February 08, 2010, 9:17 AM — Top dogs in the data center come into their positions from all sorts of starting points.
John Regan, director of data center services for PricewaterhouseCoopers, started his career in networking with the professional services firm 16 years ago, then got involved in the engineering and facilities side of the operation.
Jim Carney, executive vice president of data center planning at Citigroup, has a background in marine engineering, public utility infrastructure and a TV broadcast network. Even at Citi, he first worked within the real estate group before jumping two-feet first into IT and the data center. (See related story.)
And, then there's Rick King, CTO at Thomson Reuters, Legal. After teaching high school math for six years, he moved into management at an educational software and hardware company and then an HR payroll business before an acquisition brought him into his current role, which includes executive responsibility for several data centers.
The takeaway? If you're in IT today, no matter what level or discipline, you can set your sights for top-level data center management and, with the right career moves, achieve your goal.
So where to begin? These and other data center experts share their advice.
One skill after another
First, you've got to have a broad skill set — or be willing to develop one — and be comfortable with that, King says.
Increasing your skill set is one sure way to prove your worth in the data center, agrees Rockwell Bonecutter, data center technology and operations lead for North America at Accenture, a technology services consulting company.
"It's important to gain a skill set within a certain discipline, but the more you can branch out from there to understand how your specific area of influence affects other areas in the data center and how those systems or capabilities can collaborate with each other in order to deliver a business outcome, the more likely you are to move up in the pecking order, and the more respected your opinion on such things can be," he says.
If you're the storage expert, ask to do a stint as a manager of a server or telecom group, King suggests. "If you desire to progress to management and get into a director-level position, you've got to have experience with multiple disciplines," he says.