Young ITers get chance to attend IT Directors Forum

IT directors and young BCS members are to benefit from each others' experiences when the annual IT Directors Forum opens to...

IT directors and young BCS members are to benefit from each others' experiences when the annual IT Directors Forum opens to specially selected newcomers for the first time, writes John Kavanagh.

Places for young people are being offered exclusively in a competition run by the BCS Young Professionals Group (YPG). Winners will be able to attend presentations, seminars, workshops and panel discussions by some of IT's most experienced people on the cruiseship Aurora when it sails from Southampton between 16 and 19 May. They will also get to make a presentation and mingle with 500 IT directors and industry leaders.

"The cruise, run by Richmond Events, is an opportunity for directors to share common issues, network and learn from the industry's best," says YPG officer Lexi Airey. "There has never been any doubt that those at the start of their careers can benefit greatly from other people's experience. This is evidenced by the proliferation of company mentor schemes.

"The forum offers the opportunity not only to see presentations but also for an unprecedented level of networking with people at the pinnacle of their careers.

"After giving a small presentation to a group of IT directors, the winners will be able to relax with and pick the minds of the top decision makers in the industry."

The inclusion of younger IT professionals at the forum could also have benefits for the IT directors present. "There is growing concern in IT that directors are increasingly disconnected from the grass roots of their departments," explains Airey.

This is confirmed by Colin Beveridge, a member of Elite, the BCS group for IT directors, and founder of Premit, an organisation for interim managers. "As an interim director I move around frequently and I have seen companies where younger staff have very limited opportunity for dialogue with senior management," he says. "Not surprisingly, these companies experience high staff turnover, losing valuable people after two or three years."

Airey adds, "The value of the younger voice is being recognised more often in IT. For example, reverse mentoring is springing up, with young people advising senior managers on IT in many companies."

The competition is open to all BCS members under the age of 36. The first stage is an essay of 2,000 words, which has a deadline of 1 March. Winners of this stage will be asked to prepare a presentation. Two winners will then be chosen.

The essay question for the 18 to 25 age group is, "Identify a major challenge the IT industry is facing and how you would address it."

The topic for those aged 26 to 35 is, "The Young Professionals Group is a forum for IT professionals; do you agree or disagree, and why?"

Full details are available via the YPG site at www.bcs.org/ypg. Information on the forum is at www.itdf.com/

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