Career Watch

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Norm Fjeldheim

Qualcomm Inc.'s CIO answers questions about preparing for life after the recession and dealing with a dysfunctional IT department.

New projects are hard to come by at my company these days, but I feel that when the economy improves, the dam will burst and we'll be flooded with initiatives. What would a wise integrator do during these relatively quiet times to prepare for the better days ahead? My thoughts would be to work on improving your "tool box" -- investing in tools to help your company put together and implement its SOA environment, integrate internal and external clouds, roll out SaaS, deploy virtualized environments, etc. Tools you develop now will enable you to put together stronger proposals in the future, at a lower cost. The same thing holds true for developing your skills in key technologies, again to improve your competitiveness down the road.

One other area to consider: open source. Having strong knowledge of open-source alternatives to purchased products can give you an edge over competitors that are only offering packaged software. Giving your customers options, especially lower-cost options, should help you get work. Open-source solutions are going to be increasingly viable in the future.

I've come to realize that the IT department I joined last fall is the most dysfunctional place I've ever worked. Communication skills are practically nonexistent. I'm an IT director, so I obviously can't do much to heal the organization from my middling position, although I am trying to do my best with my little part of the IT world and be a good example for other leaders in the department. Clearly, I failed in my due diligence before I made this move, but what's my best option now? I used to spend a lot of energy (and a lot of sleepless nights) trying to change things and people that were really outside of my control. Now I focus on trying to improve myself and my team. I've found that over time, if my team and I are functioning well, then it tends to be contagious, and other people and groups start picking up our traits.

Of course, some situations are so bad that no matter what you do, it is just bad news and not healthy. There's no sense in being miserable. If this is one of those situations where there is no real hope, then I would continue to do the best job I could, while actively looking around for something better. It used to be that people who moved around a lot were viewed negatively. Now, in many cases, candidates who have experience in different jobs and companies are looked at favorably, as long as the job hopping is not extreme. I don't think a shift from a bad situation is going to hurt your career.

Question?

If you have a question for one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com, and watch for this column each month.

Head for the Midsection

That's where the job growth is going to be -- away from the coasts, according to Forbes magazine, which published its annual Best Places for Business and Careers report in March. Forbes uses several ranking metrics in calculating the overall best places, one of which is projected job growth. Looking at that single category, the 10 top large metro areas are all in the deep South (seven in Texas and two in Alabama) and the Rockies (Boulder, Colo.). Two of those metro areas are on the Gulf Coast, but none are on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. Texas doesn't dominate the top of the list of small metro areas, but it still accounts for three of them. Again, the others are in the South and the West, but none is as far West as the Pacific Ocean.

Best Large metropolitan areas for projected job growth
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Huntsville, Ala.
  • Mobile, Ala.
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Austin
  • San Antonio
  • Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
  • Boulder, Colo.
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Houston
Best small metropolitan areas for projected job growth
  • Auburn, Ala.
  • Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Laredo, Texas
  • College Station, Texas
  • Harrisonburg, Va.
  • Billings, Mont.
  • Bend, Ore.
  • Florence, Ala.
  • Tyler, Texas
  • Bismarck, N.D.

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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