Thursday, 20 January 2011

What does an MIL student look like?

We have been getting enquiries for the Master of Information Leadership and the Computer Weekly scholarship. This blogpost is an attempt to articulate what I see an MIL student looks like in more concrete terms. If this works I'd like to put something more 'official' on the Centre for Information Leadership website, where the entrance requirements are stated thus:

"You will normally be the possession of at least an upper second UK honours degree or equivalent. In addition you will have at least three years in an experienced business-facing information role (equivalent to SFIA 5/CITP), e.g. senior information manager, senior IT consultant.

If your first language is not English, you will be expected to present IELTS 7.0 or equivalent."

It is of course made more difficult by the 'title inflation' that is common in the IT industry. It is quite possible to be an 'IT manager' that does not manage any people and a small budget (e.g. in an SME). We are looking for people in an IT role with experience of line management and significant budgets (or the equivalent in consultancy and freelance roles). You can break this down in terms of hierarchy as follows:
  1. IT Directors/CIOs/CTOs (SFIA 7/FBCS) that wish to develop their skills and/or move to a board level role (or in consultant terms, senior partners).
  2. Their direct reports (SFIA 6) that could include enterprise architects, programme managers, heads of IT services, etc. (and equivalent interims and experienced senior consultants).
  3. Also in larger organisations (e.g. banks, supermarket chains, major consultancies) talented professionals at the level below (usually SFIA 5-6/CITP), say project managers, service managers, senior consultants.
    Our intake would not look out of place on a high-quality executive MBA programme, albeit very IT focused; from that they would likely be in their 30's with some more experienced professionals adding additional gravitas to the cohort.

    Though we make use of the SFIA framework when we look at applications to the MIL, it can be somewhat abstract and I think something more concrete would be useful. So here are some (made up) example profiles of the kinds of students that would be suited to the Master of Information Leadership.
    • Peter is an interim CIO with over 20 years experience in IT management working in a number of private and public sector organisations. Apart from a desire to develop his effectiveness further, he wishes to access the intellectual underpinnings of his role and be more active in the debates around his role, in a focused manner that an MBA would not. (SFIA 7)
    • Jane is an enterprise architect for a FMCG company, reporting directly into the UK CIO and is looking to progress to an information leadership position herself. Originally a physicist she has worked in systems analysis and technology advisory role in the 12 years prior to her current position. As the company requires her to meet with managers across the UK, the weekend delivery in London is convenient. (SFIA 6)
    • Sanjeev works in the UK as a key account manager for one of the large outsourcing firms. Educated at IIT he has spent the last 10 years rising via roles in service delivery and project management to be the direct interface with CIOs and IT directors in the retail sector. He wishes to move to a information leadership role himself and sees the MIL as helping gain the skills and networks to support this; the networking naturally being a benefit in his current role. (SFIA 5-6)
    • Jeroen is an independent IT consultant based in Belgium of 15 years experience with an impressive client list. He operates mostly in the Benelux region and occasionally in the UK. The London location makes the MIL convenient for him and allows him to network and tap into the latest thinking and ideas in the information leadership space and access the academic evidence base. (SFIA 6)
    • Mawusi is a VP IT Services of a financial services firm in the City looking after a large team and budget, but with heavy operational responsibilities; having worked up the ranks from a junior operations role 20 years ago. Though she has a reputation for operational excellence she wishes to move into a more strategic position and is attracted to the MIL's focus on the information leadership role and its balance of academic and professional development. (SFIA 6)
    • Eleanor is a first-time CTO for a charity based in Cambridgeshire. Previously she had 10 years experience in a major IT consultancy firm. She is looking for a course that is focused on the disciplines that underpin her new role to help her be more effective, and looks forward to sharing experiences with her peers in other sectors; the specialised nature of the MIL allowing this in a way a general management masters would not. (SFIA 7).
    • Sarah studied classics and entered the Civil Service fast stream as a generalist manager where she has acted over the last 8 years in a series of demanding management roles and is seen as a rising star. Four years ago she was transferred to the CIO's office of a government department reporting directly on information compliance and governance and has gained MBCS CITP status. The MIL interests her as it is an opportunity to gain the operational disciplines needed to progress onto the IT leadership team of the department. (strong SFIA 5)
    • Jack is a CISO for an insurance firm in Edinburgh. Originally graduating with a computer science degree he started in specialist security technology roles but 12 years later his role has become strongly business focused. The MIL offers Jack an opportunity to broaden his role in the company's IT leadership and the option to move out of security. The weekend delivery appeals to Jack as he can easily commute to London for the 10 weekends a year needed. (SFIA 6)
    • Mohson is a FBCS and IT Director of 8 years standing for a high-value manufacturing firm in the midlands that reports to the CFO. He sees IT as increasingly important to the business, but is having some difficulty in persuading the board. Mohson sees the MIL as an opportunity to get the broader background to transition IT leadership to the board and get exposure to the intellectual arguments needed to make the case for IT as a business enabler. (SFIA 7)
    • Steven is the Deputy Director of Information at a large legal practice in Manchester. His team's responsibilities extends to legal library resources, information compliance/strategy and IT based information resources with a £2m per year budget. Steven originally studied history and then library science and is a Chartered member of CILIP.  He sees the MIL as not only a route to advance his career but to engage with the wider cross-disciplinary intellectual issues the underpin the role of information in both organisations and wider society. (SFIA 6)
    • Jasmine is an experienced project and programme manager and MBCS CITP. After graduating with a degree in information systems 12 years ago she since has gained a reputation of turning around failing projects at a number of organisations. Three years ago she went freelance. The MIL interests Jasmine as she wishes to move progress her career to the next level and the weekend delivery allows her to do this and maintain her ability to get work. (SFIA 6)
    • Andrew is a programme manager for an expanding creative firm in Shoreditch. He entered the industry 11 years ago as a web programmer and quickly moved into team leader then project management positions across the digital creative sector in London. He is interested in the MIL given the centrality of information and innovation to the creative industries and would like to progress to a CTO position in the next generation of technological start-ups. (SFIA 6)
    • Jessica is a senior information manager in the NHS. After graduate positions for a few years as a health librarian she moved to more information systems oriented positions. In the last 8 years she has been instrumental in a number of significant health information projects. She sees the MIL as a way of entering the charities sector as an information leader (SFIA 5-6).
    Please note that the above profiles are fictitious and any resemblance to actual MIL students past, present or future is entirely coincidental.

    Of course, anyone is unsure or wishes to talk to me or David about whether the MIL is suitable for them - the invitation to discuss is here.

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