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Making the most of the vendor-CIO relationship
As any CIO knows, you can’t be on top of everything. Yet it’s a requirement for a CIO to be naturally curious about technology, process, business, competitors, and products. That’s why dealing with technology vendors is an interesting challenge for me. The vendor’s job is to present their solution as superior; mine is to poke holes and pressure-test anything they say.
One question I always ask is, “Can you show me how to make money from your solution?” The other one is, “Can you show me some case studies that prove your solution will work for my company?” I ask these questions because part of my working method is getting intimate with the business: sitting down with the financial analysts, talking to staff in the plants, and spending time with our customers. I want our core vendors to make me smarter so that as I see opportunities in the business, I can show my colleagues the right case study or highlight the right opportunities with the vendor’s technology.
More education, less selling
I get a lot of solicitations via email from vendors. My typical reaction is to delete most, maybe noting along the way how descriptive and customized they are, because I’m assuming most of it is auto-scripting. I have noticed vendors becoming more tenacious, but for me it’s always going to be about value. That’s why getting invited to workshops can be an interesting tactic, as long as these are more than thinly-veiled efforts to sell me things. The good news is that these days workshops generally seem to revolve around educating me, not just selling me. And that’s got to be a basic requirement to keep me engaged.
Eamon O’Kellyis vice president and industrial solutions Chief Information Officer at TE Connectivity. He is an energetic leader with a proven history in building and leading high performance, multinational teams in engineering, consulting and IT. In his current position, Eamon leads the IT team of 240 people, with an IT budget greater than $130 million.