Is age a factor in breaking into technological jobs?
Younger people may be more instinctive about technology, but it’s not rocket science and it’s not expensive to learn about. Community colleges offer two-year degrees in Web design and cyber security, and these are real areas of growth. The only barrier to entry is you, not your age—and breaking through whatever mental barriers exist. Finance is laying off lots of people, but I guarantee they’re still hiring in technology, because they have lots of information they need to protect, and that need is growing, not shrinking. The same is true in medicine and lots of other industries, so choose an industry you like and figure out how to leverage your knowledge and skills to break into the tech side of that industry.
For people who are further along in their careers, don’t be intimidated. Your knowledge and skills can be a springboard for figuring out how to leverage technology within that arena.
You’ve moved IT from being a sort of foundational
function at BAE to a core one.
Business technology officers have to know where the business is going, not just where technology is going, so that tech decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. My goal is for an executive to say, I have a $10 million problem that I need you to help me solve. How much do I need to invest in technology to drive $10 million in costs from my process? That’s my business technology officer’s job.
What’s an example of your impact so far?
We’ve built 40 telepresence studios throughout the company in the last year rather than fly people around the world to gather for meetings. It was motivated by our Global Information and Technology Council, which meets four times a year for four hours and involves 15 people from the U.S., the UK, India, Sweden, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. We encourage everyone to use the technology—all they have to do is reserve the rooms.
It takes an enormous amount of money to fly people to one location for a few hours, not to mention lost production time, coordinating time, etc. Telepresence is phenomenal. It’s almost like a hologram. The 1080-pixel quality of the technology creates an image with better clarity than the naked eye offers, and it’s life-size. The way the images appear, you can forget you’re not in the room with the other people. And unlike teleconferencing, where multiple voices can’t be heard at the same time, the audio is conversational and instantaneous—there’s no delay. It’s amazing. But, more importantly, it has improved our responsiveness to each other and our customers at a savings to everyone.