Career Watch

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Scott Penberthy, the chief technology officer at Heavy Inc., responds to questions, offering thoughts about trust and the issue of youth vs. experience.

What are the most important skills for an IT professional to have to advance his career? Be someone people can trust to get a job done — and done well. Trust is something that takes months and years to build, but seconds to destroy. Begin with the little things at work. If you say you're going to call, call. If you see someone in the hall and mention you'll send an e-mail, send it. When asked to get something done, ask what date they need it, then determine a day you can reasonably accomplish the task. If the date is unreasonable, say so and offer an alternative. Then deliver. Hit your date.

Trust is not about being nice and agreeing to do everything as asked. In fact, it can mean getting in people's faces, when warranted, to figure out the right answer for your company. Bring bad news up quickly, and don't hide it. Your colleagues, boss, partners and customers will learn to trust that you'll do as you say. They'll see you can practice your art of IT in delivering a solid solution, in time. That lets them do their jobs reliably.

Scott Penberthy

A year ago, I received a bachelor's degree in computer science, and now I am one semester away from getting an MBA. My problem is age. I am in my mid-50s, and I find there are very few, if any, companies willing to hire someone in my age group. The lone interview I have had was with a large utility company, and as I left, the HR representative commented that they were looking for someone younger with no corporate experience. Do I have a chance to re-enter the computer field, or am I doomed to shoveling concrete as I did after being discharged from the Navy many years ago? If you see yourself as doomed to shovel concrete, that's what you'll do. If you see people as reluctant to hire you because of your age, that's what you'll experience. We get what we expect.

Change your perspective. Focus on what you want to do, where you want to go. You offer what young college graduates cannot. You combine an experience rich with teamwork, organizational behavior, proven entrepreneurial drive, business management — all topped with the latest in computer science technology.

The HR person you met sounds like a loser. Don't let the losers pull you down. Instead, package all you have to offer, attack the opportunities with the vigor of youth, and expect to beat others hands down. Guess what — it works.

Just Because They're Remote,

It Doesn't Mean They Aren't Engaged

Remote and home-based workers consistently were more likely to choose one of the two most positive answers (typically "strongly agree" or "agree") when presented with these statements:
Office workers Remote and home-based workers
I am not seriously considering leaving my company within 12 months. 46% 53.2%
Considering everything, I am satisfied with my company as a place to work. 63.6% 73%
I am proud to tell people I work for my company. 63.5% 70.4%
I have confidence in the future of my company. 63.8% 70.1%
I would gladly refer a friend. 55.4% 62.3%
My company supports employees' efforts to balance work and family/personal responsibilities. 56.7% 62.6%
Management shows concern for the well-being and morale of team members. 48.9% 56.2%
Senior management demonstrates that employees are important to the success of the company. 50.7% 58.2%
Senior management gives employees a clear picture of the direction the company is headed in. 48.6% 54.1%
When my company's senior management says something, you can believe it's true. 44.3% 52.5%
In my company, there is open, honest, two-way communication. 43.5% 53.9%
My manager does a good job at "people management." 56% 64.3%
My manager treats people fairly. 67.1% 73.8%
My manager gives me useful feedback on how well I'm doing my job. 60.4% 66.7%
Source: Kenexa Research Institute's 2007 WorkTrends survey of more than 10,000 U.S. workers

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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