James Alford, Director of IT, Montgomery County Data Processing
1. What was your first job?
My first job (besides a Journal Herald & Dayton Daily newspaper boy) was in
the United States Army. My Military Occupational Specialty code was 13
Echo. As a Computer Cannon Fire Direction Specialist in Field Artillery I
learned so many things about building teams, respecting others and to stay
calm under pressure. I entered the Army at the age of 17 and that is when I
got my first “Taste of IT”.
2. What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill?
There is a high demand for mobile developers, software and .NET
developers. I believe the demand is so high because it is constantly
changing. Also Cyber Security talent is in demand and the realization is now
apparent that there is definitely a need for it. It would great to have that
certification in house however, it is difficult to hold on to that type of talent
within the organization.
3. What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Don’t ever be ashamed about saying you don’t know or ask someone to
explain what you don’t understand. Remember you cannot always do
everything by yourself and learn to allow others to be part of the team.
Sometimes you may fall but don’t stay down, learn to get back up and try
4. What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders?
I have learned that the highest factor in being a great leader in any area is
the face‐to‐face communication and building trust. Your communication
must be prompt, direct, and respectful. In Information Technology one must
remain “open” and receptive because technology is changing all the time.
New Leaders must be prepared to step out of their element or stretch their
wings and embrace. Leading means showing that you care about the
individual. Always check in to see how your team is doing or ask if they have
all the resources available to them. Make sure you thank them and make
sure you show sincerity when you tell them “thanks for coming in today.”
These little gestures will demonstrate that you don’t just think of them as
machines and make sure to keep spirits up especially when the workload is
heavy or morale is low.