Do I choose the great communicator or the great executor?

Dear Aunty B,

I have a dilemma. We have about 75 staff, 25 of which we hired this year.

I am boosting our management team and have two very strong candidates vying for one position. I have considered everything, including splitting the role or having them both report to me, but I have decided I just have to make a call.

So here is the problem. In a nutshell Aunty, I am looking for a head of IT. So here are my two candidates. I have a guy who is great at execution, can do the job of any members of his team, has all the tech know-how and as he has come up through the ranks he knows the business backwards.

The problem is he is not the world’s greatest communicator and he doesn’t set the world on fire in terms of talking big picture.

The other candidate is this well organised woman who has been in charge of project development so she has had a lot to do with IT, but she can’t code or anything.

I know you should always have a senior manager who can do the job so I would worry that the IT team will not respect her as she can not walk the talk. However, she has a much broader picture of the business than the guy, she is a great communicator between the different areas of the business and IT, and she understands the company’s priorities, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the IT department just doing any projects that come their way.


Dear HS,

Hire the woman. So what if she can’t code. The world is full of coders. But what she can do is priceless. Someone who can communicate between different areas of the business about IT? Priceless. Someone who gets IT and the business priorities of the business? Priceless. Someone who understands the ROI in order to ensure future resources are not wasted? Gold.

Look, the biggest problem with IT is, well where do I start? You have a bunch of staff running around needing IT to do stuff and be at their beck and call and the IT people, bless them, have their heads down staring at their keyboards trying to keep up.

The perfect person to run IT is the type who can cut through demands and complexity to see what needs to be done and when. They need to be well organised, great communicators, understand the business direction, know the resources constraint and be excellent at communicating the lot to demanding staff and customers. Just make sure when you appoint her that you explain her role to staff and make sure that you tell the guy who missed out that he is her number one go-to.

Be smart,
Your Aunty B

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