Auckland Regional Council information chief Tony Darby stays on top by devoting up to 30 minutes each morning to personal development.
He keeps up-to-date with all the latest organisational and management theories, so he knows "who moved his cheese" and says others should know likewise.
“You have to think about something everyday on how to improve yourself." Just good is not good enough because things are always changing.
Darby has worked his way up in IT over 15 years, starting in Rotorua and including Hamilton, Wellington and Milford Sound, working in industries as diverse as hotel management and the airline industry. This year he was voted Computerworld 2001 CIO of the Year.
“Jobs are what you make of them. You can find good and exciting things in what you do,” he says.
Education obviously matters, but people have to realise IT is not just about things but increasingly dealing with people. IT professionals have to realise the people aspect in addition to the other key drivers in their lives if they want an IT career.
Goals are important and you are only as good as your last project, he says. Don’t worry if you make mistakes because if you don’t, you aren’t stretching yourself. That bit extra is what differentiates you from the crowd, he says.
Flexibility is paramount as technologies and processes often change. The book Who Moved My Cheese by Spenser Johnson is about getting over change and getting on with it, he says. "Cheese" is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, be it a good job, a loving relationship, health or spiritual peace of mind.
Change is occurring in the workplace as organisations find structure does not matter. Procedure manuals are being replaced by conversation, so it is increasingly important not to be precious about what you do and instead see things from other viewpoints and get on with it. “Don’t put barriers around your job. The moment you do that, then you limit yourself,” he says.
Darby’s career has had setbacks but one Friday redundancy led to him starting a higher-paid job the following Monday. Don’t choose to be a victim, he says.
He advises questioning what you can do and thinking how you can do it better. Accept organisations have constraints but don’t use this as an excuse for not doing anything.