What IT Career do you want?

It is surprising to see that many do not know what is the IT role they are applying during a job interview. In a way, we should reflect and see how society have confused these younglings about IT careers in our education system.

Understand IT Career

Like all industry, IT are diverse and span many verticals and specialisations. Unfortunately, many have the misconception of labelling IT as a coder role or someone who works with computer. However, IT career is much more than that. It is common to see that most of us started off as either a technical role or functional one. Around 20% may cross both roles and become techno-functional . Some will specialise in a particular business domain while others focus in the IT aspects across different verticals. Although diversity is good in your early career, you should reach a steady state by your midlife.

Your Personality

A common question by freshie is how should you start IT career. Usually, I like to view the personality of the person to match the starting point. As an analogy, a good swimmer can never excel by starting on a running track. A technical role is often logical and suits more towards introverted personality. On the other hand, functional role rely more on the understanding of user behaviour and business processes. There is an emerging demand for techno-functional role. This role is the most challenging because you will need to leverage on your “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” personality.

What I mention is a simple quick way to evaluate and start your career. The better you understand your personality, the faster you have advantage on the starting point.


Smart Coding

Coding is not difficult to master if you are good at logic. However, how do you learn to code smarter than the rest of people? You can learn these tricks from my personal cookbook.

  1. The more you code, the shorter it gets.
  2. Simple logic works faster and more efficiently.
  3. Dare to rewrite and recode. Same rationale as point 1.
  4. If you find it hard to read, the computer will find it hard as well.
  5. Learn to understand the domain knowledge. This helps to select the right logic codes to fit task.
  6. If the decision making logic is more than 5 to 8. Consider to optimise it to reduce to 5.
  7. Speed is better than elegant codes. Users can feel the performance but cannot read how elegant is your coding.
  8. Know the cost of SQL. 1 long complex SQL is slower than few few simple ones.

It is good habit to know the timing of your codes. With practice, you will be smart to code for performance and maintainability.

What Coder you want?

We often review technical skillset for different projects. In our evaluation, we notice similarities in many candidates on their programming languages. So, how do you really differentiate what you want? I will liken coding to sport players at times. There are technical, flair or elegant coders similar to star players in a soccer team. The question is how to you spot this gems?

Quick Tips
  • Who are you looking for? A star player, coding machine, or a problem solver.
  • Set a benchmark on the types of resources.
  • Look for project trends and the role they play.
  • Ask specific scenario based questions to the role you want.

If you are a coder yourself, ask yourself which role you play best! The best fit will bring out your best performance. If you are hiring for one, what coder you need to make up the rest of your team?

Agile Exit Plan or DevOps

When you are doing Agile, you naturally gain a new skillset on exit planning. This is due to the time box that is set for your changes. Waterfall favor extensive test coverage, testing and sign off. On the other hand, Agile focus more on code quality, speed with CI/CD (Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery) methods. In another words, you formulate your exit plan while building for Agile. This is also commonly known as rollback plan.

In recent times, this is rename as DevOps that function in similar manner. In my team, I always emphasis End to End knowledge i.e DevOps and a need for Agile Exit Plan. Here are some ways of building your Agile Exit Plan while moving towards DevOps.

  • Good Agile deployment must have resilience way to monitor and rollback your codes.
  • Data integrity is a majority of deployment errors. Cultivate good code quality with exception handling.
  • Train SME (Subject Matter Expert) who can provide good advice on exit plan for each Agile deployment.
  • Develop 80/20 rule for your Exit Plan. Factor 20% as exception and focus your resources on the 80.
  • If you do not have CI/CD, consider a feature toggle approach or canary testing in your Agile deployment.

It takes years of practice to master Exit Plan with waterfall approach. However, Agile is so intense that you can hone your skills within a year or two. If you are also handling Production like me, you are DevOps before you realise it.

Agile Traits

I am asked a question of what traits should be in my team. To me, being Agile can be trained to some extent. However, some traits are natural to Agile and suit the person well. This is what makes the person perform exceptionally well in an Agile team. Here are some quick guides to look out.

Natural Trait for Agile Team
  • Thirst of knowledge and passionate to learn.
  • High intrinsic motivation.
  • Ability to innovate and embrace changes.
  • High integrity and self monitoring.
  • “Never say die” attitude

To tease out these traits, ask hard scenario based questions. You can also expose team to such scenarios and raise their awareness. Some members will thrive while others lag behind. You may want to redeploy laggards to maintain a high delivery Agile team.

Cloud Consideration

The Cloud phenomenon is here to stay. Yet, many organisations remained entrenched in traditional department and structures that split into Infrastructure, Security and Application teams. You can easily spot the great divide from the job title and job description (JD) in the job posting. Here is why more change needs to be effected for Cloud.

Organising for Cloud
  • The split between Infrastructure, Security and Application teams must be eliminated and teams will need to structured for Cloud architecture.
  • Cross functional teams needs to be encouraged because Cloud have automated many of traditional infrastructures and security roles.
  • Teams needs to be focused on metering and cost visibility to leverage monitoring of supply and demand with Cloud.
  • Your team must be designed to maximise Cloud functionality using Templates and Enterprise Architecture approach.

Digitalisation and Digital Transformation with Cloud comes with digital mindset and the spirit to change. However, we will continue to see a steep battle for Cloud resources to entangle with traditional Infrastructure, Security and Application. Find your change agent and effect your organizational change! Cloud is a total change, it is not just hiring Cloud!

Are you a Full Stack?

Recently, I am bemused with many freshies out of school with claims of being a full stack and very long list of technical skills. The role of full stack may exaggerated and taken out of context. It seems there are no consideration to what is being taught and what is being practiced. It is pretty easy for an experienced person to comprehend what your full stack really means. Before you start calling yourself a full stack, you can try a simple checklist on yourself.

  • Have you implement and deploy at least 5 projects end to end? Projects, not school homework.
  • Are you comfortable in configuring and setting up server, database and web framework?
  • Are you adaptable in all forms of coding style and syntax?
  • Can you evaluate and provide solutions to real business problems?
  • Do you have moderate domain knowledge for at least one industry?

In short, the skillset of full stack is similar to techno-functional role. It is not possible to acquire full stack capabilities straight out of school. In the real world, the “homework” is much unpredictable and only life practice can teach you the skills you need to be a full stack.

Digital Demand for IT Jobs

The Hype of Digital Transformation give rise to a sudden surge for IT jobs. In the wake of COVID-19, demand of IT jobs become stronger. There are also many who have made the switch from non-IT to IT skillset. While the hype is there, should you jump to the bandwagon?

Here are some reasons that you should not unless…
  • Always work for your passion, not to chase the trend.
  • IT is a constant upgrading career. Be resilient and enter at your own risk.
  • There is a demand for flexible skillset, which is techno-functional skill or pseudo coding. A lot list of technical skills are the norm now. A showcase of technical skills or full stack is what everyone have now.
  • Taking IT course does not give you a ticket to IT career. Embrace what you learn and apply it to your daily life. Build your personal website or mobile application.
  • Code for love and love to code!

Lastly, practice makes perfect! All coding are 1 and 0. Knowing different coding does not give you the USP. The key is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Do know where you want to be in 5 or 10 years time!

Digital Mindset

Digital transformation is not just digital changes. Transform your mindset as well.


Digital Transformation may be the hype now! However, not many have adopted the the right approach. One critical step in digital transformation is the change in mindset.

What is Digital Mindset?

Digital Mindset refers to the realisation that digital transformation will help to automate existing SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) and accelerate innovation. The Digital Mindset can be effected at different level of organisations from top-down to bottom-up. It needs to be permeated to all rank and file to actions and behaviours.

Digital Champions and Influencers

The initial Digital Transformation is mainly driven by market condition. The attitude “Everyone is doing it, so should we!” is often adopted with no clear change to existing mindset. There will always be a large group of resistance rallied against the efforts of Digital Transformation. Organisation Champions and Influencers must be well placed to support the change to Digital Mindset. In a way, the message of change is sent clearly and strongly.

Resistance is futile.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Borg
Digital Motivation and Reinforcement

While there is trigger on the change for Digital Mindset, the next important step is to motivate and reinforce the new actions and behaviours. A good communication team, who is well versed in the art of digital transformation, is required to convey motivation messages to encourage the benefits of these changes. Feedback must be taken to reinforce the Digital Mindset and ensure the organisation stay on track.

Clearly, the thing that’s transforming is not the technology — the technology is transforming you.

Jeanne W. Ross of MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research

IoT 101

Internet of Things (IoT) is coming strong to the typical consumers. Those in manufacturing will know that this is not a new technology. The explosion of IoT adoption comes from two key factors, the ease of deployment with Cloud and the falling prices of sensors.

What is IoT?

Historically, manufacturing environment needs to be controlled to ensure the product is consistent e.g. temperature, humidity or lighting lumens. Sensors are placed through the manufacturing plant to know the product production, and size and control with full or semi automated processes. Data are fed to the main control room to track all the things in the production floor. What if this concept can be applied for consumer to keep track of devices, things or even temperature like a home?


Learning from manufacturing, data can be obtained from the devices as long the main control or console can interpret the information. For a while, this is achieved in decentralized manner using a variety of existing technology like WiFi or Bluetooth. With Cloud Technologies, providers are able to provide IoT consoles to connect various devices with API connectors. Now, layman can easily setup Smart Home with simple setup. Logistics providers can use GPS to track vehicles with SIM cards.

If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The Internet of Things is about to change it all over again!

Brendan O’Brien

For more readings, you can check out these books on IoT.