Current and future IT Leadership

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK.

I read with interest Computing’s 10th September 2009 article, Developing the IT Leaders of tomorrow . I have been within the IT industry for approximately 15 years. I became fascinated by IT while I was managing my own business.  The business was subsequently sold to make way for my new IT career, throttled along by John Major’s promise of Europe’s largest semiconductor plant to be built locally in Wales by LG. That was badly timed as the semiconductor market shrank soon after and LG never moved in. IT jobs were at their peak with such a shortage that I remember reading Computing and Computer Weekly editions almost an inch think, primarily with IT related jobs.

How did I plan to enter the IT fraternity? Well, having left school without any O or A levels, I studied part time towards a HNC Business and Finance while working full time and followed that with a B.Sc (Hons) Business Information Technology. During the degree, I found a placement at a local business and by the time I qualified, I had been working in an IT department for a few years. Comptia, Prince 2 Practitioner and ITIL qualifications followed with full membership of the Institution of Electronics and Technology.

In 2005, I joined a business and subsequently became the Head of IT. Redundancy followed in 2006 and since then I have been assisting businesses and the public sector through interim opportunities.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, that’s because I consider myself lucky as I have the qualifications, experience, business, IT skills and to add icing to the cake, came through the IT ranks having started as an assistant network administrator.

The statistics that I am reading are most interesting. 40% of CIOs are sourced external to the IT department, 54% of IT staff feel that there is no scope for progression, 14% of 2008’s IT graduates are still unemployed and in 2010 7,700 more IT jobs will be outsourced. Here is both a statistic and fact, in 2008-9, BT received 4800 applications for 130 jobs! These statistics do not promise much of a career for aspiring IT leaders.

We are experiencing a shortfall of people applying for IT degrees as many students realise that there is no scope to enter the IT profession, after all, why would a business want to employ a local graduate for the average graduate salary of £17.5K when they can get three outsourced graduates as part of an outsourcing contract. I highlighted this in my blog, recently, The future graduate and the IT and computing skills shortage . The recent decision by the government to ensure that job vacancies are advertised in local job centres and Job Centre Plus online for at least a month prior to allowing foreign talent is a step in the right direction.

I have no doubt in my mind and agree with Computing’s article that we are sat on a skills shortage time bomb. So, what do we have to do? To create the IT leaders of tomorrow, we have to cross the initial hurdle of convincing the youth of today to join the IT fraternity. We then have to provide them with the same opportunities that I had to build up the skills and experience. That combined with appropriate IT degrees/qualifications that are aimed at meeting business requirements (View my blog, as above for more detail) is what is required.

If on the other hand, we as a nation can only pay our IT graduates a salary that is just above the minimum wage, then we are destined to be followed by an industry dominated by the large outsourcers. I am passionate about IT and what it can achieve and remain committed to do what I can to further this cause. So, in my comment to Computing (Most of this article was posted as a comment), I told them that if they needed assistance, all they had to do was call on me….

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About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

4 Responses to Current and future IT Leadership

  1. mubbisherahmed says:

    Robert Edwards, Information Assurance Analyst (Self Employed), after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    The article reads more like a resume about the experience of a single person rather how to develop an IT Leader. Leaders are not made overnite they are grown through years of experience first through systems administration, to Security managers to Project Managers to senior leaders. But leaders forget where they came from and learn a new trait called politics and its the power of being in charge that drives. It is this political control that is ruining IT as the laws and regulations direct us to follow these steps, but due to political fallout. The path is redirected by management who think they can do it better that the way the law states.

    Stuart Brown, CRM Business Analyst/PMOreplied:

    Hi Mubbisher – another interesting article and good to get a sense of your background.

    As Robert mentions, your article does seem to focus on your experiences rather than how to develop and grow IT leaders. Perhaps you could do a follow up which covers what businesses need to do in order to grow IT good leaders and provide examples of good IT leaders that you have come across in your career?

    I do enjoy reading your articles, but this one does seem to be more of an advertisement as to why you would make a great CIO rather than what makes good IT leaders in general.

    I replied:

    That’s what I like about the web, I always get given direction. You are both correct, it started life as me just replying to the Computing article and then deciding to adapt it for the blog. Yep, it was partly frustration on my part and partly advertisement. Frustration both on account of finding it challenging to create an appropriate role in the current climate and that the occupation that I am passionate about will find it hard to attract new blood.

    It breaks my heart when people ask me advice on how to enter the IT profession and I have to inform them that they would be better off trying their hand at another one, including my daughter. Its different for the likes of myself as we have the experience and love what we do. I cannot justify recommending IT, if at the end of it they will struggle to get a job at .

    Stuart, I do like your suggestion, I’ll put some thought into it and will post a relevant article soon and thanks.

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Dr.devendra Dwivedi, research officer-gender & development at utthan sustainable & poverty alleviation national n.g.o.,allahabad, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    IT leadership is extensive and can be exploited by the extension system in knowledge extension and transger of technology.IT leadership has very positive effect on indian institutions because they have to complete with with the students of developed countries.to cope with challenges posed by the leader of ngo,the teachers and leaders have to produce quality product at par with world institution at reasonable quality.the leadership professionals are required to identify teacher approach,which could provide continupus,relevant and modern technological message to the reachers and students on the technological package,quality production,processing,value addition,post teacher technology….

    I replied:

    Thoughtful comments and I agree that it can be exploited by transferring those skills to the leaders of tomorrow. Developing countries do that quite successfully and I wander whether in the western world, Leaders don’t lead and do not instill into their workforces and employees what it is that is actually required from them. Leadership skills have to be taught and passed on in many cases to produce leaders. Many a time, history has taught us that Leaders find themselves in Leadership positions where leadership has just been thrust upon them due to a catalogue of events. So no one factor creates Leaders but certainly the skills can be taught.

  3. mubbisherahmed says:

    Dr Ajay Srivastava (ajaysrivast@gmail.com) Manager (Utility Data & Survey Operations) at BCRS, Bahrain, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    IT co.s need to realize that that too much emphasize to management degrees and certificates like PMPs are damaging the industry as it provides opportunity to intrude into the system for the persons who lack knowledge, understanding and vision because they dont belong to the core domain and thus affect the environment and outcome of the projects adversely.

    I replied:

    I agree that a problem of academic degrees and certifications is that they do not teach the soft skills required to become leaders. Leaders have to be visionary and have to take measured risks. Within IT, Leaders sometimes will not listen to their innovation departments (that is if they have one) even though the innovative way forward could provide competitive advantage by being too risk averse. Organisations that are risk averse, lack the will to become tech leaders and thus never gain competitve advantage and are left to think about the innovation that they could have exploited, was exploited by someone else and what could have been!

  4. mubbisherahmed says:

    Pratik Mehta Network and Security Professional, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    Interesting articles . I am an international student, after Reading this I suppose I should stay in UK for a little longer time as indications of shortage mite fetch me a job.

    I replied:

    The skills shortage is a future prediction and the time lines are uncertain. Best of luck in your search for a job though.

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