Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

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LiveSimple
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Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Sep 23, 2019 2:51 am

Folks, following the discussion viewtopic.php?t=290818. ( IT Compensation Comparison )
Was planning to gain some pointers, for the career progression in IT at age 50, however choose not divert that discussion, hence starting a new discussion, however you can see that this may be related....many who responded there, may have more insights for my discussion here.

Being somewhat a big fish in a small pond, not many mentors here all along, hence seeking your advise here with a larger pool.

Call it mid life crisis or late life crisis, I am planning for a career change, so want your thoughts on how to proceed if you are in IT / Software Technology Product companies.

Overall, from a financial perspective, we are well positioned if I can work for next 10 years, to keep up with the expenses from the compensation, it would be wonderful. ( Compared to FIRE / Semi Retire / Retire Now )

My skillset is enterprise architecture for corporate setting, worked along the CTO or in that path (Not the CIO / operations path.) Have been an individual contributor, never a manager. Today my skills are more people skills than technology, can lead teams for consensus and drive the solution development across various teams with different perspectives. More of a collaborator / influencer than a hands on techie. One of my colleague used to describe our role as "eyes and ears to the organization, than hands and legs to the organization"

There is no risk of losing the job in the current position, if I want can work next 10 /15 years or till retirement, in the same company.

However have an urge to do something different and looking to really get into executive level at the director or so....in a different company.
Looking at the trend now business analytics, digital innovation is hot so wanted to see if I can break into these areas....

Wanted to know from your personal experiences at your work, do you see new hires at the my age coming in.

Also was interviewed at a FAANG company a year ago, and the interview did not go well, I cannot make up and answer for STAR format for a question like
"Tell me a situation, that you were totally wrong with a client and how did you handle that"

Being a "trusted advisor" and more of a collaborative decision maker, it is hard to simulate an answer for these types of questions that is more fit for a 30 - 35 years professionals... or I am missing something here in these interviews.

One of my motivation for me is, I do see a business leader, who after 25 years in a company, started in our company as a senior manager, then director and now a VP.

I want to model that start at some other company and grow as possible. Growth is not possible for me in my Current position or current company.

What are your thoughts ,, where can you help provide pointers or what should I do ?

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by Agent007 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:07 am

I'm not sure you're totally clear on your goal. These statements are a mismatch for me:
- "Have been an individual contributor, never a manager"
- "looking to really get into executive level at the director or so"
- "interviewed at a FAANG company a year ago"

Without management experience, it is highly improbable to be a director at a FAANG company. In order to get a director role, you most likely would have to go to a startup / smaller company. A larger role at a larger company is difficult to find.

You should understand your strengths and what your motivations are. If you're interested in a management role (even just trying that out) then that's more possible at your current company or at a smaller company. If you're not interested in managing (and btw it's a pain in the ass) and instead want to focus on technology / product - then going to a larger / new company is probably better.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:40 am

Agent007, thanks for the note. Sure, will try to expand. I have to find my short comings / strengths as well.

I came through the ranks of technical architecture stream of firms like Hewlett Packard / IBM / boutique Technology Consulting firms of the late 1990 / early 2000 where there are two streams, of professionals.

Contributing roles, such as architects, principal engineers, experts, etc, this role has the expert skills and no people management or budget or sales responsibilities.

Managing Roles responsible for the people management, contracts, sales, budgets etc.

Both roles are mapped for compensation, you will be compensated as the technical expert as the director role, without the director title.
IBM fellow used to be a VP role compensation many moons ago, not sure of today, as I am out of touch.

Another role. I have played is the technical advisor to the client partner, client partner has the sales, my role is to support the technical solution during the sales, think proof of concept etc.

So even though I have never had the title as "Director" the compensation is at that level, sometimes the management / executives the bonus is additional and at a higher rate. The same for many of my colleagues across the country at various corporate organizations....

I moved from consulting to corporate role for the last 10 years, with a compensation at $200 - $225 K in the midwest, with the title as "Architect" / individual contributor, if that gives some perspective. ignoring the titles or roles, day to day tasks. The compensation was high, when I joined, but there are no raises, expect for some inflation adjustments.

Another perspective on my skillset / role is that to help the VP devise a plan how to spend his $MMM millions in a year or two or three years. I can provide the solution blueprint.... no great title but technical influencer role with interactions to the business leadership and technical leadership.

Also provide leadership to the whole technical teams on solutions...collaborate and bring teams together, every rectangle I draw in my powerpoint will cost the company $250 K to $500 K technology solution expense...

Nowadays I am more of a business technical advisor than a pure technologist.

Well compensated without the titles or never been in the office politics, as they know I come, help and go and never take their roles. Throughly enjoyed / enjoying...

If I make a jump, I am looking at $300+ K compensation, with a title of director if possible.

One way again is go back to consulting in the latest trends and land a leadership role in corporate.
Last edited by LiveSimple on Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:31 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:49 am

See this post as well viewtopic.php?p=3777939#p3777939. ( Can I afford to move to a lower paying career ? )
  • Global role has become next to impossible to do with reduced resources and increase responsibilities combined with unrealistic expectations. Many evening calls to Asia, early morning calls to India and Europe. Culture has changed to become increasingly toxic and cutthroat. Live in area with no other opportunities
Never had those problems in my career, no offshore, no budget, day to day deliverables, etc...

More I think, my role is more strategic than tactical, hence there are some ease of work... than the normal tactical work.

So will be interested something similar, more impact and less tactical stuff roles...

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:02 am

Agent007 wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:07 am
If you're not interested in managing (and btw it's a pain in the ass) and instead want to focus on technology / product - then going to a larger / new company is probably better.
Exactly, this is what I want to pursue and see...thanks...

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by Shackleton » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:21 am

I did that move, from enterprise architect at F100 companies (2 of them over 12 years, after having been tech lead/solution architect before that.) Decided the stress was getting to me, and move to a Director position - but here's the kicker, I moved to a non-profit. So my compensation went down by over 70%. Yes, you read that right - 70 PERCENT. But I took the job because I love the non-profit, not because I was looking to move forward in my career. I'm extremely happy with my decision, but managing PEOPLE as opposed to managing technology decisions, is very different and probably not for everyone. And I manage a LOT of people (I'm the Director of Volunteer Services, and we have > 1400 volunteers. I manage them with a staff of two.) Also, my retirement savings are sufficient, and I just wanted to get enough compensation to cover my monthly bills, which this position does.

Not sure it helps, but thought I'd throw out my experience.
“Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results.” ~Ernest Shackleton

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:29 am

Shackleton wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:21 am
I did that move, from enterprise architect at F100 companies (2 of them over 12 years, after having been tech lead/solution architect before that.) Decided the stress was getting to me, and move to a Director position - but here's the kicker, I moved to a non-profit. So my compensation went down by over 70%. Yes, you read that right - 70 PERCENT. But I took the job because I love the non-profit, not because I was looking to move forward in my career. I'm extremely happy with my decision, but managing PEOPLE as opposed to managing technology decisions, is very different and probably not for everyone. And I manage a LOT of people (I'm the Director of Volunteer Services, and we have > 1400 volunteers. I manage them with a staff of two.) Also, my retirement savings are sufficient, and I just wanted to get enough compensation to cover my monthly bills, which this position does.

Not sure it helps, but thought I'd throw out my experience.
Appreciate your sharing, sometime we are thinking the same as well, if the day job compensate to cover the monthly bills, in a nice location that is a goal too. Just looking out to let see what pans out.

Shackleton, you are helping me to see what is outside so we can make the appropriate decisions...

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by Shackleton » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:41 am

Well, that is the best part of my new gig, I live in a GREAT area (a vacation destination that we've always loved/visited) and by now having a local job, I'm becoming much more a part of the community. We've lived in this area for 2 years already, but since I was a remote IT worker, I never really was seen as a "local" -- now I am! Oh, and I get to go MTB or skiing over my lunch hour, which doesn't suck. :D
“Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results.” ~Ernest Shackleton

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:55 pm

Shackleton wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:41 am
Well, that is the best part of my new gig, I live in a GREAT area (a vacation destination that we've always loved/visited) and by now having a local job, I'm becoming much more a part of the community. We've lived in this area for 2 years already, but since I was a remote IT worker, I never really was seen as a "local" -- now I am! Oh, and I get to go MTB or skiing over my lunch hour, which doesn't suck. :D
Good to know !!!

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by beyou » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:10 pm

Why are you so sure of the stability of your current job ?
Assuming you are correct, personally if you want to retire, such safety is of huge value.
Also as you get up there in age, your health may warrant having a job where you are well known and given some slack when you need
to take care of your health. It's all downhill physically after 50..... Could be slower or faster for you, but downhill no matter.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:43 am

beyou wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:10 pm
beyou, your points are well taken and you are absolutely correct on health and work adjustments as we age.
Last edited by LiveSimple on Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by jharkin » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:16 am

To be honest, if you have never even managed 1 person in your career at age 50... what makes you think you can make the jump to management track now and make director/vp in a couple years?

Most people i know who made it even to the VP level (sorry, but when I think "executive" I think of 3 letter titles that start with "C") where picked for the management track in their 20s and groomed for years. I was basically forced into my first management job (called a "group leader" with 3-5 reports) around age 28, then moved though manager (32) and director (35) and did that for a while before moving back to an IC role when I was made aware that I just wasn't on that companies "VP material" shortlist. Then I moved companies.

BTW, this is all in midsize, non-FAANG pure software companies where"directors" might manage 30-50 people and earn 120-180k + bonuses. 300k sounds more like a director in a BIG corporation i.e. MSFT size where they might manage 100s of people and have more the authority of a VP at a small firm.

In these organizations, people who made VP where typically identified as "senior management material" at a young age and groomed/fast tracked (many organizations still use things like 9 box exercises to identify such employees). In a fast paced high tech firm, if its not clear that you are on that track age 35~40... well you are not on that track, period. In the FAANGs the bias is probably even younger. Ageism sucks. Its not legal. But it happens all the time. :(

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by cherijoh » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:13 am

LiveSimple wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 2:51 am
Call it mid life crisis or late life crisis, I am planning for a career change, so want your thoughts on how to proceed if you are in IT / Software Technology Product companies.

Overall, from a financial perspective, we are well positioned if I can work for next 10 years, to keep up with the expenses from the compensation, it would be wonderful. ( Compared to FIRE / Semi Retire / Retire Now )

There is no risk of losing the job in the current position, if I want can work next 10 /15 years or till retirement, in the same company.

However have an urge to do something different and looking to really get into executive level at the director or so....in a different company.
Looking at the trend now business analytics, digital innovation is hot so wanted to see if I can break into these areas....

One of my motivation for me is, I do see a business leader, who after 25 years in a company, started in our company as a senior manager, then director and now a VP.

I want to model that start at some other company and grow as possible. Growth is not possible for me in my Current position or current company.
LiveSimple wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:40 am
I moved from consulting to corporate role for the last 10 years, with a compensation at $200 - $225 K in the midwest, with the title as "Architect" / individual contributor, if that gives some perspective. ignoring the titles or roles, day to day tasks. The compensation was high, when I joined, but there are no raises, expect for some inflation adjustments.

Another perspective on my skillset / role is that to help the VP devise a plan how to spend his $MMM millions in a year or two or three years. I can provide the solution blueprint.... no great title but technical influencer role with interactions to the business leadership and technical leadership.

Also provide leadership to the whole technical teams on solutions...collaborate and bring teams together, every rectangle I draw in my powerpoint will cost the company $250 K to $500 K technology solution expense...

Nowadays I am more of a business technical advisor than a pure technologist.

Well compensated without the titles or never been in the office politics, as they know I come, help and go and never take their roles. Throughly enjoyed / enjoying...

If I make a jump, I am looking at $300+ K compensation, with a title of director if possible.

One way again is go back to consulting in the latest trends and land a leadership role in corporate.

I'm not in IT, but I do have perspective as an individual contributor/influencer and someone who started a new role at a new company at 51.

First it isn't clear to me - what is your primary underlying motivation for a major career change at this time? Better compensation? Better recognition of your value? Or is it fear of missing out? (Your mention of the director who made the jump to your current company and the comment about mid-life crisis makes me think this is a possibility). FWIW, just getting inflation adjustments is pretty typical at your stage in your career.

I can't comment on the likelihood of success in finding the director role and compensation for which you are looking, but I do think it is unrealistic to assume that you could get it and continue to avoid office politics! You would also be giving up on the automatic respect that you have built up over your tenure at your current company. You can rebuild it, but don't expect it to transfer with you or be automatic because you have now a high faluting title. :wink:

My decision to jump ship was precipitated by a site closure and the relocation of my job to another site 200 miles away. I absolutely think I made the correct decision, but I have to say that I didn't realize how good I had it at company A until I moved to company B. Rebuilding the credibility I had had was frankly frustrating as I had to fight to prevent my work from being "dumbed down" to be more palatable for our internal business partners. At company A, other teams had sought my expertise and I mentored numerous colleagues in my division. I had a much larger sphere of influence than I could ever hope for as an individual contributor at company B.

From a practical standpoint, I'm not sure I would be complaisant about having your job as long as you want it and would probably focus on making sure you were FI as quickly as possible. In addition, organizations are tending to flatten their hierarchies, so getting a director title could be putting a target on your back.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by JD2775 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:04 am

Not sure this is relevant or not....

I work in Data Warehouse for a large MegaCorp. I am 44 years old and I found that anyone we bring onto the team is generally younger than I am, with the exception of contractors. From what I have seen there has been no "age bias" with contractors. I may end up going that route someday if this job ever falls through for some reason.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by rich126 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:34 am

This is probably a bit off topic but I'm in my mid 50s. I've pretty much always have been hands on technical. Programming, hardware, computer security stuff mostly. I was an "acting" manager for about a year but refused to take the official position (at the government) due to the government's horrible employee evaluation system at that agency. Literally some employees would write close to 20 pages documenting their work.

I recently left the government and now work for a defense company but I will admit it was a mistake coming to this company. I wasn't happy at the government job but at least I had more leave and training options. I took the new job because I thought I wanted to live at their location but now I'm counting down the days before I can start looking next spring/summer. I have a 1 yr obligation here and while it isn't stressful it is horribly boring.

And the most annoying part is while I have a government clearance this place doesn't seem interested in using it and I want to find a new job before it expires since it is usually a huge plus in the field I'm in.

Good luck in your search. When I was younger some reason things just happened and I didn't spend any time planning or worrying about stuff. Now that I'm older, I feel like I can't find the right situation where I'm compensated well, doing good challenging work with quality and fair management in a location I'm interested in. I guess getting older doesn't mean things get easier, I'm just fortunate that I haven't had to deal with age issues and employment, at least not yet.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:59 am

jharkin wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:16 am
To be honest, if you have never even managed 1 person in your career at age 50... what makes you think you can make the jump to management track now and make director/vp in a couple years?
Appreciate the feedback

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:02 pm

JD2775 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:04 am
I am 44 years old and I found that anyone we bring onto the team is generally younger than I am,
Yes absolutely relevant.....thanks

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by rj342 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:08 pm

If you are at a company outside of the big tech hubs that treats higher level technical track ICs really well, count your blessings.
Too many places the middle managers over Engineering (who moved up from hands on tech jobs themselves) successfully resist opening up a higher end career track for the higher end techies doing the hardest or most innovative work -- who in sane orgs would have a staff engineer, or maybe principal engineer or architect title in their future.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:55 pm

rj342 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:08 pm
If you are at a company outside of the big tech hubs that treats higher level technical track ICs really well, count your blessings.
Too many places the middle managers over Engineering (who moved up from hands on tech jobs themselves) successfully resist opening up a higher end career track for the higher end techies doing the hardest or most innovative work -- who in sane orgs would have a staff engineer, or maybe principal engineer or architect title in their future.
Thanks for the note... agreed.

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by cashboy » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:24 pm

i worked in IT for 40+ years until my job was eliminated a couple of years after my old company was bought out by a bigger one. i had numerous roles.

i say the following, with the deepest respect and best wishes for you, based on my experience in multiple companies:

i think what you are hoping for is not likely to happen. i have never seen that (coming in or going out). consider that there are multiple people looking for that type of position - and most are already doing it. so, not currently doing it puts you at a disadvantage - why should anyone take a chance on you (to some degree) if they can pick from experienced people. whether we like to admit it or not, we are all typecast based on our current roles - maybe more so in IT.

my suggestion, and what i have seen work, is to try to take that step in your company. And, no harm in continuing to look elsewhere for the position you want; you might get lucky.

good luck!

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by fortunefavored » Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:37 pm

I went through a similar thought process ~5 years ago and decided to stick it out and maximize pay at the current job - I am now in OMY mode.

After exploring my options, I realized the only way I would significantly change my situation was to go to a smaller company and take a massive paycut (75-90%) Most of my current value was tied to institutional and organizational knowledge. That has zero value outside the 4 walls you're in now. It would basically be re-climbing the ladder in a different role/company and all the long hours, rebuilding of reputation/respect, etc that go along with it.

Interestingly, if I was laid off, this is probably the same situation I'd have been in - so it is probably indeed worthwhile to understand your true market value and be prepared, even if you stay.

Best wishes

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:57 pm

fortunefavored wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:37 pm
I went through a similar thought process ~5 years ago and decided to stick it out and maximize pay at the current job - I am now in OMY mode.

After exploring my options, I realized the only way I would significantly change my situation was to go to a smaller company and take a massive paycut (75-90%) Most of my current value was tied to institutional and organizational knowledge. That has zero value outside the 4 walls you're in now. It would basically be re-climbing the ladder in a different role/company and all the long hours, rebuilding of reputation/respect, etc that go along with it.

Interestingly, if I was laid off, this is probably the same situation I'd have been in - so it is probably indeed worthwhile to understand your true market value and be prepared, even if you stay.

Best wishes
Sure great thoughts...

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Re: Career Discussion / Options - Information Technology @ age 50

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:00 pm

cashboy wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:24 pm
i worked in IT for 40+ years until my job was eliminated a couple of years after my old company was bought out by a bigger one. i had numerous roles.

i say the following, with the deepest respect and best wishes for you, based on my experience in multiple companies:

i think what you are hoping for is not likely to happen. i have never seen that (coming in or going out). consider that there are multiple people looking for that type of position - and most are already doing it. so, not currently doing it puts you at a disadvantage - why should anyone take a chance on you (to some degree) if they can pick from experienced people. whether we like to admit it or not, we are all typecast based on our current roles - maybe more so in IT.

my suggestion, and what i have seen work, is to try to take that step in your company. And, no harm in continuing to look elsewhere for the position you want; you might get lucky.

good luck!

:sharebeer
Thanks a lot, you are be right. Just I am going to keep looking as you said, to see what is in store....

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