In this episode, Sarah Tenisi speaks with Val Langmuir, Director of IT at large nonprofit based in San Francisco.
Val describes IT specialists as the people who “work on the plumbing” that allows your device (specifically its computer system) to function securely and productively. Sarah agrees, saying that it is the job of the IT practitioner to “make IT invisible”; however, this opens up a whole world of misconceptions regarding what IT really is and how the general public perceives professionals in this space. Val says that preconceived notions simply come with the turf. In fact, if the consumer begins to “notice that the IT is there, something is not working.”
Listen in as Val discusses why IT should be “invisible”, how IT professionals go about disaster recovery to tackle single points of failure, future-proofing for changes of all sorts (ex. hardware, software, company transformation, economic downturns, etc.), and how to know whether the IT field is a fit for you.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
● [1:04] What exactly is “IT”?
● [3:24] Why IT should be invisible
● [6:49] Defining “digital transformation”
● [9:15] Troubleshooting and disaster recovery in the IT space
● [12:53] Tackling change management
● [15:34] Moving to a more remote workforce
● [18:11] IT for nonprofits versus for-profit companies
● [21:16] Capacity planning for IT
● [23:36] Technology as a tool versus technology using you as the product
● [29:30] Val’s path to the IT field
● [32:38] Challenges that Val encountered throughout her career
● [35:31] How to know if IT is a fit for you
● [38:14] Val’s parting nugget of wisdom for IT professionals
● “IT is not fixing computers. IT is the infrastructure, the plumbing, that goes underneath all of the systems that people use to do business these days. In fact, today, it’s more than the plumbing. It’s like the air that we breathe.”
● “The majority of problems that we see when systems go out are the results of planned changes that were not executed correctly.”
● “Just because you can’t see IT doesn’t mean it’s not there. IT is there and there’s a tremendously fun career in making that happen. You can definitely get a great several years, many decades if you’d like, of doing this, and there’s always going to be work.”
● “In order to do your work, you need to have IT. In order to have good IT, the IT should be unobtrusive and should let you do your work. It should keep you safe and secure. It should keep you productive. But even though it’s unobtrusive, you must not forget that it exists.”