Solid IT knowledge is not the first selection criterion

Published on 18/11/2016 in Inspire

Solid IT knowledge is not the first selection criterion

The way in which business and IT work together has evolved greatly over the past few years. This is prompting a change in how we view IT – and the ideal profile of IT specialists. They are no longer technical nerds, but people with social skills and a sense of initiative.

If a company wants to change its emphases, then one of the first ways it can do so is by recruiting new staff. Many of today’s IT people went to school in the 1980s and 1990s. They come from a time when business and IT existed side by side, without any contact worthy of mention. They are staff who have gone through a whole evolution. From IT as an island towards the constant interaction we see today, where business and IT work together in the true sense of the word.”

Efficient project management

“Co-creation is the reality now. As a result, IT people have to have very different skills than they did about 20 years ago. What is more, there are so many specialized fields these days that it’s impossible for a company to have its own in-house experts for each of these fields. So IT people not only have to be able to work well with their colleagues from the business side, but also with various external parties. Guiding and managing external experts properly is crucial here. The importance of efficient project management is increasing.”

Customer-oriented approach

“Now more than ever, the IT department has to evolve in line with the wishes of the end user. It’s a matter of correctly assessing demands, requirements and expectations. IT has evolved a great deal: from a product-oriented approach with an internal focus to a customeroriented approach with an external focus. This, too, calls for a different set of capabilities, with a greater need than ever for well developed soft skills. Today we expect IT people to have the necessary sense of business. As far as I am concerned, IT people can take the initiative more themselves. As a company, you want nothing more than for your staff to put all their talent into their work. As a company, you can bring the human capital even more to the fore.”

Fitting into the corporate culture

“In the past, companies worked on a very hierarchical basis. Young people are no longer familiar with this approach. That’s not a bad thing; they shouldn’tfeel held back by it, either. So new staff members are being given a new role. They are the catalyst for change. They are the factor that sets something in motion. I really am convinced that you can trigger this new process by attracting the right young people on a very targeted basis. Of course, education can make a contribution here, too. University and college courses still put too much emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge. But is knowledge what companies are seeking in a new staff member? If I look at what happens in practice at AXA Bank, I see that, first and foremost, we search for people who have an affinity with the financial world. We recruit economists and commercial engineers, but also communication specialists. Solid IT knowledge is not the first thing we consider, but rather social skills, whether someone fits into our corporate culture and whether they display entrepreneurship.”

Soft skills

“In the past you made a concrete study choice. You followed your course of study and then you were ready to enter a specific profession. That idea does not really stand up any more. Employers look further than the diploma. And – which is at least just as important – students, too, need to realize that the diploma alone is no longer enough these days. That realization is there. Education is responding to this, as well, for instance by focusing more on the development of soft skills, such as through group work.”


“Although pure IT skills may not be the first thing a company looks for, they are, of course, still important. Employers want staff who tick all the boxes, with both IT knowledge and social skills. Versatility is very important here: proactive staff who can contribute something to the company today and tomorrow, whatever direction it may take. These are people in whom a company is pleased to invest.”

“IT has evolved from a product-oriented approach with an internal focus to a customer-oriented approach.”

Wim Ravijts

Is Head of IT Planning & Delivery at AXA Bank. He also teaches project risk management at the EHSAL Management School.


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