Competent business leaders possess superior strengths. In addition to professional qualifications, they tend to have strong business acumen and the self-motivation to keep up with the latest technology and knowledge.
"Both technical and soft skills are equally important for IT professionals," says K C Fung, director, technology solutions, Hong Kong, EMC Computer Systems (FE) Limited.
"Like any other profession, the role of local IT professionals needs to focus on value-added services rather than just the technical side," Mr Fung notes. "Resource-intensive jobs such as programme development have now been outsourced to mainland companies. As such, the core of our strength lies mainly on the value chain of the business."
A veteran with more than 20 years of experience, Mr Fung has witnessed the transformation of the local IT industry. "Early on, we only formulated computer programmes. Now, we help companies increase profits by means of IT integration," he says.
Compared to their mainland counterparts, local IT professionals are well-versed in the international business environment. "Hong Kong is a commercial city, rather than an R&D centre. We may not invent revolutionary IT applications, however, we can help modify them with better designs and quality that align with business requirements," Mr Fung elaborates.
For this reason, presentation and communication skills are of utmost importance. "The latest technologies are all about networking and team effort. Only with good presentation skills can we explain our ideas clearly to business users. Similarly, effective communication helps us understand and meet the needs of customers," he underlines.
"While hiring staff, I put attitude at the top of the list," Mr Fung says. He advises young IT professionals to take initiative and show extra commitment to the job. "This progressive attitude will impress your colleagues and even potential employers."
The life cycle for IT products is so short that on-the-job experiences can ensure deeper understanding of the industry. On top of that, continuous learning and professional qualifications are essential for climbing up the career ladder. Mr Fung keeps himself informed by reading industry journals as well as attending relevant conferences and forums.
"Building a social network with other professionals allows you to exchange industry information and gain deeper insights into the market. Becoming a member of the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) helps you do that," he says.
For professional qualifications, Mr Fung mentions that the HKCS offers CPD (continuous professional development) programmes for its members whereas Hong Kong Institute for IT Professional Certification (HKITPC) administers the CPIT (certified professional of IT) credentialing scheme.
A member of the assessment panel for the first HKCS Outstanding IT Achiever Awards 2008, Mr Fung believes that professional qualifications and industry accolades mirror one's motivation. "Only people who possess superior soft skills in addition to certificates can move further up," he emphasises.