Job Title: Deputy Director Of Information Technology For A Commuter Railroad
Type of Company: Public sector commuter rail service in a major metropolitan area
Education: BA, UMass; Diploma, Computer Technology, New York University School of Professional Studies
Previous Experience: IT was a career change for me in my thirties. My earlier jobs in public transit were clerical.
Job Tasks: As deputy director, I am responsible for several areas in the IT Dept. The Assistant Directors in charge of the Help Desk, Desktop Services (hardware and software), Server Administration and Data Networks report to me. Together, we maintain and enhance the computing environment for the railroad. New product evaluations, pilot programs, trouble-shooting and problem resolution are big parts of my day. I meet with other directors to coordinate my activities with theirs and insure the computing needs of railroad operations are being met. I participate in various committees requiring IT input, such as the procurement and development of a new IVR system for giving automated train information by phone. I manage a budget of almost $5m, so I have learned how to use a spreadsheet. I spend a lot of time in meetings discussing a wide variety of company initiatives, and I have gained exposure to the core business of railroading this way. It is very important not to burn out doing only one thing 40 hours a week.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Best part: new technology is cool and trains are cool. Providing affordable, efficient public transportation is cool. Being part of a team that does something well is the coolest.
Worst part: bureaucracy, long meetings, discipline/personnel "issues"
1. Get technical and stay technical.
2. Make sure you like IT before you try to make a career in it.
3. Maintain your personal dignity, but do anything legal and moral that is asked of you (especially when you are starting). The best boss I ever had was one who we all knew would clean the toilets with us if they needed to be cleaned.
4. Be very fluent in the basics: word processing, spreadsheets and databases.
5. Learn a programming language and build a small system, even if you are not going to be a programmer as a career. Similarly, know the operating system level environment that you work in and network a couple of computers, even if you are going to sit in a cube and write code all day.
Additional Thoughts: Learn where to find the answers and use those resources, don't waste time memorizing stuff. Listen and observe, say less.
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