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Mon 22 Jan 2007 02:00 PM

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Secret CIO pins his hopes on next year’s Top Ten

Once again - so my spies tell me - I’ve been left out of ACN’s annual list of The Top 10 IT Managers in the Middle East.

Well, that’s the thanks you get.

Once again - so my spies tell me - I’ve been left out of ACN’s annual list of The Top 10 IT Managers in the Middle East. Despite the bribes of boxes of chocolate, free mouse mats and tickets to the ABBA tribute band, all of my valiant efforts to drag my firm’s IT infrastructure into the 20th century (we’re working up to the 21st) will go unsung yet again.

“We can’t give you too much exposure,” claimed the editor (he who must be obeyed). “Also, it’s probably a conflict of interest or something like that,” he added, while chewing on an expensive chocolate and humming ‘Dancing Queen’.

She who must be obeyed offered me scant comfort: “You should be more proactive – tell people what your IT department is doing.”

Now, this is a tricky one – I work for an organisation that, for better or worse, tends towards being rather media shy. Even based here in mediasavvy Dubai, where you haven’t actually made it as an IT manager unless you’ve been on the cover of ACN, there are still a few companies left that value their privacy.

Jokes about the modernity of my IT department aside, I genuinely feel we do some really good work – there are plenty of projects I’d like to see covered in glowing terms within the esteemed publication you now hold in your hands [that’s enough crawling, you’re still not getting in – Ed].

But thanks to company policy, and more particularly an unfortunate experience some years ago involving a whizzy ERP implementation, an inopportune system bug and an overlyobservant journalist on a site visit, I’ve had no choice but to avoid blowing my own trumpet about our IT success stories. For many organisations, though, it seems speaking to the media is not as clear-cut, and even ultrasensitive organisations such as Saudi Aramco have been known to allow their executives off the official leash long enough to conduct an interview.

So it can be done – but what’s the best way to go about it?

For my money, the first thing you should do is figure out why exactly you want to talk about your project – if it’s just to get your picture in a magazine, and impress your boss and your friends at the golf club, then you may be barking up the wrong tree.

If, on the other hand, you think people might be impressed by the project and the quality of your department, well, that’s a different matter. And if you’ve got a recalcitrant boss who can’t see why his IT department should be speaking to the press, “it’s going to make the organisation look really good” is likely to be more persuasive than “my friend Abdulrahman was in it last month”.

So work on your boss, and make sure you identify some top-class projects to focus on – it might even put you in The List next year. Speaking of which, I’m off – I think I need to improve my bribing technique…

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