Q&A: Alan Shields, Cambridgeshire County Council

We speak to the IT strategy and architecture team manager - and Leader Board panelist - about effectively supporting his business.

What was your first IT job?

It was as a System Administrator for a multi-user SCO Unix system using Wyse VT100 terminal for a large Quantity Surveying and Project Management practice in central London. 

The secret to IT is not the technology itself but the ability to understand how it can be used. Never forget that. 

How has the world of IT changed since you first started in the sector?

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In 1981, I saved up my Saturday job pay and brought a ZX81, so where do I start?! IT is now part of the fabric of life and business and there is less fear about technology than when I started. 

What do you think are the most important skills people wanting to enter the IT job market should have nowadays?

A passion about what IT can achieve and good communication skills. Everything else can be picked up on the way.

What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the IT jobs market/your younger self?

This is interesting as my son is currently studying computing at college. The secret to IT is not the technology itself but the ability to understand how it can be used. Never forget that. 

What is the biggest challenge facing IT professionals at the moment?

The currenty economic downturn. Although this can have its positive side as many companies are looking to IT to make themselves more effective. However, that still requires some upfront investment, which may not be available.

What technologies/trends are you currently watching and why?

Cloud, consumerisation, BYOD, mobile computing, Big Data... 

Conversely, what current technology/trend are you not interested in and why?

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