The poetry of departure

Market dynamics

In the novel From Russia with Love, author, Ian Fleming, describes the waiting platform for the Orient Express as throbbing with the “tragic poetry of departure”. Whether we are the ones boarding the train or the ones standing on the platform watching others depart, the act of departure often brings feelings of emptiness, loneliness and sadness.

Many of us in IT have probably experienced the tragic poetry of departure at least once during our careers. Those times when economic, organisational and political influences resulted in corporate consolidations, company closures and workforce reductions. We have not only watched our friends and colleagues depart, we were often the ones boarding the train. Unfortunately, with the current market crisis, it is likely that some of us will once again encounter that tragic poetry.

With most major markets hovering at their lowest levels in almost five years, fears of a global recession are increasing. Large corporations and small companies alike are announcing plans for layoffs, putting projects on hold and making preparations for significant budget cuts. The train is pulling into the station and the question for many is whether they will be boarding the train or watching others depart.

Yet, in the midst of the despair, we need to remind ourselves that we’ve been through this before and survived. Those of us who previously experienced departure often found ourselves arriving at new destinations with more opportunities to use our experience and skills. And those of us who remained behind often found additional doors opening as we assumed more duties and responsibilities.

If we find ourselves boarding the train this time, we need to remember that we carry in our luggage the skills, talents and experience to not only survive, but possibly even thrive. Whether it was the dot-com crash of 2000, the impact of September 11 or the economic crisis of today, the message in trade magazines, analyst reports and government projections is the same – some jobs remain “hot” as there are certain skills that will always be in demand.

A review of the employment reports throughout the years show that the demand for IT skills such as network engineering, software development, information security and database administration remains constant. No matter what state the economy is in, businesses need these skills to (1) connect with their systems, their suppliers and their customers, (2) develop and enhance revenue-generating products and services, (3) protect company assets and ensure regulatory compliance, and (4) manage enterprise data for financial analysis, sales campaigns and customer service.

Business is an adaptable entity that can morph as needed to meet market demands. Even with the current market volatility, the “business of business” will continue and as business continues, so will job opportunities continue for those of us in IT.

Our journey may not be as smooth as desired. But if we position ourselves appropriately and take advantage of opportunities to show our talents, the tragic poetry of departure can turn into the joyful prose of arrival.

Chuck Yoke is a business engineer for a Denver corporate network.