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Network World - With companies running lean and mean, professional development has increasingly become an individual sport. IT workers have learned to fend for themselves to develop needed skills and gain new mindsets for managing more effectively and adding more value to the workplace.
Many professionals are turning to webinars and other online venues to do this, but a good number continue to get meaningful career advice through the tried-and-true method of reading a good book.
We asked four IT professionals from different industries to share the books that have influenced them in their own professional development.
Maurice Jenkins, director of IS and telecommunications, Miami Dade County Aviation Department
"The IT Career Builders Toolkit," Matthew Moran (Cisco Press, 2005)
"Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Managers," Gerald Michaelson and Steven Michaelson (Adams Media, 2010)
The overall theme of the first book is to stay focused on your goals, using life management strategies that allow you to create opportunities and then take advantage of them when they present themselves. It provides a methodology for creating a toolkit that includes self-assessment, communication and technical strategies, along with career building methods.
This book gave me a grouping of life-assessing strategies that related very closely to where I was and where I wanted to progress. The process principles, mentoring advice and approach to making yourself indispensable were key principles that had benefits to my employer, as well as me. There are many other books that are self-motivators, but few actually address IT strategies.
"The Art of War for Managers" encapsulates Sun Tzu's teachings and brings them to the world of business. As a manager, it provided me with an improved understanding of the strategic rules of business and applying them to the new millennium. An example is conflict management, or as Sun Tzu would say, "to subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence." Another is strategic planning, or "a victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle."
Samuel Satyana, senior solution architect, Ericsson Inc.
"Who Moved My Cheese," Spencer Johnson (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1998)
The theme of this book is about staying on top of your game -- especially when it comes to your career -- through times of change. I first read it when I worked at my first job, and there was a takeover rumor by a bigger company. The takeover never happened, but over the years, after working at multiple large organizations and getting laid off once along the way, I have gotten good (knock on wood) at anticipating changes within the organization or a specific group I am working in within the company and adjusting accordingly.
I try not to work at a job for too long when it seems like a dead-end one and I'm not feeling like I'm growing in my career. It definitely helps to work in an industry or area where it has been a job seeker's market for quite a while. I have also tried to put more of an effort on staying up-to-date on my skills, and ideas from the book always seem to help when changing jobs.