The following points embody the essential traits and behaviors I’ve discovered throughout my career. Most of these insights are lessons from memorable experiences. For the rest, remarkable technology leaders have graciously passed down their recipes for success, for which I am profoundly grateful. I’ve found these impactful learnings to be invaluable, and I hope you, too, will find value in them.
Be in the moment
Practice deep listening. Establish connections by demonstrating a sincere interest in what others are saying. This shows respect and is an excellent way to expand your knowledge.
View technology as a passion, not just work. Concentrate on the domain that fascinates you. Delve into the specifics to form your own opinions.
Make technology your business
As a tool, technology can act as a business accelerator or a business opportunity. Moreover, a well-structured system comprising organizations, processes, and specialists is a social technology.
Understand everyone’s role
This encourages you to appreciate the value each colleague brings. You can maximize the benefits of internal synergies. It also encourages others to recognize the worth of everyone’s contributions.
Group people according to their affinity and complementary expertise. Consequently, some individuals will build things independently but keep them private. Ensure that teams are all moving in the same direction.
Take your hands off the steering wheel and teach others to drive by letting them take control.
Everyone is unique, hence they contribute unique value to the team and the organization. Act as a catalyst. Remember, a group’s value is more than the sum of its parts.
Trust their insights
All ideas matter. Your job is to sort and prioritize them. Trust is invaluable. Lack of trust is like refusing to invest in your people.
Strive to eliminate interpretation and ambiguity. Vagueness impedes mastery.
Your ideas, your approach, your strategy, your time, your directives.
Time and motivation are our most significant assets. Wasting time equates to wasting energy. Avoid exhaustion and demotivation, both for yourself and your team.
Being proactive means working in the future while others work in the present. Lead the way and inspire others to follow suit.
Spread the word about the vision, technological changes, economic dynamics, and mindset. Everyone should understand and know the direction in which the company is heading. Repeat this often. Consistently.
Uncover people’s potential to shape their careers. Provide them with the building blocks to carve their own paths.
Use thoroughly what you sell
Eat your own dog food. Use the product you’ve created to gain a customer’s perspective. Experience their satisfaction and their challenges firsthand.
Approach recruitment as you would a birth
Tailor the job profile, tests, interviews, and selection process. Represent your company, embodying its voice, culture, and brand. You might be meeting your next “business family” member.
Cultivate a culture of knowledge management
Capture wisdom in the form of cookbooks, guidelines, best practices, and design patterns. Pay particular attention to less experienced or newer team members. This relevant and actionable knowledge forms part of the company’s long-term memory. Ensure this knowledge stays current as the world changes daily. Ultimately, use artificial intelligence to source insights from corporate memory.
Champion research & development
Change is inevitable. Therefore, you either shape the future or adapt to it. Your approach is also a reflection of your culture.
Encourage and arrange training
This nurtures your organization’s skills, intellectual wealth, innovative potential, and resilience.
Uncover talents and opportunities
Some are hidden gems, others are rare talents. Your leadership truly shines in the light of their brilliance.
Offer whatever you can, whether it’s time, insights, lessons learned from mistakes, or candid feedback. Be available when your team needs assistance.
Construct platforms for success
Your success is defined by how you contribute to others’ success. Share your journey to achievement so they can learn how to succeed. Celebrate and enjoy your victories together.
There are many job careers to “step up” or “side step” from IT Dev Engineer. The following introduces 14 jobs to which you can start planning your next career move.
Join an ICT consulting company to provide technology consulting. The goal is to specialize in a dedicated technology or focus your attention on a specific technology stack. You are selling your expertise, methods, and best practices.
Thus, your activities will mainly be: installation, configuration, integration, performance tuning, security hardening, and guidance. For example, ELK Stack specialist, Neo4J expert, Microsoft Azure Cloud champion, etc.
Your expertise will be mainly focused on planning, coordination, communication, and budget management. Your experience in IT will also help you to identify pitfalls and manage delivery and expectations. You could also be specialized in Agile Delivery and get a Scrum Master certification.
In addition, you will develop financial acumen. Keeping spending in check is an important part of project management. Decisions, such as hiring contractors, conducting RFP, and cloud service consumption optimization, have an impact on the overall project investment.
You will focus on your functional expertise in the frame of an industry vertical, such as Banking, Healthcare, or Food services, to provide an in-depth analysis of functional and non-functional requirements.
Then, leverage your IT experience to increase the feasibility of the solutions.
Provide thought insights on product feature prioritization
Discover new business trends
Provide expert-level internal support and customer support.
You have a different flavor of architect roles here. To name a few, Software Architects, Infrastructure Architects, or Solution architects will move into the realm of architectural design and increase the scope of your actions and the weight of your decisions.
The end goal is to continuously deliver high-level plans and detailed plans that have been worked out with product managers, business analysts, IT engineers, etc. so that product implementations fit completely to expectations given the resources and constraints.
As a side step, you can focus on other IT jobs such as Ops Engineer, or specialized System Administrators (Sys Admin), where you will focus more on platform automation, reliability, and observability. There is more configuration, administration, forensics, and less coding.
But you will still code. Shell (Bash, Powershell, etc.) and scripting will be your best friends!
You will abide by the good practices of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and ITIL governance, most specifically within Change Management, Incident Management, and Problem Management.
If your mind is more driven by probing things and ultimately driven by quality, this job is for you.
Test engineers focus on elements that are not in line with requirements and the expected “correct” behavior. In addition, they will bend the product until it breaks.
It is all about detecting as early as possible the elements that will go against the fulfillment of the functionality, or hamper the user’s experience. It is a continuous practice as each change has the potential of breaking working features.
They are highly useful advisors as they guide you in the right choice, and the valuable tradeoffs, as IT delivery is often about the decisions between quality, timing, and costs.
It takes another way of thinking, almost reversing the IT developers’ mindset. As a security engineer, you work in the realm of “what if” and “be ready when”.
It is about playing defensive, thinking in terms of security zones, trust limits, sometime in trustless systems (Zero Trust Architecture), and managing identity and access rights.
The ultimate purpose is to erect an unshakable foundation because a crack in your fortress will be undoubtedly disastrous.
Like Tower Defense games, it is a fun job, and Cybersecurity jobs are in high demand.
If you are sensitive to ergonomics, aesthetics, and customer behavior, and you are already acquainted with frontend development, a jump to UX design, and regularly extended to UX/UI design.
UX, as User Experience, focuses on the events leading to the experience, the beginning of the experience, the path the user walks, and the end of the journey.
UX designers will focus on making the moment “enjoyable”, “frictionless”, and sometimes, “memorable”. Hence, the user’s feelings will be considered a critical piece of data during the design exercise.
Alternatively, the UI (User Interface) Design concentrates on the aesthetics, the action of polishing, turning something common into a unique piece that links to brand identity. Masters in this area are considered digital artists.
Then, if you feel the need to lead, coach, mentor, organize, and decide about the next step: walk the path of the IT Manager.
First and foremost, understand that it is primarily about the people as your job continuously focuses on ensuring your colleagues are in the optimal state for fulfilling their job in the most enjoyable way possible, moving away obstacles, and sources of confusion or disorganization.
Start with learning how to manage a team, a small one (1 to 3) to start with. It takes a different kind of skill set for managing people. It is not because you are a sound engineer that you will be a good people management.
Finally, management truly shines when you learn how to be a leader, and even more when you teach leadership.
Data Management Expert
In this case, it is all about the data. Designing Data models, managing existing data (consistency, integrity, etc), releasing new schema, improving query performances, patching data, performing data migrations, managing reference data, etc.
You will perform a lot of data analysis and forensics. Mastery of the meaning will be key and you are highly valuable to your company / to the industry for these skills.
Your sole purpose is to find gold in your data, hence your job is to be a researcher using advanced tools such as statistics, graph visualizations, machine learning, deep learning, etc.
This job is perfect for explorers and pioneers. You will navigate the sea of data (Data warehouses, Data Lake, Data Mart, etc.) often to seek an answer to a question, or in pursuit of pieces of information unseen before.
You will find correlations, clean the data, aggregate them, practice feature engineering, create models, and, to some extent, reuse or create new A.I. architecture.
IT Risk Engineer
This discipline consists in transforming the organization by incorporating risk elements inherent to bad practice and non-compliance to industry standards (HIPAA, ISO 9001, BIAN, …), regulated framework (GDPR, NIS, …), practice standards (ITIL, COBIT, …), and corporate standards.
As an IT Risk engineer, your activities are:
Designing and enriching the risk management methodology
Running day-to-day operations, controls, and governance to ensure the enterprise stays in adequation with compliance.
Coding IT programs that guarantee automatic compliance by design.
Actively mentoring other colleagues in developing risk awareness
Typically, IT risk elements are subject to compliance checks run in the scope of audits.
IT Auditors are the ones verifying compliance with standards and regulations. You can work as an internal auditor or an external (independent) auditor.
You will work within a control framework and an IT auditing methodology to highlight compliance findings and gaps with respect to a standard or a regulation.
For the latter, you will likely represent a body of regulation or a body of certification. Either way, you will more often find a job in the top tiers consulting firms, such as EY, BCG, Infosys, Cap Gemini, or large companies that are either mandated by the regulator to have an internal audit organization, such as in Banking.
Technical writers are experts in writing professional documentation. Your purpose is to engineer documentation in such a way that it will holistically be understood by a specific audience, could it be an end user, an administrator, or a developer.
You structure your documentation so that its information architecture is easily grasped by the reader. In addition, the progression is engineered in such a way that the reader will learn throughout its journey what concepts mean, how they are related to each other, and how to repeat tasks to become autonomous.
A technical writer deeply understands that documentation is part of “the product definition”, therefore it must be polished, finished, visually designed, and user-focused.
Typically, the best documentation promoted by the best ICT companies is written by these experts. They work with Content Management Systems, proof-writing systems, templates, reader-friendly fonts, and rich illustrations, within the consistency of a design system created by a UX/UI Designer.