Seven Non-Technical Tactics for a Successful IT Career

By David Robinson, CIO, Lockton Companies

David Robinson, CIO, Lockton CompaniesDavid Robinson, CIO, Lockton Companies

I sometimes worry about the effect of technology on our social well-being. Have the technologies that sped up and extended our ability to connect, communicate, and share actually weakened our ability as humans to interact, learn, and stay curious? Has the seamlessness of connectivity and information created too much cyber liability and removed our right to privacy? Has it created too much misinformation, clutter, and opportunity for darker purposes? I often will tell others that if doesn’t concern you somewhat, you don’t truly understand it.

"With technological advancement we are challenged to migrate. Sometimes to improve and sometimes for necessity"

I know I didn’t fully understand it in 1977 when I started exploring the topic at Northwest Missouri State University. The smaller Division II school in rural Maryville, Missouri had received a grant from the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and was preparing to be one of the first electronic campuses in the nation.

I quickly learned that my degree in 1981 was in demand as PCs made their commercial debut and companies like Yahoo, Google, Apple and Cisco began to roll out. The next twenty years roared by for my career. Moore’s Law held true and machines continually got faster, smaller, and cheaper. It was an exciting time for technologists but most people could not understand the value of the technologies being released.

I entered the insurance industry in 1997 as part of GE Capital and was surprised to find how manually it functioned. I learned to accept some old ways but the power of technology pressed hard to reform these century old beliefs.

While I am thankful for the technology that affords us effectiveness and efficiency, my career success can really be attributed to non-technical tactics.

1. Hire great people and listen to them. We all do fairly well with the first part but we can be lousy at the listening. Great people drive your culture and success of your business. Let them be great.

2. Treat business partners like colleagues. You can’t do it all by yourself. You need to find great partners that can help. Extend your business to work closely with them. Work hard. Work smart. And work together.

3. Celebrate big and small successes. Many times just a heartfelt thank you to someone deserving is all that’s needed.

4. Accept change because it is inevitable. With technological advancement we are challenged to migrate. Sometimes to improve and sometimes for necessity.

5. Be careful to stay out of email jail. Since its inception I have had a love hate relationship with email technology. While essential, it is easy to waste hours of precious time.

6. Be safe. With technology so seamless these days it’s all too easy to make a mistake. Unintentional or not, a bad mistake online can hurt you permanently.

7. Don’t take things too seriously or personally. There is a lot around this one. But being better at it really can smooth out the road for you and others. 

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