Background: I work as a manager for a public regional financial institution, managing a team of business analysts. I have held this position for just over seven months. Previously I had worked as IT Director for a medium-sized private company in charge of all aspects of data and voice for approximately ten years. During this time I always thought: “I wonder what it would be like to work for a big company…?”
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
I have approximately fifteen years of technical/IT experience and I have always enjoyed being hands-on, first as a technician and then later as an IT manager. My preference is virtualization, storage, security and networking, specifically planning and implementation of new or growth/replacement scenarios. While I am the first to admit I don’t care for the daily user helpdesk issues, I certainly enjoy the technical aspects of pure IT. While I have some minor programming training, I have never been a developer or application guy.
So on to the new position: I am now 95% pure management and all that entails. The majority of my day is spent on project conference calls and attending various project and administrative-type meetings. While the change in role has been interesting it has quickly become routine. I travel fairly often and spend a lot of time in hotels and airports. After seven months I am also quickly loosing touch with technical knowledge and it is a struggle to stay interested in what I do everyday. It will come to no surprise to anyone who has experienced this, but corporate IT is typically much more siloed than any small business. The most obvious separation is between infrastructure and applications.
In the corporate application world one benefit is the available resources for development and testing. The drawback is that the requirements to push a new product to production are rather inflexible. Production loads usually have to follow a scheduled calendar cycle. In the small business environment I was used to, “testing” often meant making a production server backup, loading the new update and crossing fingers that it worked. We had had a backup right? On tape… The corporate methodology pretty much ensures that the new app or upgrade will work successfully when moved to production. Of course all of the server virtualization options now make this much easier for everyone.
Overall environment comparisons:
Small Business (non-public company)- flexibility in position, more control over resources, less restrictions and regulations to deal with, faster move to production, less resources.
Corporate (public company) – rigid org chart, many regulatory controls, more teams with less responsibility, much higher level of security, slower pace, more resources available
So the bottom line is that if you are faced with making a voluntary or involuntary decision to move from a private company smaller environment to a public corporate environment (no matter the position) make sure you ask plenty of questions to ensure that you fully understand what you are getting in to. And count on your life changing!