: Azmi Jafarey
: VP of IT at Ipswitch, Inc.
:M.S. in chemical engineering from University of Massachusetts
Tenure in IT industry
: 26+ years
First Tech Job
: Process control engineer at Monsanto Chemical Company around 1978
: As the VP of IT I manage IT, tech support, customer service, project management, logistics, and fulfillment. It's a demanding role but it's also very rewarding to have a hand in all these aspects of the business.
What's been your best job and why?
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Working at Ipswitch has far exceeded my expectations. I believe this company has a very bright and successful future, I have plenty of room to grow here and I have a hand in shaping the company's prosperity.
What do you think is the number one non-IT skill IT professionals need today?
Understanding business needs. A well-rounded IT professional will understand all aspects of the business and should get involved in multiple non-IT projects and departments. The goal should be to learn what the customers need and figure out how to produce that.
What do you credit your career success to?
My success is partially attributed to my education at UMASS. When I left college, I was well prepared to enter the workforce. In fact, I wasn't sure where to begin because I had so many choices.
I also owe a great deal of my success to my boss at Monsanto Chemical Company. Monsanto was my first job out of college and my boss was my mentor. One of the most important things he taught me was to listen to the customers needs. If I give the customer what they need, in turn, they'll give me what I need—their business.
What are the top three skills a high-level IT manager needs today?
IT managers need to understand the needs of the business, first and foremost. Second, they need to know how to make the staff the most efficient while maintaining an entertaining atmosphere. And lastly, it may sound impossible, but they need to see into the future; think new and innovative ideas as well as research market trends and analyze the competition.
What's your favorite IT resource site and why?
InformationWeek is one of my most utilized resources because of the timely information and its concise presentation.
What is the best career advice you've ever received?
Speed is the real competitive advantage. We're all doing the same thing; the winner is who does it first.
What's the top advice you'd give to a new IT staffer?
Think big and don't be afraid to make mistakes. However, if you make them, make them quickly, learn from it and move on.
What is the one career decision you would change if you could?
I would have changed jobs more frequently. While I've had multiple job titles, they've all been within the walls of only three companies. I think the best way to learn is by doing. For instance, do you want to work for a big or small company? You have to test out both before you can make an informed decision.
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