February 10, 2012, 3:33 PM — Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader
Title: Chief information resources officer for the Americas
Company: Marriott International
Petry is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about certifications, winning a promotion and more. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to email@example.com.
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I'm a network administrator who is committed to keeping current with technology. Lately, though, I've been hearing negative things about certifications. Are they worth my investment of time and money, or should I pursue another course? Rather than look at the certification as a unique event, think about what you want in your career. A career is a balance between education and experience driven by what you want to pursue. Education comes in a variety of methods, be it a degree, a certification or specific hands-on training provided by your company. Companies view all of these components differently, so focus on what makes sense to you, including what you are most interested in (learning is a lot easier when we are excited about it), how you learn (online or classroom), your financial situation (does your company provide any type of tuition reimbursement?) and what your company looks for when hiring (if certifications are required, then make sure you have them as part of your total portfolio of qualifications).
I'd like to become an IT director the next time the opportunity arises. What would best help me stand out among the candidates? Take the time to understand the selection criteria in your company for an IT director position. Take a look at other people who have been promoted in the company into those positions and understand the qualities that they brought to the table. Then take a hard look at your skills and experience and understand the gap between them and what is sought. Now you have ascertained the areas you need to focus on. Build a plan that allows you to develop in those areas. Also remember that sometimes the opportunities are not always upward but that you may benefit from lateral moves to gain experience.