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Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?

 
#1 Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
14/02/2010 23:03

J.D.

Looking for a fun flaming and any advice you care to provide, feel free to let rip :)

Best to first put this in perspective, so, a little about me, I graduated with a 1st from a red brick uni in Comp Sci, did a placement year with one of the big 4, but joined IBM as an 'IT Consultant' thinking they were the best fit for me. Three years in I've had a promotion, good reviews (top performance ratings on their bell curve), a few different client-side roles (public/financial) and started to head down a more technical route (systems architecture). I like to think I have a good network within the company, but very limited outside. IBM is really looking for me to move into a more Systems Integration role, really I wanted to be a consultant first and work in IT second. Also getting bored of working in small cities in the UK for pretty poor money/recognition.

So, looking to plan a move in the next year or so - I'd like to think my CV was good 3 years ago (started my own business as a kid, good uni experience of societies and lots of travelling) and on leaving I had offers from the 3 companies I applied for (In hindsight maybe IBM wasn't the right choice but they recruited me well, ce la vi!). Since then it’s been work, work related charity activities and travelling (probably not quite so impressive) though I also did pretty well in a national competition. Plus the usual experience of working in a big company, leading small teams and other techy stuff.

I’d like to think (like everyone else) that I’m smart, good at technical 'stuff', client 'stuff' and work hard – and can find examples to back this up. Really my ideal job would be working in a foreign country for 3-6months, then moved on to the next country/role, though more than happy with short stints - truly international consulting in the IT space. As I work at IBM I’m comparatively poorly paid which would mean that any of the options below wouldn't make me poorer :) (my salary is made more bearable by hotel points and airmiles for my travelling).

At the moment only putting in 60hrs week as I'm not too challenged (I take the weekends off), would like to push this up a notch for the next 4-5 years to accelerate my career somewhat, but need to do it constructively. As such I'm considering a few options, would appreciate completely different views from the ones I get from my IBM-based mentors;

1 - Move to Australia/New Zealand/Canada doing a similar type of role for 2/3 years (I have the points for Oz for example without a job offer) to differentiate myself from my peers with the international dimension

2 - Carry on working at big blue for 2/3years more, then do an MBA (self funded) and on graduation look to moving into a true consultancy

3 - Make a sideways move into one of the big 4 and see if I can advance faster in their less static environment, or find a small consultancy that works globally

4 - Do I pay for, in my own time/cash, various courses (Prince2, an open uni degree, any others?) to show I'm smart/have some tangible skills?

5 - Try for a graduate scheme for one of the proper mgmt consultancies (probably a pipe dream?)

Any other thoughts you might have on the above are appreciated, along with any small consultancies that work globally in IT?

Thanks!

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#2 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
15/02/2010 10:07

T to J.D. (#1)

Option (1) sounds best. You'll find there's little different on the other side of the fence if you go with (3) or (5). (4) won't make a big enough difference and with (2) you'll probably be in a rut by the time for the MBA comes around.

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#3 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
15/02/2010 11:55

anon to T (#2)

The job probably shouldn't be the only reason to take you down under.

International work may enhance a CV of course, however if you are planning on moving straight back to the UK and not to IBM, recruiters/firms might then use that experience as a stick to beat you with (i.e. you don't have recent local industry experience).

Never pay for Prince 2, PMI, CEng, CITP or other industry quals - your firm should pay for you and firms like IBM will have alliances/strategic agreements with many such bodies making it easy for you to get qualified/certified.

To get a firm like IBM or an SI firm to pay for an MBA you would need a pretty kickass business case/good patronage i suspect.

Opportunity cost of funding an MBA yourself is of course high and may impact your career in this current climate. Have a look around for alternative professional qualifications/masters courses that may be more relevant.

Probably worth questioning in detail why you actually want to work for a "real consultancy" i think a lot of people are attracted to the notion of working for an MBBB firm, but don't really have any insight into what it entails.

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#4 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
15/02/2010 14:54

Mr Cool to J.D. (#1)

JD,

Lot’s of good info on your OP, but your thought process seem to me a little untidy. You imply international travel is part of what you are seeking, but later define it as a way to differentiate yourself from peers. Differentiate for what purpose? You are mixing up end-goals with tools to achieve those goals.

You also mention IT Consultancy – what do you mean by this? For many firms this is in fact system integration, for others it is about cost of ownership of IT as a function/division, for others it’s transformation of the IT function, for others it’s about being a solution architect. No matter how important an exotic location is to you, it will pale quickly if you are in the wrong functional job.

Decide in this order.

1) Where do you want to be in ten years time - IT Director/Consultancy Partner/Techie Guru/Owner-Inventor/Part-time surfer dude?)

2) What is the most enjoyable path for getting there and what is the first step on that path?

3) Which firms would offer you this sort of immediate work and would support this future path?

4) Which firms could do so in an international setting, either through re-location or by regular overseas projects?

Goal first, then roadmap, then detailed first steps.

Good luck

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#5 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
15/02/2010 21:20

J.D. to Mr Cool (#4)

Thanks for all your views - much appreciated you took the time, to respond a little to some of the points you raise;

If moving to Oz/NZ etc (Canada isn't such a serious consideration atm) I'd be making a serious commitment for at least 2-3years if not longer. Ideally I'd be looking for a job initially in the country I choose, taking on additional responsibilities accross SE Asia prior to a move to a different region (not necessarily Europe) - my plan wouldn't be for a quick return to the UK, though if it became necessary I suspect I could get back to IBM if desired. I'm more excited by the possibilities in the maturing markets of SE Asia/Africa/South America than the more mature economies of Europe.

With regards to the training, best to defend my employer for other readers! IBM is a good sponsor of career oriented courses (I've been on a lot), however something like Prince2 would be funded if relevant to my role and had a business case, which it currently isn’t. I'd like to have the option to demonstrate that- I'm technically capable, but can do basic project management (and have a shiny certificate to "prove" it). Within IBM the preference is for internal qualifications that have limited value externally but are sufficient within the company. I have also considered and explored the IBM MBA route, however it is targeted at more senior people (unsurprisingly) perhaps 10 years ahead in their career from me, is part-time and requires certain commitments once the course is completed - hence the consideration of self funded MBA/training as an accelerant. The reason for the 2/3 year gap prior to the MBA isn't necessarily the financial issue but as I agree with your points that in the current environment it is a risky investment, plus I believe that you should do an MBA with a certain amount of real world experience.

Mr Cool, I appreciate your comments on goals/targets around the travel - you're right that it’s a little unclear... probably as my mindset is one that looks to accelerate my desires through my own actions, i.e. I would like to work internationally; the best way to do that is to start to work internationally and demonstrate my achievements (within my own control); then a future employer would look and see that I have already demonstrated at least some parts of an international career and is therefore less of a leap for them to make with me. Hence I'd see an international move as a good one to position myself for the future I would like. Your other points are very valid of course :)

As you probably guessed this is the start of a set of serious considerations for me rather than any fully fledged plan - moving around the world isn't a step I will take lightly and will need plenty more research and investigation to find the correct opportunity.

Thanks again, and any other comments are more than welcome :)

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#6 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
15/02/2010 22:10

p to J.D. (#5)

Great thread - loving this junk-free forum ;-)

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#7 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
16/02/2010 04:30

anon to p (#6)

As a first step look to get the PMP certification from the PMI rather than Prince 2.

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#8 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
16/02/2010 07:42

Not enough hours to anon (#7)

"At the moment only putting in 60hrs week as I'm not too challenged (I take the weekends off)"

Yeah... *shrugs*. Slacker. Need to be putting in at least 150 hours/week in this business. If you leave the office before 3am every day, people will start talking and your career progression will be severly limited.

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#9 RE: Advice on the future / IT Consulting internationally or...?
16/02/2010 17:26

Longer than you.. hours that is to Not enough hours (#8)

3am? Wuss. I sleep one hour a night and have excel data fed into me through a cable up my @r$e.

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