He is making an effort to develop a compatible IT workforce in part by working with the University of Louisiana, which graduates 70 students annually with computer science master's degrees. He serves on a course curriculum committee at the university's Lafayette campus, which gives "feedback on gaps between what is being taught and what our business needs are," he says. He's also working with the school to develop an internship program.
Pacific Coast Companies provides business and IT services to a dozen subsidiaries that supply building products and related services. CIO Mike O'Dell needs workers with statistical and analytical skills as well as knowledge of economics "and the wisdom to understand causal relationships in the data," he says. "The types of projects we are working on are focused on making the people we have more effective, from the executive to the salesman to the shop floor."
The need for business skills, in fact, is driving O'Dell's staffing and recruitment strategy. He taps business people internally and teaches them technology. He also recruits local college students with technology skills and teaches them about the business.
"Understanding the business is the more complex side of the equation, so the best way to develop those skills is to expose technology-oriented people to the business and put them in the field and let them learn," O'Dell says.
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