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2/15/2002
02:12 PM
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IT Confidential

"I may have to get a loan and go to MBA school. Can't imagine being out of the workforce for two years. Technology changes too fast for that."

I received quite a bit of feedback regarding an item in last week's column about a 25-year IT veteran who worked in the World Trade Center and got laid off when his company moved its IT operations back to the Midwest. However, there was more commiseration than job leads.

An example: "My CIO position was eliminated late in October. I'm looking at whatever exec-level software positions may come open in IT or in software development companies (since software development comprises most of my 24-year background). ... I'm in Colorado Springs, Colo., and if you've heard that executive-level IT jobs are hard to come by in New York, by comparison I'd say it is nearly hopeless in Colorado Springs." Or this: "I've been in IT since 1982, a systems admin for IBM computing systems and the iSeries AS/400; most recently, though, as a presales systems engineer for two software companies since October '99. I was RIF'd (reduction in force) in July 2001 and haven't been able to get a decent interview, let alone a job offer, since then. ... Unless I'm open to learning to code again, which I hated in 1982, then I'm forced to sit on the sidelines and wait out this economic downturn."

There's something eerily familiar about these letters, and it has to do with the experience level of the writers. Back when there was an IT talent shortage (remember?), a segment of the IT population claimed it was being cut out of the job market--those on the plus side of the experience equation. Now that there's a dearth of IT jobs, you don't hear much about age discrimination in IT hiring, but does that mean it's disappeared? Or has it simply been subsumed in the general downsizing? I don't know; I'm just asking.

Somebody still values experience, part 1: Home Depot doesn't seem to have anything against age and experience. The tool-and-supplies retailer said last week it's hired Bob DeRodes as executive VP of IT and CIO. DeRodes, 51, will report to chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli. He takes the spot vacated by Ron Griffin, who went to Lewisville, Texas, wholesale food distributor Fleming earlier this year. DeRodes comes to Home Depot from Delta Air Lines, where he'd been serving a dual role since 1999 as CIO of Delta and president and CEO of Delta Technology, the wholly owned subsidiary that oversees all of the airline's IT and communication technology.

Somebody still values experience, part 2. Avnet, the Phoenix IT reseller and service provider, said last week that Robert Mason would take over next month as VP and CIO. He'll report to CEO Roy Vallee. Mason was most recently CIO of Cendant, the travel and hospitality conglomerate. Mason has been in IT for more than 25 years, having had executive posts in information services with Anheuser Busch, GE Lighting, and Johnson & Johnson. "Bob Mason is clearly a talented, experienced, and capable leader in IT and we are very excited to have him with us," Vallee says. So there.

As for open IT positions, Quaker Oats is still looking for a CIO since its top tech exec, Patricia Morrison, went to Office Depot last month. Morrison stepped into that spot after Bill Seltzer retired at the end of last year. She has big shoes to fill: Seltzer was highly regarded for his tech savvy (he was runner-up for InformationWeek's Chief of the Year in 1999), having pioneered E-commerce, voice recognition, and wireless strategies at Office Depot.

It's nice to know someone's still got some bucks to throw around. This week, Salesforce.com, the CRM ASP launched in 1999 by Oracle alum Marc Benioff, is holding a foundation benefit-new product announcement that includes a bash at Manhattan's tony Russian Tea Room and a Carnegie Hall concert featuring David Bowie, Philip Glass, the Kronos Quartet, and Tibetan monks.


I'm there! (Look for me.) I'm a Bowie fan from way back. But what's with software companies and aging rock stars? They've never heard of Britney Spears or Limp Bizkit? OK, so maybe Limp Bizkit isn't the image an upscale software company wants to portray, but Britney sure seems to sell a lot of soda. Besides, my daughter would kill for the pop starlet's autograph, or an industry tip, which you can send to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about age discrimination, the (relative) value of experience, or the (relative) success of the ASP model, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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