The big question: Does a technology background hold you back in a business career?

The Big Question is an initiative between Computer Weekly and recruitment consultancy PSD. Each week we put the Big Question to top IT professionals to get their take on a current talking point.

51% Yes

49% No

IT professionals are split over whether an IT background can hold you back in a business career.

Half of respondents saw no reason to draw a distinction between a technology background and any other. But on the other side of the divide were those who said there was still a tendency in many businesses to pigeonhole technologists and pass them over for other kinds of business roles.

“If you are a good software developer, then managers invariably want to keep you in that role,” said one respondent.

“There are always plenty of staff with no technical skills they can promote to management roles.”

Another who saw a problem with IT staff being overlooked said, “By not acknowledging the business skills of certain staff, including IT, a business is liable to stagnate.”

But business analyst Mark Raistrick said the idea that IT holds you back was shortsighted, given the growing awareness of the central role played by technology in business.

Richard Gerrish, a director at Quantum Consulting, said those people with an IT background would only fail to progress through a lack of leadership skills.

“In business there needs to be a balance between operational-type skills and an ability to lead a company in a certain direction to achieve its main aims and improve profitability.

“These days in business, it is about having an initial skill and building in the broadest mix of other skills so that a manager is best-placed to deliver what a company needs. One skill does not make a complete business manager,” Gerrish said.

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