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Where does security fit in bi-modal IT departments?

Mary K. Pratt | Sept. 17, 2015
There seems to be disagreement as to whether security workers should be in the innovation camp or look after the day-to-day operations.

Stuck with the lights-on group?

Daryl Tschoepe doesn’t feel as though security is pigeonholed into one camp or the other. “I think now security has to be part of every discussion. But I guess it’s operational because it has to be there in every aspect.”

He is a 26-year IT veteran, who now works as a technology support manager at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. He says he sees IT work fall into operational and innovation work, but for small departments like his, “we have both factions within a single org.”

The IT leadership at Southwestern encourages that, he says. His CIO asks the 14-member IT team to think about what technology will be needed three years down the line, or how would the technology look if they had to build a new college from the ground up.

Despite such questions, Tschoepe says not everyone has an equal balance between operational and innovation work. He says management has more responsibilities around innovation and strategy, while individual contributors focus more on keeping things running.

“I would think being on the change agent side and being able to demonstrate that kind of track record; it would be easier to move up in your organization or move to other organizations. Organizations don’t usually staff up or hire people to stay the same,” Tschoepe says.

Tschoepe adds: “But if you have someone who can think outside the box and roll with the punches, they’ll be more valuable especially in a small organization like ours where the day-to-day commands can change dramatically.”

He says being in one group only is not a career death knell. “If you’re very specialized in an operational niche that is very important, you can have excellent earning potential,” he says, adding: “I don’t think you limit yourself, but the challenge is if you’re going to go into the operational niche you must focus yourself very narrowly and you go very deep.”


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