C-Level IT Career Opportunities for African-Americans discussed at CIO-Summit

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A summit and career panel discussion designed to motivate African-American information technology students recently took place at Winston-Salem State University. Chief information officers from some of the nation's top companies discussed how to be successful in the field and ascend to C-level positions.

On March 27, the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) joined forces with Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) to host the first ITSMF/WSSU CIO Summit. The career panel discussion was designed to encourage and provide a career roadmap for African-American information technology (IT) students.

African-Americans are represented in the information technology workforce in percentages far lower than any other ethnic group in the U.S. at a time when, according to surveys conducted by Robert Hall Technology, locating experienced people tops the list of staffing concerns for technology executives. One survey by Robert Hall Technology shows that nearly one in four (24 percent) chief information officers (CIOs) said finding skilled IT professionals is their greatest staffing challenge.

At the summit, CIOs from some of the nation's top companies provided candid career path information and detailed how to not only be a success in information technology, but to make it to C-level positions. Panelists challenged students to continually educate themselves, set goals, be risk takers and develop powerful networks. "Don't be afraid to take risks. All of the panelists here are risk takers and look for opportunities -- don't wait for them," said Gregory Morrison, VP & CIO of Cox Enterprises.

The ITSMF/WSSU CIO Summit provided an IT career roadmap for junior- and senior-level college students in the computer science and business schools at Winston-Salem State University; offered select high school students from the Bill Gates Academy exposure to career options within information technology; and raised funds for the Winston-Salem State University endowment.

After the panel discussion, students took the opportunity to meet with panelists in small group settings, where they received personalized advice on their personal career goals.

"Deliver results and do more than is needed to get there. When you are under pressure show courage, discipline and action," said Daphne Jones, Worldwide CIO for Ortho Clinical Diagnostics -- A Johnson & Johnson Company, when asked what she felt were keys to success in her career.

The summit, moderated by Nigel Alston, Chair, WSSU Board of Trustees, consisted of: Richard J.B. Campbell, President & CEO - Steel Pivot; Bruce Carver, VP & CIO - Cummins Inc.; Martin Davis, Corporate CIO - Wachovia Bank; Steve Edmonson, CIO - State of Ohio; Art Hopkins, President - Macquarium; Daphne Jones, Worldwide CIO for Ortho Clinical Diagnostics - a Johnson & Johnson Company; Zackarie Lemelle, CIO IT Corporate Systems (Johnson & Johnson) and ITSMF Chairperson; Gregory Morrison, VP & CIO - Cox Enterprises; James Nanton, Sr. VP & CIO - Hanesbrands Ltd.; and Theresa Wilson, Commercial Technology CIO - Wachovia.

Winston-Salem State University is a premier, master's-level public institution that develops the skills and values students need to contribute to and succeed in the changing economy of the 21st Century. Its world-class degree programs in growing fields such as health sciences, information technology, financial services and teacher education offer the flexibility to accommodate diverse life situations of both traditional and non-traditional students, ranging from recent high-school graduates to working adults. Winston-Salem State University is a historically black college.

The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to fostering senior-level executive talent among African-American information technology professionals. The organization provides a supportive network for enhancing the leadership skills of the IT executives that make up its membership. Its formal mentoring program helps dedicated mid-level managers grow into executive level positions in the IT profession.

To learn more about ITSMF, visit http://www.itsmfonline.org.

Pamela Wedgeworth
pamela @ wedgeworthbiz.com


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