Thought for the day: I'm a celebrity, get me out of IT!

The last place you'd expect to see a former IT director is on television, but it seems they're popping up on all sorts of shows....

The last place you'd expect to see a former IT director is on television, but it seems they're popping up on all sorts of shows. Colin Beveridge is certain that years of managing technology departments is a good grounding for the media circus.



Now, I know why the broadband sellers refer to their product as an always-on connection. Because that’s just what I have become: an always-on connection, especially since I installed a wireless home network.

For most of the time I am simply another node in a seething morass of entwined internetworks that extends effortlessly throughout and beyond my regular working day, into that precious time when I should be enjoying a well-earned rest.

Which is how I ended up the other night, half-heartedly watching television in the living room while conscientiously updating an important business spreadsheet on my wireless-enabled laptop.

In truth, I was paying much more attention to the IT cost model than to the telly programme – until I heard a familiar voice booming out of my TV set. The distinctive voice that caught my ear was that of René Caryol, co-author of Corporate Voodoo and a well-known former IT director.

It’s always interesting when you see a personal acquaintance on TV so I put down my laptop and listened to what René had to say about the characteristic behaviour patterns of the super-rich members of our society.

You might well think that this was an extremely unusual topic for a former IT director to embrace with any authority. But this didn’t surprise me at all because I have had the pleasure of meeting René several times and I have heard him speak at a number of IT events.

He is a truly inspirational speaker and one of only two “celebrity” [albeit former] IT directors that I know – the other being David Taylor, aka The Naked Leader, who has also appeared on various television programmes recently, including – believe it or not – the popular docusoap, The Salon.

Of course, before they succumbed to the glamorous worlds of television stardom and inspirational speaking, both René Caryol and David Taylor had a common professional background – they both managed large information technology departments.

Hallelujah! Brothers and sisters! There is life after IT! René and David are the living proof. They have a shared experience, which I believe has been the crucial element in their separate success stories as business book authors, speakers and television presenters.

It is no small coincidence that two such former technology managers are now leading figures in the world of analysing attitudes, behaviour and relationships in the workplace. After all, the typical IT department is a tremendous vantage point from which to observe the big beasts of the corporate savannahs, constantly locked in ritual combat with each other.

But, of course, we are not simply innocent bystanders on a safari. We are the people that have to try and find common cause between frequently conflicting priorities and agendas. We are the ones who actually have to pull the whole thing together into some sort of coherent systems portfolio.

Which is probably why every good IT manager very quickly learns that the technology is always the easiest bit to manage – the really hard part of our job is dealing effectively with people.

What do you think?

Which is harder - dealing with technology or dealing with people?  Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Colin Beveridge is an independent consultant and leading commentator on technology management issues. He can be contacted at [email protected]

Read more on IT jobs and recruitment