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What does this description sound like?

(14 Posts)
clarity101 Mon 09-Nov-15 11:10:42


I work in IT, and one word that sums up my career to date is "disappointing". I'm currently employed as an IT Project Manager but things are so rubbish at work that I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I get pleasure from, or dissatisfaction from, at work, and what my ideal job might "look like" if I were to change it.

After weeks of mulling over this, I've written down some of the key principles, which I've pasted below.

I look below me in the IT 'hierarchy' (if this profession has one) and nothing appeals, and yet above me (e.g. Programme Manager), it's just dealing with bigger levels of BS and politically-savvy directors... I'm not sure if it's IT that I've fallen out of love with, or whether it's the type of employers I've worked for.

I have 3 questions, since I know there are such a varied number of employment backgrounds on MN:
(1) can you provide some sort of inspiration as to what job might meet a lot of the criteria below?
(2) Or, those of you in IT - what other roles might suit?
(3) If I were to stay in IT, how could I better identify what kinds of employers are a better cultural match? Aside from manually surfing through Glass Door?

My USP/Strengths:
1. Understands complex ideas / confusion, and creates order from it. Can quickly filter noise to identify a core thread that needs to be pulled in order to unravel ‘what ifs’/chaos so that it can be rewoven into something simple, effective and of real-world value.
2. Develops clear strategies and actions; exceptionally organised.
3. Long-term, strategic thinker.
4. Relentless drive. Focused on tasks.

Known Weaknesses:
1. Building personal relationships (focusing on ‘who’, not ‘what’).
2. Creating rapport with authority figures and team members, where those figures have been deemed lacking in expertise or shown less than 100% competence.
3. Does not respect titles; absolute competence is king, and becomes negative/rebellious when meritocratic rewards go to those deemed ‘non-expert’.

My ideal role/work environment:
1. Having the autonomy, tools, support to automate/simplify routine and mind-numbing tasks. Efficiency is the name of the game.
2. Few interruptions from questioning colleagues or meetings-happy supervisors.
3. Does not require a lot of extroversion for long periods of time/daily. Works alone, or at most in small groups.
4. Competent leadership with clear links between ‘says’ and ‘does’, and where technical excellence/high standards are expected and enforced.
5. Challenging; intellectually interesting. Independence, not tied to a specific set of duties.
6. Has power, but not in the limelight. Privacy can be maintained.

Seriouslyffs Mon 09-Nov-15 11:31:14

I'm not in IT but from reading your strengths I could predict what your weaknesses were going to be.
Can you treat the hierarchies and relationships like another project? It sounds Machiavellian but I mentally note colleague's interests and family situations and even put notes in my work calendar (ask sue about her Mum, boss in Tuscany)
Points 2 and 3 are utterly in you power to change. Are you paid to challenge unfairness? Will it change if you challenge it? Find another outlet for need to see justice served! wink

cdtaylornats Mon 09-Nov-15 23:21:25

You could try to move your project management skills away from IT.

Another possibility is to move into Safety Analysis - I worked on the Hazard Analysis for a new ATC system, writing the Safety Case for it going into service. Its an interesting kind of work and its usually time constrained (no safety case - no going live). You also get the initial look of horror from the controllers when they read the start paragraph "This system shall be tolerably safe" the interesting bit is showing how the requirements implement that top level condition, then how the implementation does, and the mitigation for problems.

Tolerably safe means 1 mid air collision every 10,000 years.

EBearhug Tue 10-Nov-15 01:37:44

Known Weaknesses:
1. Building personal relationships (focusing on ‘who’, not ‘what’).
2. Creating rapport with authority figures and team members, where those figures have been deemed lacking in expertise or shown less than 100% competence.
3. Does not respect titles; absolute competence is king, and becomes negative/rebellious when meritocratic rewards go to those deemed ‘non-expert’.

Why are these weaknesses? OK, you sometimes have to get on with authority figures who are crap (quite a few of those in IT), and obviously team members, but why should I have to suffer fools gladly? And I really don't give a shit about titles (especially as HR have made most of ours completely meaningless anyway.) I do care about whether someone is the right person to do what I need doing, or will know who that person is, but I don't care whether that means they're a direct colleague, or the CEO. (I can't actually imagine a situation in which the CEO would be the best person to talk to about most of my work issues, ind you.) I don't even know what many people's job titles are or where they are in the hierarchy - I know they are the person I need to talk to about Application X or Y. Mind you, I am not sure I have been openly rebellious. And HR seems to approve of people speaking up when they think something is wrong. (Not all my management chain does, mind you!)

And I'm a bit confused about "focusing on ‘who’, not ‘what’" - do you mean you're meant to think about who someone is (e.g. director), rather than what (e.g. in charge of datacentres) or vice versa?

I could have written much of your post. I don't think that "dealing with bigger levels of BS" is unique to IT, though there is definitely a lot of it about.

What sort of company do you work for? I'm guessing it's fairly large, rather than somewhere that just has a couple of people doing IT support. I've mostly been with big corporates. I've also worked in public sector, and while there were some very good individuals, because they generally pay less than private sector, (and IT skills are pretty much the same whether public or private) they don't have the best IT people, and the thinking wasn't quite so dynamic - also, not all things that come under "public sector" are the same - central government, local government, schools, universities, NHS, government agencies, so I would be unfair to tar them all with the same brush when I've not worked for them all. But there are loads of different organisations in the private sector too - maybe a smaller organisation where you get more autonomy and a wider range of tasks could work, or just a different industry sector. Working out the sort of employer you want is a slightly different task from working out the sort of job you want, though obviously there's a big cross-over. One of the things I like about my job is that every day, I speak to people all round the world, and I walk down the corridor and hear loads of different languages - that means I prefer employers who are multinational in one way or another.

I assume you have an HR department, and probably they are signed up to things like performance plans and development plans? Have you talked to someone in HR? Do they have any options like tuition fee loans for training, or a mentoring programme etc? If there's an employee assistance programme, is careers counselling among the services they offer? I'm not saying you should use them all, but if you know what's on offer, it can affect the options you've got available and next steps. People in the company need to know you're interested in other work, which means they need to know who you are, and what things you can offer. Unfortunately, you can't do that and maintain all your privacy.

Project management skills should mean you've got quite a few transferable skills. Finding out what you can transfer them to is tricky (something I've been struggling with for years.) I will think more at a more reasonable hour.

headexplodesbodyfreezes Tue 10-Nov-15 01:46:06

Project management is completely the wrong role for you. You need something that doesn't involve ongoing relationships with people. Concentrate on developing but make sure its in a position where someone else is doing all the business liaison.

daisychain01 Tue 10-Nov-15 04:02:40

Have you thought about a business consultant ie strategic IT role working at the start of the system development life cycle. It's a kind of business partnering role creating system road maps aligned to business strategy etc

Project management is completely the wrong role for you. You need something that doesn't involve ongoing relationships with people.I'm struggling to think of a role on the IT career ladder that doesn't involve dealing with people. It would seriously limit your opportunity for advancement!

I'm concerned you list of weaknesses looks too fixed - a sort of fait-accompli that suggests you won't change.

You sound like I have for the past 3 years completely disenchanted with IT per sey and I finally escaped it altogether. Best career move I've ever made!

Seriouslyffs Tue 10-Nov-15 07:31:22

I noticed the set tone of the weaknesses. OP I'd concentrate on them.
EBear these are weaknesses as Clarity says her career so far has been disappointing although she has many skills in other areas.

BikeRunSki Tue 10-Nov-15 07:35:18

Are you PRINCE2 qualified?

RubySparks Tue 10-Nov-15 07:55:22

Those skills sound ideal for being a software tester! I would avoid working for large corporates though, smaller software houses value ability much more.

ragged Fri 13-Nov-15 21:19:56

What programming skills do you have, Java, SQL, what?

clarity103 Sun 15-Nov-15 14:00:45


I'm the OP, I lost my account details but can't seem to recover them, sorry.

To the point/answer the questions:

1) I don't have any programming skills (I did dabble with web development when I started my career but found it TOO isolated, and too restricted e.g. "please build this" with no room for autonomy and no power to improve or influence ways of working at all).

2) I've previously looked into testing, but see above - in all the orgs I've worked, they focus on procedure monkeys, very few opportunities in terms of test engineering around here, it's all manual-driven script following. Too little autonomy and no power to influence the way of working. Perhaps it would be different in more creative areas of IT (e.g. gaming).

3) I am PRINCE2 qualified, yes. I also have agile working experience.

4) We have a HR department, and it's a large org I work for, but they are not genuinely interested in people development (it's more of a "do a performance review every year, get a 1-5 rating on the bell curve" old school situation). I wouldn't gain anything by going to them, and in fact wouldn't be likely to even get any offer of support even if they had the experience or expertise as many have just been laid off in HR anyway!

I think the comments about my weaknesses seeming to be set are a fair point - it's just that I feel like I've been bending in a way that isn't natural for years now, and I'm exhausted... the comments around finding a role which involves less on-going relationships with people hit a chord, because although I'm competent (and comfortable) dealing with people on specifics, I'm burnt out on faking interest in people or politics longer-term (hence my feeling tired of it all).

ragged Sun 15-Nov-15 14:03:36

re programming skills... In small companies you would have a big say in how algorithms were developed and product development. But need to take the initiative of learning perl-python-Java etc. on your own, too.

clarity103 Sun 15-Nov-15 14:04:22

I thought perhaps applying for technology consulting in one of the big 4 or huge IT consulting firms (e.g. accenture, cap gem, IBM)? Because the challenges/ways of working sound like a good fit.

But then it would still be heavily dealing with people, and they'd be clients, so I'd have to be more people-friendly than ever sad

ragged Sun 15-Nov-15 17:29:25

Consulting is almost pure schmoozing, I think you'd hate it!!!

Can you not look around for project management with another company?

If you want out of project management, your initial post screamed data analyst to me, but A) might be less money & B) you'd ideally want some specific database language. I imagine mySQL is still the bees knees. There must be online tutorials. Then do some volunteer work for charities that need someone to run their websites (lots of charities are screaming for this). You might get lucky & find a small company that needs a basic mySQL person to work free-lance.

With WordPress (it's easy, honest, even i can do it) & mySQL on your cv you could get your foot in the door for data analyst jobs. There's personal politics BS in every job.

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