Career Watch

ASK A PREMIER 100 IT LEADER
Jesus V. Arriaga


Title: Vice president and CIO

Company: Keystone Automotive Industries
Arriaga is this month's guest Premier 100 IT Leader, answering a reader's question about landing a CIO job. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com and watch for this column each month.
I have a bachelor of science degree from West Point and a master of science degree from Johns Hopkins. I left the military after seven years. I have been a Big Five consultant, network security engineer and software developer. My goal is to become a CIO, but I don't have anyone to advise me on my next move. Any suggestions? The day I set my sights on the CIO position, I determined to put a plan in place toward that goal. What I can offer you are my experiences and what I did to prepare myself for the day that office became available to me.

Jesus V. Arriaga, vice president and CIO of Keystone Automotive Industries
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Jesus V. Arriaga, vice president and CIO of Keystone Automotive Industries
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I quickly learned that to be an effective CIO, I would need a balanced skill set in both technical- and management-related areas. I had the technical area covered because I knew I was strong in both infrastructure and software engineering. But management skills set you apart as a candidate for the CIO seat. As IT people, we can be pigeonholed as the "computer guy." Take management courses and read books on management and leadership principles. You can learn a lot that way.
As you learn, see what you can do to get involved in management-related issues at the companies you work for. I sought out opportunities to participate in meetings and discussions outside of the technical arena. The beauty of IT is that we touch every area of an organization. Departments and business unit owners need IT staff involved to assist with the planning and decision-making process. Most likely, your company's department manager, director or CIO is already involved at this level. Offer your services and become a participant in these meetings and take on additional duties that will allow you to demonstrate the skills you are learning. As you get involved, if there is something you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask questions. Participating at this level helped further solidify my knowledge and understanding of management principles. I also started to get a better understanding of what it takes to run a company.
Having one mentor, or more, who can help guide you through the executive management forest is also an important part of the building process. Although it's a plus if this person is a CIO, what's important is that he is in an executive management role with proven experience that he can share. If you don't know anyone, attend computer conferences where you can meet CIOs. Ask them how they became a CIO. You might be surprised; many are open to sharing their experiences without reservation. One or more of the folks you meet may be open to mentoring you, even if it means just being available to correspond on a regular basis.
Hiring Outlook
Dice Inc. is reporting significant increases in job postings throughout the technology employment market. Since the beginning of the year, postings on Dice.com have risen 26% to 69,957. Much of this growth can be attributed to strong gains in certain metropolitan areas: Philadelphia is up 41%, New York 38%, Boston 36% and Dallas 35%.
Requests for project managers have also shown strong growth since January, rising 42% to 9,611 postings. Demand for programming skills continues to grow this year as well, with .Net requests increasing 52%, HTML 38% and XML 37%. Meanwhile, the demand for people with Perl experience fell 12%.

Number of contract vs. permanent positions on Dice.com as of June 1
Contract: 28,782
Permanent: 45,926
ITAA: IT Doesn't Look Like America
Most minorities poorly represented; women's presence has fallen since 1996

The percentage of women and most racial minorities in the U.S. IT workforce continues to lag the percentages of the national workforce, according to a study released last month by the Information Technology Association of America.
According to the ITAA report, "Untapped Talent: Diversity, Competition and America's High Tech Future," Hispanics, who make up 12.9% of the U.S. workforce, accounted for only 6.4% of the IT workforce in 2004. The figure represents a slight increase from 5.3% in 1996. Blacks, who accounted for 10.7% of the U.S. workforce in both 1996 and 2004, have more proportional representation in IT than Hispanics, at 8.3%. But that was a decline from 10% of the IT workforce in 2000. However, that doesn't mean the U.S. IT workforce is whiter than the overall workforce: There are 6.6% fewer whites in the IT workforce than in the overall workforce. One of the greatest differences between the IT workforce and the country as a whole may be in representation by Asians. They account for 4.3% of the general U.S. workforce but 12.1% of the IT workforce.
Another big difference is the percentage of women. In 2004, according to the ITAA study, women made up 32.4% of the IT workforce in the U.S. That represents a decline from a high of 41% in 1996. In the overall workforce, the percentage of women rose slightly, from 46% to 46.5%. The ITAA attributed the decline, in large part, to the fact that one out of every three women in the IT workforce falls into administrative job categories, which have shrunk significantly in recent years.
In a press release, ITAA President Harris N. Miller said the U.S. "can ill afford to miss out on anyone with the right aptitude, skills and motivation to succeed in technical fields." To increase the number of women and minorities in IT, the organization called for the following:
A stronger commitment from corporate leadership.
Increased corporate outreach and mentoring.
Stronger partnerships between companies and colleges and universities.
More-flexible work arrangements for IT workers.
Base: Data in the ITAA's report is based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Surveys.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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