This topic was created by Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter.
Dear Dominic, The Reg Career Agony Aunt
Following a suggestion by a Reg reader, I'm going to experiment with being a Career agony aunt. As a City headhunter for quants, algotraders and ITPros I do this already, but usually on a one to one basis.
The idea is that you put up dilemmas, fears, questions, etc and I pick the ones I think will be generally interesting and for which I can think of a decent answer.
Be aware that although I write for the Reg, I have no access to the system that runs this forum, indeed I hardly ever get invited to the Reg offices being only a humble freelancer. That gives a decent degree of anonymity, just so long as you don't pick a user name of the form DepressedSteveBrownAtCapita, but conversely being what the system marks as "Anonymous Coward" makes it hard for me to link back.
Also be aware that the answers will follow my standard writing style which I characterize as "malicious frankness", lots of examples on the Reg and elsewhere allow you to see what that means.
Re: Dear Dominic, The Reg Career Agony Aunt
Finally ... my question is answered. It really is supposed to be "bored", not "board".
c.f. this post.
I wonder how long it'll take my latest fanboi to downvote this comment ;-)
Dear Dominic, The Reg Career Agony Aunt
Sorts of things I will cover are dealing with difficult colleagues, which tech is likely to help your career, qualifications/certifications, pay, outsourcing and the latest entertainment to come out of IBM HR...
I'm bored. Also irritated.
I'm sick of writing applications and designing architecture for corporates who only do boring things with the stuff I produce and never, never provide anything resembling an interesting challenge and I'm irritated with Contract Agents who know less about IT than the inferior sandwich I ate for lunch did.
I'd like to get out of this malarky and do some of what you do instead. Actually knowing what the technologies do and are for has got to be better than sending automated spam emails looking for Java Test Team Leaders because a 10 year-old CV had JUnit on it. (I removed that pretty damn quick).
How do I go about this?
How can managers that actually have a clue what they are doing, get along with their team members well, are not psychopathic nihilists, and want to do a professional job (you know....not lie to clients, delivery quality, highlight issues that are impacting the business) not get fired or managed out of the business?
I am a bit of geek but do have social skills (indeed I speak to sales...you know why? If they don't sell I don't get paid!) and yet am utterly useless at bollocks politics. Why are so many senior managers insecure in the roles that if you make one suggestion that is not 'on message' (meaning my way or the highway) with passion you get managed out of the business?
Why is it wrong to be forthright when critiquing? Its not to shame people...its to improve the business! Why can't these people understand this?
I do rather find it very perplexing...
Good, well thought-out questions, IMO ...
Sounds like it's time for you to become an IT consultant ... Consultants are paid (very well, I might add) to tell management what they are doing wrong. Employees, on the other hand, are fired for providing the same info at a much lower price-point. Traditional management doesn't really grok IT, and seems to enjoy throwing good money out the window to maintain the so-called "organizational hierarchy". A smart IT-bod will capitalize on this and strike out on their own. Eventually the share-holders will notice this complete waste of money ... hopefully after I'm fully retired.
Yes, amfM, I'm taking candy from babies. Beers all 'round?
I second what jake says, being a consultant gets you sprinkled with the magic pixie dust that is "credibility". Being an employed drone makes you just a number; because they employ you full time, they do think they own you. The ability to bite your lip and blindly toe the party line is a skill under-rated by most techies - the guy I sit next to has learned how to do this, and has a much less stressful time than those who care too much (like me).
Point in case - I argued constantly with an Ops manager on how to implement the monitoring solution for the Application / DB / OS stack. I found out later that he hired an external consultant to go through my work afterwards and find any flaws - at a cost of 3000 GBP. He didn't find anything to complain about, but if he had, I could have been down the road. (The guy next to me slipped me the report after the manager left.)
jake & AC
Thanks for the comments guys (or gals) . I appreciate that a great deal!
Consultancy sounds interesting. Never done it myself. Had dealings with consultants in the past though. Usually rectifying their cock ups. Then again I worked closely with another who was actually pretty damn good. Didn't use bullshit management speak when he was talking to the troops.
Thing is that one is still an employee to a consultancy and given my past experiences with some of the so-called big 5 I don't think there would be much difference between the two (in terms of my first post). Unless you mean as an independent consultant. Now that I would be interested in but I have no idea how to go about it. I don't have much in the way of certs, just 20 years of managing front line support & infrastructure teams. No degree, just a knack working with techies/sales/management* and dealing with escalations without going pyscho.
* management in terms of operational aspects of escalations and the such...keeping the right people informed in the right manner. Its when you (as a manager) delve into areas that need improving and get shot down its insane. Had a case where a bunch of mission crit kit was out of service by the vendor so made a business case to replace kit , was rejected due to cost, while some people were rewarded with some pretty extravagant and expensive gestures. Clearly the business was at risk. The attitude was that we'll fix it if it breaks. Despite my business case showing the cost to the business in the event of a failure. Unfathomable to me. The cost of new kit was minute compared to the cost of the extravagant gesture.
Re: jake & AC
I mean strike out on your own. But at first, keep your day-job while stacking the deck in your favo(u)r. Don't talk about what you are trying to do with your cow-orkers ... but *do* see if you can get your existing employer to pay for some of it. Be discrete. Claim you are trying to move up within the company.
Take a couple adult/night courses at an accredited (Jr.) University or Poly. Management 101, SOHO 101, Economics 101 ... Talk to a career counselor about what you are trying to do, s/he will be able to point you in the right direction, according to the courses/classes available in your neck of the woods. The object here isn't to become a manager, but rather to manage a small business. This will be enough to set up a brick & mortar store-front and pitch your offerings to local small businesses.
If you want to make big money, get an MBA. It won't help your IT ability, but it'll get your bid on Fortune 1500 company contracts read rather than filed in the circular file ... I hold an IT-related Doctorate, but I just use the MBA after my name when bidding on Fortune 500 jobs ;-)
One other thing I put on the contract bids: My CA Contractor's License Number ... If you want to design and implement largish data centers, get a General Contractor's license ("Main Contractor" in blighty, I think). Here in California, I'm a CSLB licensed contractor (A, B and various Cs, a couple Ds). Why? Because I got tired of over-paying contractors when (re)building data centers.
It sounds daft on the surface, but honestly, the MBA and CSLB License have opened more, and bigger doors into IT work than any of my engineering degrees that are related to IT ... Is it an easy solution? No. But once you've done it, it's done. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with but a single footstep.
Don't get me wrong ... I use the general engineering and IT specific degrees on a daily basis. I couldn't do this at this level without them. But even without those degrees, I'm fairly certain that in the right hands, an MBA and CSLB license coupled with your 20+ years in the trenches would combine for a yearly income that most "senior level managers" could only dream of.
 Whatever that means.
Re: jake & AC
senior managers - directors and above in essence.
appreciate the post jake. Not sure there are such things as contractors licences where I am at present. Still definitely worth investigating.
Pint - This one's on me :)