With the constant commoditisation of skills in IT, value is generated at the interface of IT and the business and people who want to make IT their profession need work more closely to that boundary.
That is the advice from Mark Settle, CIO of BMC Software, who has first-hand experience across global markets.
“Schools are not graduating people with the right skills, and there are more obstacles to immigration for skilled staff,” Settle said. “It’s the paradox of the US industry: Every company has growth plans, but not for their IT department.”
Settle who joined BMC Software in 2008, has held CIO appointments at Fortune 300 companies Corporate Express, Arrow Electronics, Visa International, and Occidental Petroleum and has worked across several industries. He is also a former Air Force officer and NASA program scientist.
He says many organisations have a strong preference for finding IT people with three to five years’ experience, for various, valid reasons.
The days where intern programs and work-study programs for students were commonplace have gone, however, this begs the question: how are graduates getting that first three years of experience?
“Some of the larger companies, such as Shell, are doing it... but for a lot of organisations, the days of career progression are gone and it’s now about issues such as staff numbers and budgets,” Settle said.
“In a closed-loop environment like IT, how do you keep people around and expose them to new opportunities? I think people today are far more receptive to new skills and whether they can have an impact on the company.”
Enterprise must look at graduating people from IT along the lines of the business, he said.
At times, it’s little wonder people outside of IT question it as a career progression, particularly over the last 12 months when layoffs have been commonplace and the global external business market has been effectively frozen.
As a company that sells business-to-business tools to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of managing systems, BMC has largely weathered that storm.
“Smart shops figure out the key skills they want in-house and what the year-to-year variation will be,” Settle said. “If you’re not careful, the business decisions dictate the skills and sourcing.”
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