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In an IT Career, Patience May be an Overlooked Virtue

A Q&A with N.J. Robinson, a longtime member of the HDI Strategic Advisory Board, on what he’s learned throughout his career.

HDI is assisted in its mission to support the IT service and support industries by the guidance of the HDI Strategic Advisory Board. These thought leaders, industry veterans, and solution providers help us see the big picture of the service management market.

We’ve long been indebted to N.J. Robinson, Deputy Director Information Technology with the U.S. Air Force, who has long contributed his time and wisdom to the board. Here, we ask him to look back on his journey.

Thank you for agreeing to be a part of HDI’s Strategic Advisory Board. Why do you think it’s important to give back to the IT service and support communities?

I believe in the importance of giving back to this great community because it is this community that welcomed me early in my IT career when I was in the Air Force, and many members provided their time and resources to help me grow. I feel it is important to pass along whatever I have to those coming up and with those on the journey with me.

What lesson did you learn from your biggest success in your career? And from one of your biggest challenges?

The biggest lesson I learned from a major success is to enjoy both the journey and the moment. I recall finally speaking at SupportWorld Live after wanting to since my first conference. I didn’t take time to reflect on the accomplishment, and a month or so afterwards I realizedI didn’t take time to appreciate both the work I put in and the accomplishment.

Regarding challenges, a consistent theme I’ve grown to learn, and at times relearn, is patience. Time has a way of working a lot of things out if you just be patient. Not everything necessitates a response right away, and sometimes you just need to let things develop. Don’t try to do it alone; there are people who want and are willing to help.

In your opinion, what skill or skills will be most needed in the next decade in this industry?

I may be biased because I speak a lot about leadership, but leadership and communication skills. In the next decade, what will be vital is the ability to transition quickly through what I refer to as the change response cycle of “adjust, normalize, and perform”. The person who accepts and starts performing and can lead their team through the dynamic IT environment will gain a competitive advantage over those who fail to adapt and find a way to prosper quicky. COVID-19 proved this.

What are you most proud of in your career, and why?

My network of IT Service & Support professionals gained through HDI – from “The Oracle” Roy Atkinson to my conference partners-in-crime Marni and Stephen, Ben, Tom, Patti, and Sanker, to my local chapter friends like Tony, Heather, and Carrie.

My HDI family is so helpful, caring, and everywhere. I know if I need something I can reach out to them and they will help, and they provide a safe space to be my authentic self.

You find yourself in a room full of IT service and support professionals and you have the opportunity to give them just one piece of advice to set them up for success. What would you say?

Get to know the people around you really, really, really well.

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