Let Them Hide!

Perhaps no other functional area is as mysterious as information technology. Ask anyone in this area how many times he or she has been called “the Tech Person,” and you’ll probably hear laughter followed by a long period of silent counting. The following titles really do mean different things:

  • Network Manager: think high-level design skills with budget and purchasing responsibilities
  • Network Administrator: think highly-skilled, specialized technician
  • Systems Administrator: think jack-of-all-trades generalist

Like the Academic Technology professional, know what you need first. Do you need a generalist or specialist? Will they be researching and designing new solutions, or updating and administering existing ones? How much time will they spend on budgets and vendor management? Once again, who manages them matters a lot. To be painfully honest, if the person who manages the IT professional is not experienced with IT, then a very unique set of characteristics probably kicks in. Chances are, you will want someone who is a bit deferential, more of a quiet generalist, with a support-first kind of mentality. No sense having an amazingly talented IT whippersnapper clash with their boss on Day 1.

Perhaps one of the most predictive questions for determining the right question is, how many hours will you allow this person to spend in a cave? No, we “Tech People” don’t live in caves, but if you can’t let an IT professional work more than 20 hours a week uninterrupted, then chances are you need a glorified support specialist who hopefully has some up-and-coming IT skills. Think about it this way: if your controller or AP specialist had to double as your registrar or receptionist, then you would need a very different skill set for that position.