Opinion

Careers: Get on to the corporate radar with Dracula management

Does anyone notice you? Look in the mirror. If there is no reflection you are a vampire. If there is and you work in IT, welcome to the invisible world of Dracula management. Here are some tips to get back onto the corporate radar.

First, you may be speaking a language no one understands. We think that as long as we talk in business terms rather than techno babble we will be alright. Do not forget that while many people fail to understand technology, they do not understand business either.

You need to know the "lingua franca" of those you speak to. After all, Count Dracula came from Transylvania and fetched up on the shores of Whitby speaking perfect English.

Many working relationships in business are long established. The one between civil engineers and architects stretches back to before the pyramids. Others are just as old. We have only been around for 50 years, so it is not surprising we are treated with the suspicion of a stranger.

Dracula's challenge

Like Dracula, IT represents a challenge to the order of things, especially if you are only seen in the virtual night - for example, when systems are down and the nightmare begins of people trying to survive without e-mail.

The Dracula manager should also be well turned out. Too many IT folk dress in a manner that arouses curiosity. The Count's example may be too formal for today's taste - so forget the cape - a dark suit and white shirt will suffice.

Also, do not flaunt bogus decorations. Real professionals have well-entrenched and certified bodies to authenticate their credentials. As one executive said to me, "You are not engineers - you are technicians."

For the Dracula manager, it is also essential to get any fresh blood in the company on your side before the cynics warn them off.

Transform yourself

One of Dracula's key capabilities is transformation - suave count one minute, bat the next - so develop chameleon skills. Do not be a geek when you talk to PR, and do be shrewd when you visit finance.

Technology touches everyone. People are forced to have a relationship with you, like it or not. So despite providing the enterprise's life blood, you will be seen by most as sucking out vast amounts of cash for expensive, often invisible, expenditure.

Be wary of the luddites who abhor your very existence and see you as the symbol of all ills. They are the ones who try to ward you off with the corporate garlic of how wonderful it was before you came along.

They will be sharpening the wooden stake or loading the silver bullet and be just as happy to put it in your back as get you lying down.

To survive in Dracula management you will need one more thing - a crypt as cold as ice. The server room is a good spot for your coffin as you will need somewhere to hide when, as the last law of all projects states, they start looking for somebody to blame.

Michael Pincher is information systems and facilities manager at Cross London Rail Links

 

More information:

Manage people, not technology

Talk to the CEO in a language he understands

 

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This was first published in January 2007

 

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