The AIM Program continues its series of profiles about the professional work of graduates. The goal is to explore the diversity of work of the information manager and to examine how the field is evolving.
AIM alumni who wish to submit a profile should send an e-mail to the AIM Program at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 800-824-2714, and we'll send you a suggested framework. To date, profiles have been provided by Joel Tachau ('07), Linda Ballas ('05), Peter Battan ('98), Travis Luckey ('09), Connie Atchley ('10), Michael Wright ('06), Hope Angel ('11), Brandon Gatke (’08), and Scott Fenton (’95).
What is your current job?
I am the Director of Information Technology at VTM Group. In this role, I am responsible for short and long-term planning, P&L and IT budget management, IT and software development program management, personnel management, and vendor contract management.
How do you spend your work time?
Much of my time is dedicated to supporting the staff and projects within my two divisions, Corporate IT and Web Services. With both teams, I work collaboratively to define and prioritize objectives, and to ensure that each team member has the resources and support needed to succeed. The rest of my time is spent working with executives, staff, clients, and partners, identifying needs and opportunities in which technology can be leveraged to achieve strategic objectives.
Do you work alone or in a small or large group?
There are over 100 employees across the VTM Group of companies, and I strive to work with and be accountable to the needs of every team and individual. I collaborate closely with other members on the board of directors regarding strategic matters, and I interact frequently with each member of the IT and Web Services departments.
How does your job fit in to the larger organization dynamic? How does it make a difference?
I used to believe that if I was doing my job well, technology would remain behind the scenes, transparently yet effectively facilitating the work performed by everyone within the organization. I have since learned that, while the supporting role is still essential, technology should be brought to the forefront of strategic planning in the board room and should be utilized as a key means for achieving competitive advantage. This line of thinking is what enabled me to light the fires behind VTM's Web Services venture, and that initiative's prospects are extremely good.
How do you measure success in your role?
I gauge success from several perspectives. High morale within my team, as measured through observation, feedback, and low turnover, is a key metric. Another essential is consistently delivering solutions that provide genuine, measurable value while exceeding stakeholder expectations.
At a higher level, I track my personal success with VTM's continued growth and profitability. Through delivering tools and processes with which all employees can increase their value to clients, and by directly generating revenue through client-facing web services, I have a stake in VTM's top and bottom line. The fact that the company remained profitable through the 2009/2010 recession speaks to the hard work and diligence of every VTM employee.
Are there more people doing this kind of work now, than there were five or ten years ago?
I have seen a rise in the quantity and the diversity of IT leadership opportunities. However, as the number of positions have increased, a deluge of talented leaders from both IT and business backgrounds have emerged to fill them. This has led to fierce competition among those seeking roles such as IT Director, VP of IT, CIO, and CTO.
How do you stay current in the field?
I stay current in a number of ways. I am an active member of both the Society for Information Management and the Software Association of Oregon. Learning what is working, what isn't, and what is on the horizon for peers within those networking groups is incredibly valuable.
Meanwhile, when hiring, I seek individuals who are passionate about the field. I can thus count on the members of my team to keep me abreast of new developments within each individual's area of expertise. Being passionate about the work myself, I often skim print and online periodicals such as InformationWeek and CIO.com.
Another noteworthy source of information and trends is from trusted vendors and value added resellers. Organizations such as CDW provide diverse account teams who are able to listen to needs and talk about solutions that are available now or coming soon.
How do you use your AIM education in support of your work?
I sought a Master's Degree and selected AIM specifically because I believed it would facilitate my career growth out of system administration and into IT management. Shortly after beginning the program, I cited the commitment as evidence of my increasing value and earned a promotion from System Administrator to IT Manager at VTM Group.
I was able to apply the knowledge and experience gained through the AIM Program professionally from day one. Almost all of the courses incorporated analyses of real-world issues with which I was wrestling at work, and offered valuable perspective on how those issues could be addressed. Some of the key takeaways were techniques by which I could justify and demonstrate the value of IT expenditures, motivate and inspire teams, and utilize technology as a source of competitive advantage.
Two years into the AIM Program I earned a second promotion, from IT Manager to IT Director at VTM Group. I currently report directly to the President and oversee two departments. I do not feel that these achievements would have been possible in such a short time without having attended AIM.
POSTED: March 3, 2011