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Q&A: Liam Quinn, Richmond Events

The IT director - and member of the Leader Board - discusses the challenges he faces and how he joined the IT industry.

Running a small network of 30 users. I fell into it really. I was working on a CAD/CAM project and upgrading and running the network with a colleague became part of the job.

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

It used to be all about the tin! Hardware was expensive (1,000 for 256mbyte of server RAM!) and everything we did was designed to try to minimise how much of it we needed, from network design to software development. Solutions required lots of "out of the box" thinking and the results were generally very clever and elegant.

Now, hardware is cheap and if something is slow you can just through more RAM, CPU, HDD or whatever at it to resolve the issue. The days of neat and elegant solutions seem to be in the past.

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

Soft skills. You may be the best "geek" there is, but if you can't communicate with others then it's all for nought. The days of sitting in a darkened room are long gone. You need to be personable, articulate and comfortable communicating with everyone you work with, whether that's you peers, your boss, the users or the board you're trying to sell your latest idea to.

Your CV needs to list more than just a full set of appropriate technology skills. ITIL, project management techniques and exposure to a variety of skills is great. Having a life outside of IT is even better.

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

Do it! It's hard work, can be long hours and incredibly frustrating at times. However, it's very rewarding and a great way to understand how the whole business works.

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

Keeping up-to-date with all the new things that everyone reads about on the internet.

Everyone now considers themselves an expert and thinks that they should be able to use the latest and greatest gadget, app, toy etc. in the office and can't (won't?) understand that it isn't available and/or appropriate to use at work.

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