As a busy mother, you probably already feel like you’re working a full-time job. But unfortunately, you’re role as Super Mom doesn’t quite pay the bills or offer the benefits you need to keep your family happy and healthy.
If you have an interest in technology, but aren’t necessarily savvy when it comes to programming languages and operating systems, a career in information technology (IT) management might be right up your alley.
After all, experts in the field agree that many IT management skills are closely aligned with responsibilities you master every day as a mother.
“Being a mom has helped me in so many ways with my profession,” says Shawn Hurley, senior project manager and software developer at HalloweenCostumes.com. “The leadership skills you gain from motherhood are invaluable in helping your team reach its full potential!”
What does this mean? You may already be destined for success as an IT manager!
What does an IT manager do?
Before we get any further, it’s important that you have a good understanding of what an IT manager does exactly.
IT managers plan and oversee information technology projects by supervising the work of technical staff, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Put simply, IT managers serve as a liaison between the business and technical personnel involved in a project.
Insight from real IT manager moms
We spoke with three moms who work in IT management to find out why mothers tend to excel in this industry. After hearing their thoughts, we’ve compiled a list of six IT management skills that directly correlate with daily mom duties.
Being organized is never a bad thing, but for IT managers in particular, it is essential in ensuring the success of your team. Successful IT managers establish a plan up front and create checklists to monitor progress, according to Liz Pearce, CEO of Seattle-based LiquidPlanner.com.
Impeccable organization helps each member of your team understand exactly what’s expected of them and assures they stay on track. It’s even more helpful to keep yourself on track. With so many moving parts working on multiple tasks simultaneously, it’s easy to stray off course if you’re disorganized.
Mom skills: Whether you have one child or multiple, your little ones’ activities are sure to keep you on the fly. As a mom with kids participating in several activities and sports, Hurley insists on staying ultra-organized in order to get everyone where they need to be on time. This is a vital skill she’s been required to master in both her personal and professional life.
Communication skills are necessary in nearly every profession, but it’s especially imperative for IT managers. Think about it: Your basic duty is to supervise a group of employees, all of whom have very different talents, responsibilities and ways of communicating.
If you can’t effectively convey instructions, delegate tasks and manage expectations with each member of your team, the entire project will be jeopardized. All of our IT manager moms agreed that the best way to avoid problems is to keep an open and consistent line of communication between yourself and your team.
Mom skills: Even before your child uttered his or her first word, you’ve been constantly sharpening your communication skills to console, discipline, entertain and teach your child. Not to mention the communication you have on behalf of your child with doctors, teachers, coaches and other family members. Each of these individuals plays a unique role in your child’s life and you constantly adjust your communication style according to the person and context.
As an IT manager, you are the point of contact for each person involved in a particular project. It’s your job to assemble all of the pieces of the puzzle to create the final masterpiece. The complicated part is that each of those individuals is convinced that their piece of the puzzle is the most important.
“Successful project managers understand how to prioritize their projects and identify key processes than can be automated,” according to Pearce. She says it’s critical to focus on the things that matter most and put the less important things on the backburner.
Overseeing multiple team members who are wholly invested in their own personal tasks makes it tricky to prioritize. But as the project manager, it’s ultimately your job to decide which jobs are worth investing time and resources and which are not.
Mom skills: Every mother can sympathize with the idea that there are never enough hours in the day, Pearce says. As much as you’d like to get everything done and make everyone happy, sometimes it’s just impossible. That means that sometimes you have to make the difficult decision to skip out on happy hour with your girlfriends in order to make it to your daughter’s dance recital.
4. Time management
One common theme throughout most projects is that time is money. With this in mind, it is essential that IT managers make the best use of everyone’s time and talents. This means developing a timeline and sticking to it
Project managers should be focused on outcomes and delivery, according to Ashley Flitter, mother of one and director of web development at HalloweenCostumes.com. She always provides timelines for the employees she oversees and checks in on their progress to keep a constant pulse on each project.
Mom skills: How many times have you sent your son to clean his room only to find him playing with his Legos ten minutes later? Everyone knows that kids are easily distracted, so it’s often mom’s job to check in and keep them on-task when needed. This skill is especially valuable when your kids are older and responsible for homework. Sometimes everyone needs a little nudge from mom to keep them focused.
In the midst of an important project, once in a while you’re bound to encounter a barrier. When unexpected issues arise, the IT project manager must be prepared to adapt and adjust as needed.
“While everyone finds comfort in routines, you also have to be able to roll with the punches and make the best out of challenging circumstances,” Pearce says.
No matter what is thrown your way, as the project manager it is your job to keep things progressing towards the final goal. The faster you’re able to recover from a setback, the more successful and productive your team will be.
Mom skills: One of the most important things you learn as a mom is to always expect the unexpected. As soon as you get comfortable and assume all is well, your daughter comes down with the flu and it throws a wrench into your entire day. Rather than panicking, you simply make some phone calls, move a few things around and put on your nurse hat without batting an eye.
The IT manager is the middle man between the business folks and the technical folks. Any time you are dealing with two groups of people that have divergent interests, there will likely be negotiating involved.
As the project manager, it is your responsibility to negotiate over resources, scope and budget in order to find a happy medium for all parties involved. In order to do so, you’ve got to know your team and what makes them tick. That way you’re able to reach the best compromise so everyone wins.
Mom skills: Does this sound familiar, “I’ll tell you what, if you finish your broccoli, I’ll read you an extra bedtime story tonight!” or “You can pick out the movie tonight but it’s your sister’s choice tomorrow.” It probably didn’t take long for you to learn that as long as everyone’s happy, mom will have some peace and quiet. Knowing this, you’re accustomed to finding creative ways to reach neutral ground.
Can you relate to these moms?
Does hearing from these IT moms strike a chord with you? If you’re looking to start a new career—one that will leverage your skills as a mother while also providing you with a steady paycheck—IT management might be just what you’re looking for.
You’re already employing some of the most important IT management skills in your personal life, so why not utilize them in your professional life as well?
If you’re interested in becoming an IT manager, earning an information technology management degree is a great place to start. It will help provide you with the technical knowledge and education to complement the natural qualities you already possess.
Your mom duties have already begun preparing you for a career in IT management. In fact, they may even be more difficult, Flitter says. “I have to admit, sticking to your guns with kids is a lot harder than with developers.”
For more information on careers in technology, download our free Technology Career Outlook today!