Are you choosing the right career path? May not be!

If you are pursuing education in information technology or recently graduated in information technology or want to pursue career in information technology, do you know that over the years information technology has become very diverse at the same time has very niche fields. Information technology is not just about writing new programs or building new applications.

The reason for above is that most of schools typically teach students to be good software developer or programmer which is not bad as there is also good demand of such skills. But in industry, Information Technology has much wider demand and application. I have hardly seen any curriculum which is more aligned with typical industry requirements i.e. how IT skills are used in a typical organization.

In a typical career path, you will most likely start as a trainee engineer, associate or something like that and then you will make progress up depending upon how well you do.

Firstly choosing right career will define your future. However, choosing a wrong path will destroy your future and you may never recover and may end up doing something every day which you hate to do. Working hard these days is an outdated concept.

Lastly making progress in career is all about learning ‘how to be at right place at right time as well as how long can you stay at right place’. To do that  you must be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn.

We have all taught about ethics and doing right things in right way. But again how well you do is not depend on how you do right things in right way rather how your boss or his/her boss evaluates your performance. I have seen people making spectacular growth for few years and then go down the hill and finally vanish in the organization (‘Humiliating asked to leave’). The issue is not that these people are not good but rather they are not able to develop skills to keep momentum of growth and remain relevant to the organization (One must learn to earn his/her salary and you must have good feel about it). They must time when to unlearn old skills and relearn new skills then make next career move.

Let’s focus on first step! Thai is choosing right career path.

Before you make a choice, question is, what possible career paths are for an information technology professional.

Let’s start with typical organization structure. Most organization will have three types of business units:

  • Planning e.g. Corporate Strategy, Innovation and Transformation, Corporate Planning
  • Operational: Sales, Marketing, Production, HR, Finance, Corporate Communications, IT
  • Assurance: Risk Management, Compliance, Legal, Internal/Financial Controls, Internal Audit

Let’s examine typical IT organisation within a typical organization chart:

  • IT function: IT Governance, Project Management Office, IT Security, Risk, Compliance and Controls, Application Development, Infrastructure, Networking, Helpdesk

IT professionals have multiple career paths and growth in Operational and Assurance types of business units. It just that lot of IT professionals who are graduating or recent graduates don’t know it (I also did not know about till I landed job in Big 4 just by chance and never turned back. It was very fulfilling career professionally)

Now I will discuss following career options and related required professional qualifications:

  • Anti-Money Laundering
  • Compliance Management
  • Data Privacy
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Financial Risk Management
  • Governance, Risk and Compliance
  • Internal Audit and IT Audit
  • IT Risk Management
  • IT Security
  • Project/Programme Management