March 30, 2009, 2:34 PM — Ask an IT Leader
Mark O'Gara, vice president of infrastructure management at Highmark Inc. discusses dealing with users.
Q. I'm always reading in the trade press how important it is for IT pros to understand users and their needs. I'd like to get ahead, so I've tried this, but I just get frustrated over how clueless most users are. I can't seem to react to them with anything but irritation. OK, it's not a great attitude, I can see that. Can I change, or should I give up my hopes of advancing and just hide out in my cubicle slamming out code?
A. If I were to rephrase your question, I might ask it like this: Do I need to interact with my customers to understand their needs and so advance my career in IT?
To me, advancing your career means that you do your job well and help solve problems. For the IT organization to be successful, everyone needs to play their position and support the business needs of the company. If you are a programmer, you do not need to interact directly with end users to advance your career. However, there needs to be a function within IT that has a direct interface to the customer, depending on the size and maturity of the organization. You can advance your career by helping your peers do new things, volunteering to help solve problems, learning new technologies, or simply by excelling at writing great code that minimizes demands on network and computing resources.
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