Friday, January 08, 2010

IT managers and networking

I've been looking at the back pages of the papers more frequently recently. And there's one theme that has me stumped.

Virtually all advertisements for IT manager positions require the applicant to be able to set up a LAN. Or WAN. Or have certifications like MCSE, cisco and N+? I wrote it off initially as the kind of thing small companies would do. You know, those companies we read about where the IT function reports to the Finance manager. It would be [somewhat] understandable for such guys. But to my astonishment, even large[er] enterprises list this as a requirement.

Maybe it's just me. But what business would an "IT manager" have setting up a network. The presumption being that there is no network at all. And if the company isn't a startup, why would his knowledge of routers be so significant as to appear in the bulleted points. Given, it's useful to have a guy who has heard of TCP/IP at the helm, rather than a coffee farmer, but that's about it. You might as well list a whole host of other things if you are going to have as a key requirement that a guy be able to distinguish between RJ-45 and RJ-11 connectors. As a start, software powers the world. So there'd be a few points in that direction [which you never see]. And skills like project management will certainly be more useful than having the top guy knowing how to configure users in Active Directory.

When I see such ads, it tells me one thing. These guys don't know what they are doing. Or at a minimum, they don't know what they want. It's the same way ads for programmers some time back would require a guy to know a list of technologies so long that you could make up some acronym and stick it in there and it wouldn't look out of place. It's good to see that such things have reduced. What you still see are guys looking for a programmer, who will also be required to repair PCs. Again, for the county councils of this part of the world, that's expected if not excusable.

You can't blame the HR guys. They probably get the requirements from other guys. Or can you. Do they add in this one requirement specifically. And I suspect this might not be so farfetched. After all, if all other companies require it for their IT managers, it must mean that it's a really important thing and we also must have it. I'm starting to think that's how a lot of things are done. Everyone else does it that way, so must we.

There's also the Masters requirement. Absolutely ubiquitous this one. The first thing listed. Another one that gets my head shaking. If I have a deep understanding of Association Rule Mining algorithms, does that really help you. Really. Plausible but unlikely. Spurious. If the masters required is in office politics, that would be a different story. But guys with a masters in computer science are better off in universities or R&D labs. The only way to rationalise this requirement [for these particular guys at least] is that they want guys above a certain age. Then you remember that they can simply say that. Or would they get age discrimination complaints. What else. Nothing comes to mind. What comes to mind is the number of not-so-old people who've built a bunch of tech companies. So even age for the sake of age is a bit shaky as a requirement. Perhaps they want to reduce the number of applications they receive, and subsequently have to go through. This one makes the most sense. But then again if you look at it critically, flaws start to appear all over the place. If you are willing [by choice or by default] to spend resources processing possibly thousands of applications for lower level jobs, surely the place to look to cut costs shouldn't be for the more senior guys.

I'm starting to believe that I think in very skewed ways.


Blogger E-Nyce said...

Amen brother, never a clearer picture of the Kenyan (ICT) job circus have I read.

It's not you that's skewed but the whole job market in the country.

Saturday, March 06, 2010 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

I believe that you have been misled by someone that IT does not need a techie... I manage IT in my company and I can safely say IT DOES. But I might also agree with you that it needs a guru of project management although that's a mere 10% of what is required. That's a scary thought isn't it.

You have to know what happens in your network and why. These qualifications would justify why I would tell my subordinates to crimp an RJ-45. What if they do it wrong? I'd have to be able to spot it in a second. Management is not a dictatorship otherwise, it would have been known as a royal regime.

What if the company opens a new branch? Who would head the team to set up the LAN and connect it to the WAN... not some paper pushing dimwit who knows zilch about what a CPU means.

I admit, I havent gotten my CCNA but I know why I need to. In fact, I am sitting for the exams in two months to add to my other very relevant qualifications.

I think you should try working as customer support for a company that does not have a techie as an ITM. I swear when things go wrong and the distraught clients call you, you shall have the most mind-numbing headache on earth. Just ask the HR who cannot connect to the internet and doesn't know why the paper pushing ITM has to call a sub-contractor who will charge KSh.2000 just for plugging in a cable at a switch.

Is that Greek to you? Then you have no business even sticking your head in an IT office live alone applying for such a post.

Monday, March 08, 2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Samborera said...

All this explains why I'm not sufficiently qualified to be an IT manager. I can't crimp.

As to not working in an IT office, you may be right on that as well.

Monday, March 08, 2010 2:36:00 PM  

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