IT Leaders aren’t All Coming from Tech

Wouldn’t you know that the leaders of today’s IT workforce are not always from the ranks of IT? That’s what Sharon Florentine finds in an interview with Francis Li. In an article for, Li shares his own career story, from hardware operations and marketing to his current position as VP of Softchoice.

Crisscross Career

His is a story of choices made and risks taken. Instead of languishing in the lower ranks of an IT silo or a business department, Li followed his natural curiosity about the intersection of business and technology across departmental and disciplinary boundaries. This errant career man took an integrative path that mirrors the current relationship between business and IT units, in time producing for Softchoice the ultimate leadership candidate.

Leader as Bridge

As a man with more than a little wisdom to share, Li relates the importance of maintaining software compatibility and integration despite increasing business use of Cloud and SaaS without the help of IT. Having experience from both IT and business units, like marketing and sales, facilitates this relationship.  

Li’s coworker, Erika Van Noort, is keen to point out the necessity of acquiring leaders who can empathize from all perspectives within and outside the business. Noort’s leadership philosophy is a revision of the traditional technical IT approach that focuses on users as customers who desire a fully functional and relevant end product:

…most technology deployments are done from the top down and result in employees complaining afterward that the systems and solutions aren't helping them do their jobs. Instead, [Noort] advises, get buy-in from customers and employees first, and then determine from there which technology will best fit those needs.

Noort’s approach is congenial to what is commonly known as cross-functional development. A style that harkens to Li’s background and that draws upon DevOps strategy, it not only works for today’s business, but also molds a better brand of IT leader.

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