The IT industry is one that is still in its infancy really, compared to other life-changing industries of the past century and how long it took them to progress. I remember when I was in high school (early 1990’s – I’m dating myself, I know) and it was a huge deal when a friend of mine got…a computer! It was in his home (how amazing!!) and it had this thing called America Online where you could sign in (as long as his mom wasn’t on the phone) and chat with other people…all over the world! That was just about 25 years ago and now almost just about all aspects of our lives are touched by, improved upon, or changed with computers and technological advances.
This has obviously created a need for individuals who invent, support, implement, and improve upon said technology. The range of talents needed to be successful in the IT industry is huge. The days of just repeatedly stating “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” as an IT professional are a thing of the past (although that is still a very good question!). Today there are hundreds of specializations, each that require their own unique set of skills and knowledge base. However, there are some universal traits that the greatest and most proficient technology professionals will have.
Commitment to Learning
It’s understood that a technology specialist will have an impressive educational background, but it’s crucial that the gathering of knowledge doesn’t end when a diploma is in hand. There should be a constant quest for new information, a readiness to explore many lines of thought and gather insight from as many sources as possible. When a person has the drive and desire to continuously learn – that makes them extraordinary.
If you believe what movies and television tell you, than it would seem “IT guys” are shy, nerdy, quiet, unobtrusive, docile beings that just live to serve the machines and avoid human contact. We in the business world know better! Technology specialists are most effective when they are masters of communication and are just as comfortable in front of a boardroom as they are in front of a computer screen. It is also best to speak more than one language – and by that I mean they can speak technical jargon, they can speak in numbers and bottom lines, and they can speak to non-technical people and relay information in ways that is easy for them to comprehend.
There is an old saying “If you can’t do what you love, love what you do.” To me, an important element of someone who is going to be successful as a technology professional in any capacity will both love what they do AND be doing what they love. They have a passion for diving into their work and getting the best results possible. They can end their day with the satisfaction of knowing that everything they’ve accomplished has purpose and is important. They are reliable assets because they want to be there, putting in the effort to see the fruits of their labor come to fruition.
No one goes into every single work day or project knowing exactly what issues they’ll encounter. Surprises happen (sometimes good, sometimes bad) but your best technology pro will not crumble, they will flourish! A person who is adaptable can take situations or details that they have not accounted for and work with them, instead of having those things work against them. They will not be afraid to seek help from other more knowledgeable sources, or to use new techniques they have learned. They can reach into other areas of expertise outside of their own and look for solutions. Any specialist who can bend and not break is the most valuable resource to have.
As hard as it is to admit – with most things in life mistakes will be made. If you are the person to make those mistakes or the one who did not prevent those mistakes from being made, it is important to hold yourself accountable. Even a small miscalculation can have huge ramifications when you are dealing with technological issues. A truly great professional will not delay matters by trying to place blame or find out who could have been MORE responsible for the error – they will accept the issue as it stands and put all of their energy into making things right.
From what I have studied, these core behaviors and personalities are going to be present in the most successful individuals who work as technological professionals. Regardless if a company needs someone who specializes in cloud computing, disaster recovery, SEO, networking, resource management, business intelligence, research, programming, systems management, or engineering – in is imperative to have the very best people in these positions in order to bring value to their business.
I am a person who cares about people, and technology, and technological people!