Monday, 30th March 2009
Tim Buckley Owen
Chatham House rules and skillfully compiled guest lists embracing a wide range of industries, skills, experience and ages are the hallmarks of a series of Friday breakfasts being hosted by Sue Hill Recruitment (catch Sue Edgar's blog about the event at http://digbig.com/4ynms). ‘New’ information workers was the most recent topic – are they being recruited from the ranks of the ‘traditional’ information profession or infiltrating from outside?
Most – but not all – of the guests had come through the conventional library/information profession route, but still classed themselves as ‘new’ and saw the various skills they’d had to deploy as representing a continuum. Multitaskers all, they’d had to be researchers, presenters, team leaders, negotiators, above all project managers.
But most also echoed the recent Business Information Review finding (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e16627) that the value of fundamentals like discovery skills was being reappraised in this new era of regulation and compliance. Library educators may have ‘missed a beat’ a few years back when faith in IT solutions led to a downplaying of such skills, but now they’re back on the agenda and – certainly in the corporate sector – the stakes are much higher.
Accustomed already to bearing significant responsibility in areas such as copyright and licensing or vendor negotiations, information managers should be well placed to move into business critical areas like records management. Transferable skills are what we should be able to offer, but the benefit to sell to bosses would be management of risk.
The opportunity couldn’t be more timely. A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Managing Risk in Perilous Times (http://digbig.com/4ynjw), offers ten steps to address current risk management weaknesses in financial institutions; two of them at least should give information professionals food for thought.
No matter how sophisticated, risk management models are limited by the quality of the data feeding them, the EIU says. And it also warns against relying too heavily on data from external providers, such as credit ratings.
Senior executives must lead risk management but must also ensure that risk managers have appropriate stature within the organisation, the report advises. Small wonder, then, that the final message from Sue Hill’s fascinating breakfast discussion was: Bypass management lines to get yourself heard at the top if you have to – and don’t be scared of doing it.
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