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Career Story: Director Of Information Technology For A Construction Company

Director Of Information Technology For A Construction Company

Job Title: Director Of Information Technology

Type of Company: I work for an open-shop construction management firm that specializes in interior office build-outs in the 128 suburbs of Boston.

Education: BA in English, UMass-Boston

Previous Experience: I started doing data entry at a market research startup fifteen years ago, gradually taking on more IT responsibility as the firm grew from five to fifty people. I left that company after seven years, taking a job as IT Director at a Boston-based construction firm. I've been at my present job for six years.

Job Tasks: I am the sole IT person at company of 50 people, so I have a wide-ranging list of responsibilities. I manage a Windows-based computer network that includes six servers, 25 workstations in our office, and approximately 25 notebook computers located on various construction sites in the area. I specify, purchase, and configure all of our computer equipment, handle all end-user technical support and training, perform all computer and network maintenance (such as nightly backups and system updates), and design and maintain the proprietary database systems we use to manage our construction projects. In a larger sense, I'm responsible for setting the firm's overall technology direction, choosing the specific technologies that we will use going forward.

In a typical day, I do a little of everything. Every morning, I check all of our servers to see that all of the previous night's tape backups completed successfully, and to ensure that all systems are all functioning properly. I field questions and requests from end-users, that range from problems they might be having with their equipment to requests for new functionality in our project management system. I also meet regularly with members of the various functional groups within our company project management, marketing, field operations, human resources - to assess their ongoing technology needs and determine what I can do to make their processes easier and more efficient.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The fact that I'm the only IT person at the company means that my work is quite varied, something that is perhaps both the best and worst part of the job. While it's refreshing to be able to shift gears periodically and work on something completely new and different, there's also something to be said for being able to focus on one discipline and not be the person who gets called on for absolutely everything, from web design to paper jams. Of course, this is a small-company phenomenon, and not something an IT Director at a larger company would experience.

Job Tips:
1. If you're interested in IT management - as opposed to something more specialized like software development - acquaint yourself with as many different technologies as possible: different operating systems, database systems, and programming languages. You have to have an understanding of all of the tools available in order to choose the right one for a particular project.

2. However, I think the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with people of varying technical backgrounds is perhaps the most important skill for any IT manager. Given that e-mail has become such a common form of corporate communication, I would recommend that anyone pursuing a career in IT learn to write in a professional manner.

3. Your experience in IT will vary greatly according to the size of the company where you work. I think it's important to figure out where you're most comfortable early in your career because it can be difficult to change course later.

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