Sustaining Your Career
During Unsettled Times
In the evolving
world of work,
what you can
do and what
value you can
create is where
the action is.
SUSTAINABILITY, or creating economic prosperity without wreak- ing ecological havoc, is very much on the minds of executives at big brand companies like Coca-Cola, American Greetings and UPS. Career sustainability, or lifting your personal brand via consistently
Thornton A. May
is author of The New
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and executive director
of the IT Leadership
Academy at Florida State
College in Jacksonville.
You can contact him at
delivered, measurable enterprise value while
maintaining some semblance of work-life balance,
is top of mind for the millions of underappreciated
IT professionals today. The world of IT work is in
the early stages of fundamental change.
Ongoing research at the IT Leadership Academy
is teasing out a framework for understanding the
right kind of leader for the right kind of technology. Despite the tragically out-of-step musings of
certain career coaches, largely cosmetic changes
like adjusting the font on your résumé, adding a
certification or two, or rephrasing the personal
objectives you list in your cover letter will not cut
it in the new world of work. This is not a time for
tweaking; this is a time for transformation.
I T work requires a massive rethinking. In a series
of international workshops, we asked a large and
diverse group of senior IT executives three questions: What careers did they dream of when they
were children? Could they ever envision I T being
the kind of job a child would dream of? And what
was the biggest surprise or memory they could
recall from the first 90 days in their current jobs?
As expected, no one had dreamed of becoming a
CIO as a 10-year-old. And everyone was understandably skeptical about IT professional ever replacing
firefighter, cowboy, ballerina, astronaut or athlete as
a career aspiration. But what surprised us was that
not one of the memories the IT execs could recall
from their first 90 days on the job was pleasurable.
Gone are the days when it was enough to be a
plumber, a mechanic, a project manager, a digital
baby sitter for a tragically technology-illiterate senior
management team, or a janitor who cleans up data
messes. At the IT Leadership Academy, we have
forensically analyzed “what gets people fired” in
today’s world of I T work. At the top of the I T food
chain, you can do all the traditional things right
and still end up in the career chipper. IT leaders
prospering in the new world of work exhibit three
core traits, which form what we call the new ERP:
Educate (self-educate), Reach Out (connect to
thought leaders) and Produce (deliver value).