What Key Professional Qualities do Senior IT Executives Look For?
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
In the world of information technology, change is the only constant.
One often overlooked side-effect of this ever-evolving landscape is the effect it has on the IT workforce. As technology changes, so do the skills and knowledge needed to develop it. The frameworks, project management methodologies, and even programming languages are always evolving.
So how can a technical consultant ensure they remain relevant?
“Technical skills will become obsolete,” says Bob Kress, “personal skills won’t.” As a Managing Director of Security, Co-Chief Operating Officer, and Global Quality and Risk Assessment Officer at Accenture, Bob knows what employers are truly looking for. Senior executives responsible for building best-in-class teams are seeking professional qualities.
Ninos Yourkhana, a consultant at Accenture, demonstrates quite a few of these professional qualities.
"I took about a year... where I had to train, upskill myself, and find a position that would fit my soft skills experience."
- Ninos Yourkhana
After leaving to work at the State Department for a few years, he was welcomed back to Accenture with open arms. Over that time, the technology had changed drastically, but his character and collegial personality were appreciated and left an impression on his employer.
Professional qualities can range from collaboration to business acumen to a positive mindset. While a well-rounded candidate will always be valued, there are a few attributes that leaders like Bob notice immediately.
1. Interest in learning
Most IT job descriptions don’t list curiosity as a minimum requirement, but they definitely should.
An eagerness to learn will keep the consultant up to date with the latest technology trends. With the speed that technology changes, it becomes impossible for any one person to know everything. Experts in any field stay relevant by continually seeking out knowledge and upskilling. To be immersed and engaged is only possible if the consultant stays abreast of their industry’s trends and changes. There needs to be an innate desire to learn is necessary not only for daily success but to create opportunities in career growth.
Finally, this curiosity gives an employee a unique advantage over their peers and the competition alike. A well-informed consultant is better able to explain complex topics, recommend new solutions, and offer insight on the latest innovations to their managers.
When technology changes, we are all affected by how we communicate, how we work, and how we are entertained. It is often dependent on the technology we have available to us. This dependency requires us to be as flexible and open to change as the tools we rely on.
"My personal experience goes to show that having that diverse experience, that fresh perspective... is so valuable to an organization."
- Bob Kress
It’s easy for all of us to find ourselves trapped in thought bubbles.
“We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.”
“This is the way we’ve always done it.”
“Doing things differently will be too disruptive and take up too much time and resources.”
These excuses can be the default unless we actively create solutions. We become comfortable and find ourselves stuck in a routine without any impetus for change Demonstrating your ability to adapt, react, and overcome is essential in the eyes of tech execs.
The idea that a job in technology is best suited for the quiet, reserved, introvert is wrong. Developing a large software project might have required hundreds of hours of coders’ time creating code. Times have changed.
The modern approach to software development is a much more collaborative process. Companies have adopted Agile and DevOps approaches to the development process requiring all involved to work cohesively, collectively, and are often engaged in every step of the process. This is the reason that companies prioritize looking for the right person over a candidate with the exact technical skillset. Skills can be taught later.
"You could be very good at that one skill, but if people don't like to work with you, what's the point?"
- Ninos Yourkhana
In order for a team to truly work together, they must be able to communicate effectively. The ability to explain is as important as the ability to listen and understand. Individual teammates rely on each other more now than ever and this increased need for collaboration requires outstanding communication.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do.
Every employer is seeking strong candidates who can not only adapt to the changing technology but those who can also take the lead and help steer the ship in the right direction.
Problems are inevitable.
Every application, no matter how clean and well-documented the code, will have issues.
Every network, no matter how sound the architecture, occasionally fails.
Every project management methodology, no matter how organized or adaptable, will falter at times.
When difficulties arise, employers are looking for team members that they can rely on.
"I left pre-Agile world and waterfall methodology... I had to face the challenge where companies were hiring people with the latest experience. Sometimes, you have to find organizations willing to take a risk in you."
- Ninos Yourkhana
Employers are looking for those candidates who can succeed despite facing challenges. The ability to demonstrate mental durability is critical to success.
It’s inevitable that the technical skills employers want will change.
The characteristics and personality traits they’re after, though, do not. Your professional qualities, your distinct psychological attributes, are tools you can and will use regardless of your framework.
Join Bob, Ninos, and Tulika for the premiere of Careers and Conversations
on Tuesday, June 2nd
Careers and Conversations:
The Employer and Employee Perspective
About the Company:
Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland.
Based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have a narrow focus on a single market (Chicago) and expertise in 4 innovative technical areas;
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Data Science
Robotics/Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.
Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunity employer.