: Interview with Robert W. Reeg

Title: Senior vice-president of systems development

Company: MasterCard International Inc., O’Fallon, Mo.

What he does: Oversees an IT staff of 600, which recently completed a five-year, US$160 million systems overhaul.

Q: My career goal is to be a CIO of a major corporation. I have been working in IT for over 20 years and hold a master’s degree in computer information systems. Would it be to my advantage to earn an MBA?

A: At this point in your career, having an MBA degree wouldn’t necessarily be a requirement. More important are the experiences you’ve gained and the assignments you’ve completed. One trap that some people fall into is the repetition of the same experience. While you have 20 years’ experience in the workforce, have those years encompassed a wide variety of assignments and positions of responsibility? Does your career show a history of job progression? Twenty years as a programmer/analyst won’t serve as a platform for success at the CIO level. Your ability to be successful in a wide variety of roles is as important as having the degree.

Q: I am currently the CIO at a small company but would like to move up. There is no opportunity in this company. How crucial is an MBA to finding a CIO or director-level job at a medium-size to large company?

A: I would recommend that you get involved in technical boards or forums in your area. Many areas have regional CIO forums that can give you a chance to interact with peers. Second, if you enjoy your current company, don’t be afraid to “move up” outside of the IT area. Gaining a line of business experience can be key in building your resume for that next IT job.

Q: I have just finished my MBA and would like to pursue opportunities in IT management. What is the best path to get your foot in the door as an IT manager?

A: From your question, I can’t tell if you have a technical background already. Lack of a working knowledge of the technology you will be responsible for makes it harder to be successful as a manager. Look to build a solid technical experience base. After gaining technical experience, look for project manager opportunities. Having a technical base and project management skills should position you for more demanding roles in IT management.

If you have a question you’d like to pose to one of Computerworld U.S.’s Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to

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