Career Advice: When Security Runs Up Against Other IT Functions

Accretive Health CIO Paul Cottey answers questions about the conflict between security functions and others in IT, dealing with an angry co-worker and more.

Accretive Health's Paul Cottey

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader Paul Cottey

Title: CIO

Company: Accretive Health

Cottey is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about the conflict between security functions and others in IT, dealing with an angry co-worker and more. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com .

IT Career Guide: Advice for IT Professionals

I work in security , and sometimes it almost seems as if my department is at war with others in IT: app/dev, networking, you name it. How do we defuse this situation? You will never be able to avoid the push-me, pull-you between people's desire to be creative in solving business problems and the legitimate need of a business to be run in a secure fashion, but it does not need to be an all-out war. The best things you can do are to seek to understand the other person's point of view and then explain the rationale behind the point of view you are taking. I have found that few things make people madder than being told, "Because I said so!" when they ask what they feel is a legitimate clarifying question. If you are enforcing company policies or governmental laws, be specific, and if you know of an appeals process or another mechanism to find an exception, offer it up. You can't compromise your core principles, but you can be flexible and see shades of gray. At the end of the day, each of your departments needs to accomplish its goals, and most of the time there do not need to be winners and losers.

I have a co-worker who sometimes becomes almost blind with rage. Most of my colleagues laugh it off, but aside from the damage to equipment I have seen this person do, I'm concerned that he could harm someone. What should I do? It sounds to me like this person gets not just angry but physically violent. There is no place in the workplace for physical violence, and although it may "only" be equipment now, I share your concern that a person could be next. If you have already talked to your supervisor about this person's behavior, and you have not seen changes, then it is time either to talk to HR or to your company's anonymous hotline (if it has one). If neither of those outlets is available to you, or you have tried them already and not seen changes, then it is time to update your rsum and find a work environment that is safe and constructive.

I've suddenly become bored with my job as a desktop specialist. Any advice on revitalizing my interest? My guess is that you are bored because you have gotten progressively better at the main tasks you are asked to perform and now you don't see the challenge in them. It may feel like it happened suddenly, but the boredom was probably creeping up on you for some time as you got the hang of your daily tasks. This means you are unlikely to revitalize your interest in the previous tasks, but it doesn't mean that you can't revitalize your interest in your job. If there is an opportunity for advancement, go to your boss and talk to him/her about it. Don't say, "I'm bored"; say, "I'm ready for additional responsibilities" or "I have some ideas on ways I could do my current job and more." If there is not an opportunity for advancement then think about what the characteristics of a job you were not bored with would be -- for example, more end-user contact. See if you can work more of those things into your daily work. If not, pursue some activities on your own that will either open up opportunities at your current company or elsewhere. You might look at certifications or public speaking classes or some other activities that will keep you busy in the short term (and relieve some of your boredom) and will open up opportunities in the future.

Six months ago, I took a new job with a significant pay increase. It seemed like a no-brainer, but now I regret it. I don't like my boss or this company's culture. Do you think it would be a mistake to try to get my old job back? Yes, I think it is a mistake to try to get your old job back. I assume you got an increased set of responsibilities along with the significant pay increase with your new job, and it would be a mistake from a career perspective to go backward in your responsibilities and pay. Six months is also too long to have "buyer's remorse" and admit you made a mistake, and all the reasons you were willing to leave your former job will still be there if you go back. You are never again likely to enjoy the same level of confidence you once did in your old job since you demonstrated you were willing to leave them once, and no one likes to be burned twice by the same fire. Learn what you would have done differently in the interview process to get a better understanding of the work environment and the culture and apply these to your next job search. Use your increased responsibilities and salary to find a job with those characteristics but in a better environment for you.

Read more about careers in Computerworld's Careers Topic Center.

This story, "Career Advice: When Security Runs Up Against Other IT Functions" was originally published by Computerworld.

Related:

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams