The skills to develop to thrive in technology professions

From programming and digital business expertise to management and collaboration skills, there are many professional skills that young IT professionals need to hone in order to rise to the top.

But where should you focus your attention to climb the tech career ladder? Five industry experts give us their opinion.

1. Explain and be ethical in your team

Danny Gonzalez, director of digital and innovation at London North Eastern Railway (LNER), a rail company, says there is no escape: if you want a technical job, you will need strong skills.

To that end, his organization is investing time and money in building the skills it needs to pursue a data-driven digital transformation agenda. “Take machine learning, for example: several members of our team take different types of machine learning development courses to learn these specialized skills,” he explains.

However, Danny Gonzalez also believes that soft skills are what help you accomplish big things, especially when you start taking responsibility for work schedules. “You have to take people on this journey. They have to be passionate about what you’re trying to do,” he said.

“Individuals must use the right behavior to work as a team. We can’t do anything in the company alone – we depend on almost every other area of ​​it. If you don’t bring strong soft skills, you won’t can go very far because everyone comes together to get things done. »

2. Use your technical and non-technical knowledge

Stephen Booth, CIO of Coventry University, says that anyone who wants to work in IT needs to have technical skills, but by far the most important skills are the right attitude and the ability to connect with people.

According to Stephen Booth, the focus on soft skills is even more important because many of the traditional tasks performed by IT professionals have been taken over by external providers. The remaining internal staff may have to deal with a change in orientation.

“The roles are changing,” he said. “Yes, we still have pure coders and infrastructure engineers. But the cloud brought big changes. The former server engineer is now one who manages a relationship with a vendor to provide service. »

This shift in roles and responsibilities means that successful IT professionals must deal with a wide range of people with diverse requirements. According to Stephen Booth, the most effective employees use their technical knowledge to help the company solve its problems.

“You have to understand the technology, so you can translate the requirements and needs. So you still need this technical basis. But more and more, we’re looking for people who can communicate and translate what people want into this thing that they’re doing. »

3. Become an influencer

Bev White, CEO of recruiter Nash Squared, also says that soft skills are important for professionals looking to successfully climb the career ladder, especially those looking to move into leadership positions. “Being able to get along with people, be a good leader, and be able to motivate and engage people is really important,” he said.

Being a purely technical specialist “is not enough”, added Bev White, because someone who avoids honing their soft skills will not see the value of creating a strong culture within teams and the importance of developing a compelling mission for change.

Additionally, increasing responsibility for elements of the technology stack by non-IT lines means that business communication skills are essential for what remains of the core technical team.

“I think what we’re seeing here is that the role of IT leadership is becoming broader,” he said. “High-level professionals have to interact with a large number of people who perform business functions, which used to be considered technical functions. These days, digital experts come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, soft skills are important, because you need to be a very good influencer. »

4. Develop your presentation skills

Daniel Smith, head of analytics at clothing brand PANGAIA, says IT professionals need to be able to present data and show businesses the benefits of digital transformation projects.

“That’s where we see skills shortages — both in terms of ranges and communication skills,” he said. “Even becoming familiar with something like Power BI can help. Once you start using a tool, it helps you become familiar with all the tools you use. »

Professionals with the ability to present data must then hone their more general skills, especially a confident communication style.

Daniel Smith gives an example from his own work. He recently spent time with the internal impact team to try to help them meet carbon reporting requirements. After listening to their requests, Daniel Smith was able to define the technical work in a format that the business can understand – and he says it is probably an essential requirement for all IT professionals.

The best description I can give them is: “It’s a carbon balance sheet that looks like a financial balance sheet, but it’s only about carbon. And they said, “Yes, finally, somebody explained it to us.” And so, for me, it’s the soft skills. Because it is by getting this problem from the company that sometimes becomes painful.

5. Adopt the right behavior

Mark Bramwell, CIO of the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, explains that despite the general need for technical skills, his department always looks for core values ​​in new recruits.

“Technical skills can be taught, but behavioral skills are very difficult to change,” he explains.

“We are always looking for key elements around our values, such as honesty, trust, respect, excellence, collaboration, entrepreneurship. If people can show and demonstrate these skills, they are the kind of people we want have in our organization, and I want to be part of my team. »

Source: ZDNet.com

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