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Think first if a management role is best for you

An HR expert advises that management work is more about one's experience managing people and complicated situations than about skills and qualifications.
Written by Staff , Contributor on
Looking for IT career advice? Post your question here, and we'll get our experts to answer. We regret, however, that some questions may not be answered due to insufficient information.

I previously worked for a local systems integrator in Singapore for five years as an IT security consultant (100 percent technical hands-on) mainly on network security infrastructure (firewall implementation, intrusion prevention system (IPS), endpoint security and firewall audit).

Currently, I work for a U.S. multinational corporation as a technical account manager, managing some assigned accounts (50-50 technical and non-technical hands-on ) for mainly global banks. This role lets me be the liaison between the customers and my company's internal resources, and I act as an advisor to their endpoint security, as well as perform some frontline troubleshooting.

I am planning for my next career move--to roles like the information security officer/manager. My intention is to move from a technical hands-on role to one that is non-technical hands-on in the IT security arena and eventually be part of the management.

Though I hold the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) certifications, there are domains which I do not apply at work as my job does not warrant them.

I have reviewed some of the job postings for information security officer, but I would like to know what are the requirements or knowledge/experience that I should pursue so as to be eligible for such a position?

Career advice from Richard Talbot, general manager of IT recruitment specialist, Sapphire Technologies Singapore:
Your question is a common one that I receive on a regular basis--how to make the transition from a technical role to a management role.

Before I answer this, as I do with most people, I would like to first question why you are looking to make this career move?

Generally, I find that many people working in roles they enjoy, are very good at and could easily remain in successfully, wish to make a similar career move into a management role as they perceive it to be the best career decision. However, this is something I often question.

The reality is, people who are technically very competent will often earn more money, be happier and be in far more demand staying in a "hands-on" role than in a management role. Many times in the past I have seen people move away from their "technical skills" then lose their role as the economy slows as it is easier to cut middle management from an organization than it is to cut the technical person who actually keeps their systems safe.

I also find that as a manager, an employee may not be in as great a demand as those who stayed in more technically based positions.

That being said, if you do want to make this career move, then you should try and gain more people management experience with your employer and make this transition gradually.

Working in a management role is not as much about skills and qualifications as it is about your experience managing people and complicated situations.

When we receive requirements such as this from an employer, the conversation normally involves: "We are looking for someone with a solid technical background that really understands the technology inside out but we also need someone that has strong experience managing people, dealing with the key stakeholders in the business and ensuring that the team solves problems before they arise".

With these types of roles, it is the soft skills rather than the "technical qualifications/hands on experience" that most employers look for.

My advice to you is to take some time to think about your own personality and skills before you make this decision. If you honestly think your skills and personality are 100 percent suited to a career path in management, then by all means go for it. However, if you are not convinced, then don't rule out following a pure technology based career path as it can be just as rewarding and you will probably always be in demand.




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