What skills/attributes do you believe will be critical for success in the job market of the future?
Continue to learn – The only constant about technology is change. I can’t remember who said this, but I have found it to be true. So you will need to keep an eye on technology and how people are using it.
Communication – both written and verbal. If you cannot communicate your ideas you are going to be relegated to a life of frustration.
Passion – love what you do.
High Standards – this does not mean you should be a perfectionist, but you should always be looking for ways to improve things.
Listen – be able to listen to what others have to say. A different perspective helps to give you a bigger picture.
Rigid, but flexible – be able to work within a structure, but also be able to step out of it when the need arises. It is a rare system that accounts for all circumstances.
What initiatives or projects at Pitt or in the city of Pittsburgh has you most excited?
The biggest initiative that I am currently involved in that I am is Research Data Management. This was something I got interested in a few years ago, and when I started to look at it I realized it was more than just an IT issue. It will be something that will have involvement by several areas with the University, and it really does go against one of the core functions of a research university.
Not really a project, but technologies that I am excited about and expect to see evolve within the University is 3D printing, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things. I think these technologies that are going to be incorporated into our lives much like the internet, cell phone and now smartphone have become.
Can you talk a bit about the importance of managing stakeholders in your different roles? Has the prevalence of technology helped or hindered your effort in this area?
I cannot stress how important communication is. Not all communication is equal nor does it have to be. Different stakeholders are going to require different levels of communications and even different ways of communicating.
Some examples might be, updating a user on the status of a help ticket an email might be sufficient while discussing the problem with the engineers involved it may require a face to face meeting. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting is a just easier and more expedient.
I find when I am exchanging repeated emails or IM’s with someone, I reach a limit when I just pick up the phone or go to see them. It usually ends up saving quite a bit of time.
Technology need not be involved in the communication channel, sometimes I find the most effect method to communicate an idea is to draw it on a piece of paper or whiteboard. As drawing app become more available and electronic whiteboards there could certainly be substituted.
Part of what you are doing is managing expectations. And the way you communicate to stakeholder may differ from one group to the next or even by individual.
An example, communicating to a customer or a client an email with general information may be sufficient, but when talking to an engineer they are going to require a different amount of detail. Even in communicating to your supervisor is different in how you might talk to the CIO.
I know as I have had to ask engineers for the “management” answer. Which is usually yes or no rather than I going through the whole process of what has to be done.
Think back to when you were in school, somewhere between 22 and 24, what would your one piece of advice be to students setting out on their first information job?
You do not know everything, but don’t stop that from questioning things. So you will probably start in an organization that has an established way of doing things. Especially if it is a big organization. You are a fresh set of eyes and bring new perspective so, ask why things are done a certain way. But also do not assume the reason is stupid. Sometimes things need to happen a certain way.
This is the time in your life when you are probably least encumbered by responsibility. Use this time to explore, to take risks.
Do you see telecommuting becoming a more prevalent option (in the US or at Pitt) due to the relative ease with which people can not only work but also collaborate from home?
There may be a small increase in this occurring, but I do not think it will be significant. Some of the resistance to telecommuting is cultural, where other are there are some jobs or aspects that cannot be removed from the location of the job.
How do you strike a balance between incorporating a new and innovative technology and maintaining quality and security for Pitt’s users?
It helps that my background in Information Technology. So I have the perspective of a system administrator as well as security. So this is always how I have to look at systems. There are times when the technology implementations have not caught up to the enterprise market and we just have to wait before we can do anything with it.
I will look for some key elements like how would it interoperate with our authentication systems, will it touch sensitive data, and so forth.
Also, I don’t do this alone. The area I work for has an established project management process, and through this, the necessary groups are involved from our Enterprise Architect, Security, Engineering, operations, marketing, and support groups are engaged at various stages in the project implementation process.