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INTERVIEW With Computer World Magazine
http://www.computerworld.com

Full Interview by Sharon Watson for Computer World's "IT Careers" Section
with ART's Vice President - Advanced Technologies
Published Article: http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/story/0,1199,NAV47_STO44280,00.html

 

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Questions:

1. What, specifically, do you see shaping up as the 3 to 5 hottest IT job titles (excluding CIO, CTO positions) in the second quarter of 2000?
2. What specific skills are employers looking for under those titles?
3. What are the salary ranges for each of those titles?
4. Of those titles, roughly how many represent new positions within a corporation and how many represent vacancies created by attrition?
5. What advice do you offer corporate hiring managers trying to fill those positions?
6. What advice do you offer job seekers wishing to fill such positions?
 

Responses:

        In 2000, we still see a tremendous and constant call for CIO's and CTO's at Internet startup firms and for their replacements at their former employers, but aside from these titles, we are seeing a great urgency by employers at large and fast-growing medium-sized corporations for people involved in electronic commerce, supply chain, and certain highly specialized IT groups. The titles, duties, experience levels and compensation packages for these largely newly created jobs vary tremendously. Generally speaking, compensation packages are in the six figures, from 100-400K including base and bonus. In some cases, they may be at a level called Project Manager or Implementer or they could be at a VP or Director level. Titles can sometimes bear little relation to compensation. For example, the compensation at a VP level title might be less than at a Project or Program Manager title. Regardless of title, these positions might require a technical person to have strong business and communications skills in order to totally evangelize and change an existing corporate culture, or they might require a person to simply coordinate outside management consultants who are bringing in relevant technologies. There are no set rules in this terrain
 

     The degree of budgetary power, corporate political power and autonomy that the CEO designates to these new IT executives is usually evidence of the degree of current commitment to or fear of the new technology or philosophy that the company is asking the new person to bring in, manage or develop. Today's lowly Project Leader could be next year's General Manager of a spin-off e-commerce business unit while a VP-level person might find herself or himself a year later alone and isolated by a company that only talked change to silence stockholder fears ("We have appointed a new VP especially to handle that issue"). Each company is talking about Internet and global supply chain strategies, but the reality is that this is all new terrain for everyone, including the "experts" who are often brought in to explain the Vast Unknown and to painlessly and invisibly "fix it." The goals and expectations of the new position must be carefully understood by candidates directly from prospective employers early on, so that they make the right career choices. We try to do our best to help here. After our client-companies tell us their formal job descriptions and expectations, we ask them what they really need and expect. Often they themselves are pleasantly surprised to understand early on that by rethinking their business plan they can maximize their opportunities in today's new environment.
 

General descriptions of these new IT executive positions:
 
Vice President, E-Commerce (for Coordination of Internal Corporate Processes and Conversion to E-Commerce): This position focuses on the reengineering of existing corporate departments and divisions in order to integrate e-commerce, Internet and intranet technologies into their daily operations. A strong and politically able IT manager without e-commerce experience personally could theoretically spearhead this move and be an effective organizer and planner, while working with outside management consultants and e-commerce IT services suppliers, but typically, employers ask for someone who has worked in e-commerce consulting for several years and who has rearranged or integrated e-commerce solutions within large enterprises. The work that this person performs might involve basic Internet matters such as the improvement of the corporate website and Internet or more tricky and sensitive areas, such as the integration of web-based solutions for sales, marketing, distribution, materials, finance and other departments. Given adequate support from the CEO and with superior communications skills (persuasive but polite and thoughtful evangelization), this person can be welcomed by department heads and division heads as a person who can make their jobs easier, more efficient and the company more competitive and profitable. But sometimes, departmental territoriality and a CEO's unwillingness to give this person adequate authority, support or access can make this a very tough job for a conscientious person who really wants to do a good job. Many candidates in these circumstances are best advised to leave for a company that is honestly serious about electronic commerce and entering the 21st Century.

Advice to Employers: Be willing to learn from and learn together with the E-Commerce guru. Do not accept wholesale all recommendations simply because you are afraid of the Internet's effects on your business. There is no well-trod road map for the success of your firm in the new economy, so require the E-commerce guru to justify his or her major suggestions with evidence of success elsewhere. Give authority and/ or autonomy based on trust and achievements produced.

Advice to Candidates: Speak very honestly with the prospective employer about your actual e-commerce experiences, including the pluses and negatives. Since your employers are looking to you to show them the way to e-commerce, in your interviews with them, describe for them carefully a variety of e-commerce options and the implications of their implementation. You do not want to take a job with them and later surprise them, nor do you want to be surprised. You and the employer must understand each other's technological limitations and political will to remake an organization. Some companies will require only minor reworking for them to adapt to e-commerce, while others might require substantial pain. Before taking the job, make certain that you understand the employer's vision of their company as related to e-commerce.
 
Vice President, E-Commerce (for Planned Corporate E-Commerce Spin-off): Sometimes corporations conclude that, at least for the immediate present, it makes best sense for them to either split off certain Internet sales or distribution channels from existing sales or materials departments, or to set them up formally as separate companies. Candidates for this role should have had direct experience doing similar functions at an Internet company, at the Internet divisions of an existing "physical" corporation, or as a consultant for an electronic commerce IT services consulting firm. There is no room for on the job training. Candidates must be highly entrepreneurial and willing to work within a startup-like environment but with certain possible constraints imposed by a hopeful but nervous larger parent company.

Advice to Employers: Make sure that you really need to set up an extra-corporate Internet unit. It might make more sense to hire an Internet sales channel manager and outsource e-commerce elements. Are you setting up a stand-alone unit out of ego or stock price envy more than from good business sense? If this model is good for your business, be tolerant of the more freewheeling business culture that the Internet business model will require. You cannot run it the same way as your other divisions without driving talented staff away and therefore hurting your bottom line.

Advice to Candidates: Make sure that you will want to work in an Internet company that is part of a larger, non-Internet organization. Be prepared for possible jealousy from other business managers within the corporation. If you know what you are doing in e-commerce, ask yourself if you would be happier working at a startup or as part of a well-funded corporation, which is entrusting you with a great responsibility. Unlike the startup world, where failure is considered a useful learning experience, large corporations despise failure and you might find it difficult to be accepted by another large corporation if your e-business unit did not succeed.
   

Vice President, Global Supply Chain:
Some large corporations are setting up separate supply chain/ materials/ purchasing organizations as a means of harmonizing and making more efficient the relationships between suppliers, customers and themselves. Candidates for these relatively new positions can come from a broad variety of experiences, including IT technical management roles, finance roles, or materials and purchasing roles. People might have been within the corporate environment for many years serving the materials, logistics, distribution and purchasing departments, or they might have come from major management consulting firms, ERP software firms or IT services firms setting up global supply chain strategies. Often, people who have had experiences working at supplier companies or experiences working in other countries (bilingual and bicultural a plus) are particularly sought after.

Advice to Employers: Make sure that your team members get along personally. Their ability to work off the same page is every bit as important as their computers "talking" to each other.

Advice to Candidates: There is no universally defined definition of effective supply chain strategies. During your interviews with the employers, make sure that your definition of "sound" supply chain strategies is similar to theirs. In this field it is very common for both sides to speak in buzzwords and jargon excessively. For a very IT-oriented Supply Chain head (as opposed perhaps a mostly finance or mostly materials-oriented person), knowing exactly where and how IT operations are conducted can mean the difference between the job seeming a fun job or a desperately difficult one. For example, if there are significant overseas corporate sites, it might make sense for their managers to have significant input into IT decisions affecting their business units. It might be then more appropriate to have a somewhat decentralized IT operations model. Or, in other cases, it might make greater sense to highly centralize IT. Or perhaps even to outsource. Regardless of the strategy, you must make sure that you feel comfortable with these structures. Global Supply Chain organizations are set up to be "lean and mean." But you might really want a larger IT organization to feel comfortable. Make sure that you thresh over these points with employers.
   

IT Systems Interoperability Fixer:
Some companies are so bogged down with so many different incompatible stop-gap IT patches, philosophies and hardware, that they really are finding it harder to communicate between departments than in the days when they used to just pick up a phone or write a memo to a coworker. Programs, databases and IT solutions are often the prized domain of certain corporate departments, and they might not be shared throughout the corporation. IT managers assigned to break through interdepartmental or interdivisional IT bottlenecks are going to be increasingly valuable to employers. Best preparation for this task is a diplomatic technical manager with solid advanced corporate network management knowledge who can speak effectively to department heads about the benefits of sharing their applications.

Advice to Employers: Prepare the groundwork for change among your managers before hiring this type of specialist, and be prepared yourself to invest in hardware and software and consultants.

Advice to Candidates:   This job involves cajoling as well as being technically able. Make sure that you would enjoy this type of challenge. Prior to accepting an offer, ask to meet the principal department managers whom you will have to work with.


 


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