General discussion


Unqualified IT managers

By wordworker ·
Recently I was in a meeting with a vendor, a company who licenses software to one of my healthcare clients, and I couldn't believe my ears. The Chief Technology Officer of this high company (with >$500 million annual sales) didn't know what VMware was, and had never heard of Citrix.

Is it just me, or is there a really bad trend in corporate America to promote "business" people to high-level management positions within IT? I mean, how can any self-respecting person function in a CTO position with so little knowledge of the IT world?

No wonder there aren't any career paths for REAL technology professionals -- airheads are being promoted instead of gearheads.

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

91 total posts (Page 2 of 10)   Prev   01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05   Next
Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -

Agree that Current Tech Familiarity Necessary

by A_dangerous_mind In reply to Agree 98%

I agree that a current and firm understanding of current technology and trends is necessary. I've worked more in the development world, and upper level managers who do not understand current development practices run the risk of losing good developers. If they direct their subordinates to continue archaic practices based upon their own 1980's experience with COBOL and FORTRAN, shame on them. Having good subordinates who themselves are up on current trends and technology and asking them for their take is also necessary. What the upper managers may receive may not be a reinforcement of their sentimental memories the way we did things back on good ol' COBOL, but it will be realistic. If an upper level manager surrounds himself or herself with yes-men (yes-people?), though, a source of realistic feedback on current trends and technology may be strangled in the cradle.

Collapse -

So explain it...

by Larry.Johnson25 In reply to Agree 98%

I've been a developer since 1987, when we were called "programmer/analysts." Back in 2000, I asked the exact same question: "What is Citrix?" because at that time, I didn't know. Now I do, and I still use it regularly.
My point is, everybody has to learn something for the first time.
So, explain it, along with a few alternatives, and move on. That's what it means to be a part of a staff who's job it is to inform and influence the decision maker.

Just my two-cents -- which is usually over-valued.

Collapse -

As they say

by dafe2 In reply to So explain it...

The only stupid question is the one that isn't asked.

As I said in my post a leader does not necessarily need to know the answer, just where to get it.

I'd rather work with somebody that asks the question, Be it a leader or a Peer for that matter.

Your sentence:

"explain it, along with a few alternatives, and move on. That's what it means to be a part of a staff who's job it is to inform and influence the decision maker."

says it all actually.

Collapse -

are expert nurses also goog nursing managers

by d.lambrechts In reply to Unqualified IT managers

As always, it's anoying to find managers with little knowledge in high positions, but on the other hand, we need to answer the question as to what is the role of a manager.

It's a known fact that the best technician, nurse or cop, isn't always the best manager, because management requires other skills than those required in the field.

BUT, there is an other aspect as to the promotion of people: they are always promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. This is the real reason why so many managers are lacking to manage what they are supposed to.

So, the real problem is not that managers aren't technicians, but is how to avoid to promote good people to a level of 'not coping' anymore.

Collapse -

Is this why CTO lifespan is about 1 year?

by Questor1 In reply to Unqualified IT managers

The larger the company, the shorter the career lifespan of a CTO or a CIO.

Is is plain irresponsible for a CTO to not be familiar with the most basic software such as VMware or Citrix.

Some may say that a CIO or CTO has "people" skills in addition to tech understanding. It sounds like your CIO is missing at least one of these base requirements.

Your CTO should hang onto his hat, because lack of tech understanding will cause him to lose his job shortly unless ha has political connections within your company!

Collapse -

Don't judge hastily

by Skibum In reply to Unqualified IT managers

It was only after peeking my head out of the Windows cocoon after 20 years did I first hear of VMWare. Citrix I've heard of, but the point remains: There are many situations where even an ueberboss may not be exposed to certain IT requirements or vendors, even in the $500 million range. It's not an excuse not to think in the alternative, but hey, some cocoons have pretty tough shells.


Collapse -

Airheads versus Gearheads

by jim.snitil In reply to Unqualified IT managers

One of the biggest challenges I can think of is taking a gearhead who knows and thrives on the nuts and bolts of making technical things work and trying to make him a manager. Although I agree that you must have been living in a cave to not have heard of VMWare or Citrix, so long as the CTO has been prudent in both hiring the right technical types while providing them with the proper work environment to flourish and grow, he stands a good chance of being successful. An airhead versus a gearhead typically can navigate more effectively with other airheads and it becomes the gearheads responsibility to educate the CTO to effectively deliver the right messages without the tech-speak which leads to funding approval from senior airheads and new toys for the gearheads.

Collapse -

Unqualified in WHOSE Eyes?

by psinaz In reply to Unqualified IT managers

An IT Manager's job is to hire qualified personnel, maintain standards, and ensure customer satisfaction. Without performing the first two tasks correctly, the third will never come about.

IT Managers interact with many other personnel, not just IT ?gearheads?. A successful IT Manager must interact with other Management Staff such as Sales, Accounting and Human Resources, just to name a few. Today's IT Manager should have a good general knowledge about hardware and software, however the deep down specifics belong to the technicians.

Unfortunately, many IT Technicians and "gearheads" do not possess the ?management skills? needed to properly run an IT department. Many IT Technician?s that wish to move into management roles take business management courses so they may see the ?overall business picture?.

Collapse -


by jdmercha In reply to Unqualified in WHOSE Eyes ...

"A successful IT Manager must interact with other Management Staff " very true. Generally speaking this requires a people person. Typically sales people are the most people oriented while techies tend to be the least people oriented.

"many IT Technicians and "gearheads" do not possess the ?management skills? needed to properly run an IT department" By the same token, many accountants do not have the management skills to run any department. And many good managers do not have the skills to run an IT department. This makes it more difficult for techies to become managers, because they are not expected to be capable.

What you want is the best of both worlds. Someone with both business and technical skills. Having both myself, I can tell you that the business skills are much easier to learn than the technical skills.

Collapse -

Airheads vs Gearheads

by macleemac In reply to Unqualified IT managers

Since I'm one of those non-techie managers let me add my perspective.

My job is to make sure you have the tools you need to do your job, to run interference for you when customers complain you didn't respond quickly enough, to manage a budget, do all the paperwork that you don't like doing, and to keep you in the loop on the 'big company picture' that will impact both your job and the technical infrastructure you support. Your job is to keep that infrastructure humming because, as with most of the gearheads I know, that is what you really like doing - not the administrative stuff I deal with.

Keep in mind that IT changes so quickly these days that no one knows every nuance of every application, interface, or architecture. Thus senior managers will probably have technically competent middle managers or employees who are valuable resources when they need technical answers / information - or they turn to industry magazines, etc. Finally, it's still a fact in business today that senior managers making very expensive business deals want to deal with other senior managers. Thus any questions about VMWare, Citrix, etc. will be directed to a 'technical representative', not to the CTO.

The trend to promote 'business' or 'sales' people into high-level management won't change anytime soon. But there are two things you can do about it. Become that 'technical representative' who is the mentor / technical guru for the CTO. Or, if you really want to become the CTO, then work out a professional development plan with your manager that will get you the education and varied business experience you'll need to get there - keeping in mind that, long-term, that track will move you further and further away from the hands-on, day-to-day technical stuff.


Back to Community Forum
91 total posts (Page 2 of 10)   Prev   01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05   Next

Related Discussions

Related Forums