IT’s most wanted: 16 traits of indispensable IT pros

March 20, 2018 Schellman & Company

On a good tech team, cross training and clear documentation keep projects humming along — even when colleagues need to be away — averting disaster. That said, have you ever noticed that when certain people in your office aren’t there, work tends to stall, deadlines slip, and sprints seem less … agile?

These standout IT pros know how to make themselves invaluable. They're the coders, project leads and managers the organization can’t do without. We asked a dozen IT experts what highly effective habits these folks have — and also mined their experience for tips on how to replicate the success of rock-star team members. Where you’re looking to hire top-notch talent or up your game to indispensable status, here’s what top performers do that make them so hard to replace.

They Can Code

Even non-tech staff are using their own coding solutions to solve problems these days. Those who have put the time in and learned to code are increasingly in demand.

“Using at least one scripting language is a life skill for anyone,” says Matt Wilgus, practice director of threat and vulnerability assessment services of Schellman & Co. “Being able to accomplish a task that’s not in an application — or at least not part of a graphical user interface — is common. To get the most out of web services from vendors and move data in and out of disparate systems often requires interacting with data through scripts.”

You don’t need to create breakthrough algorithms, but learning how to write simple scripts can go a long ways, says Andrew Odewahn, CTO at tech publisher O’Reilly.

“For the vast majority of people working in the trenches, once you have a solid grounding in at least one language, learning how to learn is a more important skill than a degree in computer science,” Odewahn says. “Even simple systems involve many different tools and languages, so it would be nearly impossible to know them all ahead of time. You might find yourself working in Python, JavaScript, Git, GitHub and Docker on even a simple project, so the ability to take what you know how to do in one language or tool and quickly pick up another is crucial.”

They Can Do Your Job

It may seem counterintuitive, but a number of our sources said what they really appreciate is someone who keeps things running when they’re away, in a demanding environment and without a hitch.

“If you want a day off in the technology firm, you better be sure you have good people around you to stand in and cover,” says Kate Donofrio, technical lead of Schellman and Co. “I’ve taken many trips with laptops and let me tell you it takes a toll on your personal life. Be willing to teach those around you what you do, and don’t fear that they’ll take your job. In fact, you better train them so they can take your job, so there are places for you to move without putting the company at risk.”

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About the Author

Schellman & Company

Schellman & Company, LLC (Schellman) is a leading provider of attestation and compliance services. We are the only company in the world that is a CPA firm, a globally licensed PCI Qualified Security Assessor, an ISO Certification Body, HITRUST CSF Assessor, a FedRAMP 3PAO, and most recently, an APEC Accountability Agent. Renowned for expertise tempered by practical experience, Schellman's professionals provide superior client service balanced by steadfast independence. Our approach builds successful, long-term relationships and allows our clients to achieve multiple compliance objectives through a single third-party assessor.

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