Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Kenneth Bohlen

Kenneth Bohlen, chief innovation officer at Textron, answers readers' questions about making career moves.

Kenneth Bohlen

Executive vice president and chief innovation officer

Textron Inc.

Fort Worth, Texas

Premier 100 IT Leader, 2006 Bohlen is this month's guest Premier 100 IT Leader, answering readers' questions about making career moves. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to and watch for this column each month.

  • I manage a help desk, but I'm not finding any growth prospects, and I can't make use of my skills. Any advice? -- S.S.

    Not knowing what your skills are or where your growth prospects might be, I offer these thoughts. Help desk employees don't often hear "Attaboy!" or "Attagirl!" They usually hear complaints, and that can drag people down. But the help desk is a vital part of understanding customers' problems. It can be a great way to expand your skills in communicating with the customer and the department. You can also create new ways of helping the customers you support: You could send out a newsletter or put up a Web page in which you do things like list the top items you see customers struggling with and provide advice on those things and other insights. You can always look for ways to hone your skills; you just have to think outside of the box and make yourself more valuable until something better comes along.

  • Most of my experience is as a programmer, but I'm considering training for jobs that are at less risk of being offshored, such as business analyst, project manager and customer relationship manager. Are resources available that map career paths for programmers trying to move into related fields? -- D.S.

    Oftentimes, your own company can be the best resource. It may be able to provide you with some insights and offer training programs that will help you advance in your career.

    You could also pursue certification for new skills in an area like project management or customer relationship management. Check the Web to see what opportunities you can find along these lines. And think about night school at a local college to increase your communication skills. This is one of the biggest challenges for programmers wanting to move to a different level of IT skills.

    Once you've been trained and certified, the next issue is finding out who needs your new skill set. You may have to go to another company, or even relocate, since sometimes we get labeled in what we do at one company.

  • I would like to get a job in Visual Basic programming. What should I do to break into this field? I have experience with HTML, Crystal Report, Microsoft Office, Oracle and SQL. -- M.R.

    You can become a certified Visual Basic programmer with training from Microsoft.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon