I am a techie-turned-manager in a small firm that provides outsourced support for a national company. Two years ago I was promoted from senior analyst to operations manager for the outsourced contract. My technical background is in desktop and server support and I gained MCSE and CNA qualifications. I am restricted in this role and do not see any future career progression if I stay where I am. I am looking for a new challenge and would like to stay in management. What would you recommend?
You sound ambitious, and one option would be to join a larger outsourcing specialist which can provide you with a more diverse client base to work from. Such a move is likely to offer the prospect of managing larger teams and enhanced career opportunities, although you may need to be mobile - you will have to work on the client's site, of course.
This is likely to mean moving further away from the technical side and it is worth noting that in the current climate it is managers with good technical skills who are more marketable than managers whose technical skills are out-of-date.
Alternatively, you might consider seeking a strategically focused infrastructure role, which will move you towards project management and possibly programme management in the future. Initially this might require you to focus on your technical abilities as well as your man-management skills. However, this path will ultimately give you a good combination of management exposure with a more detailed business focus. You will have to interface with the business more heavily than before, which will provide you with an interesting new angle to your career.
Project management can also give you wider scope for longer-term career development, possibly leading to an IT director position. It might be easier to make this type of move in your current organisation because most positions in this area require candidates to have current experience within project management.
Solution by Richard Herring, Reed Computing
The panel: MSB International, Best International, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Computing, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK
E-mail your career-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org