Will IT Baby Boomers keep working?

Ask a Premier 100 Leader: George A. Vega

The managing director and head of capital markets technology at Wachovia Corporate & Investment Bank answers questions about revitalizing careers, making a big leap and attaining valuable skills.

We’re always reading that IT departments are desperate for good people with valuable skills. I am a seasoned veteran (read: “over 45”) with experience in Oracle databases, SAP, networking and groupware, but I haven’t had an interview in two years. Aren’t these considered valuable skills anymore?

The skills that you list are strong foundational skills and necessary for a position supporting a data warehouse, MIS reporting or a business intelligence function. I suggest you supplement these skills with OLAP and dimensional capabilities and target a vertical market.

I’ve been on a help desk for three years, mostly doing Windows support. I want to move into more of an admin position. Any advice?

Jumping across a job family requires an individual to self-access, invest in training and seek support or sponsorship for the move. I suggest you complete training and certification with Microsoft and Cisco. In parallel, I would participate with an informal mentor (a buddy) or formal mentor who is in the position you desire. Once your training is complete, ask to move into the admin functions supporting office productivity suites. That’s generally a nice transition and path.

What skill today is most likely to provide job security? There are a number of factors that create job disruption. My experience is that they are generally outside of the control of the individual. Having said that, it is important to continually invest in skills that are valuable to the marketplace. I suggest that any skills that enable services are valuable skills in the global environment we work in.

I have a good job as a project manager, but in the long term, I want to do more in the management line. What’s the best way to move into higher management levels? I suggest you take a stretch assignment and participate in a team where you can develop your line skills and demonstrate situational leadership. This will surely provide the platform to get you recognized for a management job. What’s the best bit of career advice you’ve ever gotten? Surround yourself with high-quality people. These should be individuals you can trust, whose skill sets complement your own and who always seek to provide value.

No Boomer Bust?

The assiduously chronicled baby boom generation has long been assumed to be more interested in early retirement than its predecessors, but a survey from late last year casts some doubt on that bit of conventional wisdom.

How would you characterize the attitude toward retirement of the baby boomers in your organization?

Our baby boomers seem eager to retire: 14%

Our baby boomers seem no more eager to retire than previous age groups: 42%

Our baby boomers do not seem eager to retire: 19%

Not sure: 25%

That being the case, the relative lack of urgency about a potential loss of institutional know-how at many companies is more understandable. With respect to retiring baby boomers, how would you describe the situation at your organization?

We don’t expect an unusually large loss of talent with baby boomer retirements: 36%

We’re taking steps to mitigate our loss of talent (for example, by creating ways for baby boomers to gradually reduce their hours): 26%

We anticipate a serious loss of talent and institutional know-how but currently do not have any steps in place to mitigate this loss: 18%

Not sure: 20%

Source: Novations Group Inc. online survey of 2,556 senior human resource and training and development executives, December 2007

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