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Career Story: Chief Information Officer At A Communication Company

Chief Information Officer At A Communication Company

Job Title: Chief Information Officer

Type of Company: My company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the ownership, operation, and development of wireless and broadcast communication tower sites in the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. The company leases antenna space on multi-tenant communications sites to wireless service providers, and radio and television broadcast companies.

Education: University of KwaZulu-Natal PhD, Electronic Engineering •• University of KwaZulu-Natal MSc, Electronic Engineering •• University of KwaZulu-Natal BSc, Electronic Engineering ••

Previous Experience: I established and led a research and development team of software and electrical engineers that developed algorithms and software to determine spacing requirements between antennas on shared antenna towers and sites. I was given additional responsibility to turn-around and lead the IT organization in 1997. The private company I worked for was established in 1995 and built and leased space on antenna towers. Primary customers included cellular and land mobile operators.

Job Tasks: My key responsibilities include overall responsibility for providing IT services for the company. The group I lead determines business requirements, identifies IT solutions to meet the requirements, implements and supports the solutions. Key success factors include the ability to build relationships, lead people, and understand the business value of technology.

A typical day involves meeting with staff to get status updates and to provide direction, meeting with internal customers to build relationships and understand business requirements, and researching technology and meeting with technology vendors. One of the largest projects that I was responsible for involved the merging our IT technology and staff with those of a company we acquired. This was an 12 month project that involved many meetings with our counterparts to determine which systems and people to keep. Once the decision was made we spent the next eight months implementing our decisions. My responsibility included making sure that we were on track, that we had enough people, and addressing issues when they arose. Of course, I relied heavily on my direct reports who had their own staff.

Another major project involved the replacement of 13 financial systems with a new Oracle ERP system. This project cost over $20 million dollar and involved a large number of consultants.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The most fun part of my job is investigating new technology and seeing it implemented successfully by meeting business needs. Unfortunately this part of my job is only a small part of my responsibility and most of my time is spend meeting with people. The worst part of this job is trying to satisfy everyone.

Job Tips:
1. Realize that running IT at a senior level is more about people and leadership skills than technology. The IT field is fine for a technology savvy person by if you wish to progress in your career you must develop your soft skills.

2. IT is a service function in most organizations so if you truly wish to develop technology, target high tech organizations where technology is the business and not just a support function.

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