What advice would you give to people who are planning a career in IT?
If you're looking to learn a lot in a short time, start off by working for a small company. You'll have more exposure to more things, whether it's infrastructure or application- or data-related responsibilities, or all of the above. Smaller companies move much faster and have a greater need for people with a can-do attitude to take on more projects and more responsibilities. Working for a larger company is good, too, but which way you go all depends on what feels right for you. Larger companies tend to have more training resources and allow you time to train. In a bigger company, you'll have the chance to specialize in one or two areas.
What made you chose this career path?
The short version is that I was drawn to technology over time. I'm a classics major who went into sales and management right out of college. From there, I tried my hand at my own business. When that didn't work out, I looked around for what I wanted to do. I realized that I really enjoyed working with technology, so I went back to school for programming. From there, I kept trying new things: I took on responsibilities and learned skills that few people in the organizations that I worked in wanted to do or learn.
How do you approach an interview?
If I'm the person being interviewed, I perform as much research on the company as possible. I get a good night's sleep the night before. It's important to have a lot of questions and be prepared. It demonstrates that you've done your homework and are interested in the job.
If I'm the person conducting the interview, I review the candidate's resume thoroughly. I look for something that I can speak to them about to put them at ease. I also make a mental list of areas that I want them to give more information about.
What do you look for in job candidates?
In general, you need to have the proper amount of experience in relation to the position. I wouldn't be talking to you if you don't demonstrate that on paper. When someone is in front of me, I'm looking at their soft skills. Anyone can be taught to be a project manager or programmer or systems administrator. But you can't teach someone to be curious. You canÂ¿t teach them to be responsible. You can't teach them to be a quick learner. These are the main skills I look for.
How much weight do you put on education versus experience or certifications?
Experience is the most important. Education is next. Certifications are last. There are many good people who have valuable experience but don't have any certifications.
Do you think it is a good investment for an IT worker to earn an MBA?
It really depends on what you want your career to be. If you want to take a more technical track, then I suggest you should look at pursuing a post-graduate degree like a master's of science. If you want to be a technology entrepreneur or reach the executive management level - like the CIO's job - then an MBA might be a good thing to shoot for.
Finally, which job skills do you expect to be more in demand in the next few years?
The real skills that are in demand are a can-do attitude. This means you have to be willing to do any job or take on any responsibility, no matter how big or small. The other skill is the willingness to learn. When you combine these two things, you create opportunities for yourself.