Career Central - 8

A brief compendium of the IT workplace

Career Path: Compliance Execs

As the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 passed its fourth anniversary in July, the need for security, risk management and compliance specialists has put executive-level information security officers in even greater demand.

Some schools have responded by going so far as to develop a core curriculum for these executives; the University of Fairfax, an online graduate university in Vienna, Va., is one.

"People are having a hard time finding qualified IT compliance officers. Weve built a graduate program to address that need. Its a boutique university in that it only focuses on information security and information assurance. We offer masters degrees and Ph.D.s," Victor Berlin, president of the University of Fairfax, told eWeek.

Berlin said he sees these higher-education opportunities as a response to the wide range of knowledge information security officers must have.

"Its not enough for them to know what a firewall is," Berlin said. "They need to be multidisciplinary. SarbOx is changing on a weekly basis, and people are needed to constantly monitor these changes." Above and beyond monitoring, however, executive compliance officers need to be able to understand what to do with their data. "Data analysis is central to the job," said Berlin.

Your Next Consultant Might Be A CIO

Rather than abruptly withdrawing from the daily grind, many IT professionals would consider consulting as a bridge to retirement, according to a survey released Aug. 22 by Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professional services in Menlo Park, Calif.

Nearly half (46 percent) of CIOs surveyed said they are likely to consider project work or consulting as a way to transition into retirement, with 13 percent saying that they are "very likely" to do so and 33 percent saying they are "somewhat" likely.

Many consider contractual work a lifestyle choice and not a decision to stop working entirely.

"Consulting provides a way for IT professionals to continue leveraging the expertise developed over their careers, earn extra income, mentor the next generation of talent and gain the flexibility to pursue other interests—both professional and personal," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement.

Analysts see CIO interest in consulting as a boon for companies, which benefit from taking on experienced professionals for fixed periods of time.

"Seasoned workers who take on consulting roles help employers bridge knowledge gaps, which makes these professionals a desirable source of talent. To recruit from these ranks, companies are increasingly offering work-life balance incentives, such as flexible schedules and telecommuting options," said Spencer Lee.

Fifty-two percent of respondents werent willing to consider slowly tapering off full-time work, responding that they were "not at all likely" to consider consulting as a pre-retirement gig.

IT to Become Career Gateway, Not Finish Line

The future enterprise technology career path will meander in and out of the IT department, according to research presented at a Forrester Research teleconference on Aug. 22.

"Enterprise IT is going through a metamorphosis. The career path is not as straightforward as it once might have been," said Laurie Orlov, vice president of Forrester, in Cambridge, Mass.

The previous enterprise IT path followed one of four routes. In the sourcing path, an IT professional moved from vendor administration and relations to sourcing contracts and ecosystem management. In the management path, the worker moved from project management to portfolio or IT line-of-business management. The innovation path took an IT pro from a business analyst position through process management and ownership to internal consulting. In the final—and often considered the most exciting—path, the IT worker moved from entry-level tech up the ladder through integration to architect.

While all four paths will still lead to the CIO or chief technology officer desk, the new IT professional will weave in and out of different paths on the way up the ladder. In the future, Forrester researchers said, IT will be considered not so much a finish line but a gateway to other roles in the company.

—Compiled by Deborah Rothberg

The Generation Y Work Force

Called everything from the MyPods to the Baby Boomlets to the Boomerang Generation, theyre quickly filling department ranks. Five reasons why theyre different and why you should care:

* View of work as just a job and not a career

* More job hopping than in any previous generation

* Greater demand for work-life balance and job flexibility

* Focus on end products, not processes

* Expectation of an open workplace where views can be heard without fear of retribution

Source: eWEEK reporting