Written and read by Henrik de Gyor
Based on the blog post from Another DAM blog:
Written and read by Henrik de Gyor
Here are the questions asked:
Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management (DAM). I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Ulla de
Stricker. Ulla, how are you?
Ulla de Stricker: [0:11] Fine. Thank you very much.
Henrik: [0:13] Ulla, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Ulla: [0:16] As a consultant I’m involved in everything my clients care about
when it comes to information and knowledge management broadly defined.
Information objects of all kinds, including DAMs of course, are an element in any
organization strategy for support to knowledge workers, and I strive to point my
clients to the options available and to advise them about the ramifications of
Henrik: [0:40] You recently coauthored a book titled “The Information and
Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” along with coauthor Jill Hurst-
Wahl, which I interviewed in the past. I believe Digital Asset Management could
be categorized under the umbrella of information management. What inspired
you to write this book?
Ulla: [0:58] Jill and I are what you might call “natural mentors.” We’ve always
ended up in situations where we discuss career matters with our colleagues and
our students in particular. So without being able to pinpoint the exact moment,
we did get to a point where we arrived at this collective insight, “Why don’t we
just write it all down?” So we set about distilling our answers to the many questions
we’ve heard over the years. [1:26] Our intention was to capture general
advice in one place so that potentially our individual conversations with readers
could be more personal and focused. But primarily, however, we wanted to give
our colleagues and particularly new entrants to the profession a heads up about
all the things you need to think about in your career but never had a chance to
focus on in graduate school.
[1:53] Speaking for myself, I certainly discovered that technical skills are only one
part of the tool kit we need. I learned the hard way about organizational politics,
about being the boss, about interpersonal dynamics, and so on and so on. So
you might say the book actually addresses practitioners in a lot of professions.
We felt comfortable though speaking to colleagues in those fields where we
have personally built our reputations.
[2:21] We’d love to see the book become a graduation gift and a bible for
younger colleagues. That way our suggestions can travel a lot further afield than
through personal interactions in meetings and workshops.
Henrik: [2:35] Excellent. So what is so different about careers in the field of
information management professionals than any other?
Ulla: [2:45] I’m so glad you asked it. First, I want to stress how exciting it is to
see all the many new opportunities out there for graduates of iSchools. I think
we’re still only scratching the surface, and there’s a lot of outreach still to do to
orient managers about how the skills of iSchool graduates apply across a vast
spectrum of organizational functions. [3:08] But I always encourage those looking
for a career to check out the information profession. You and I, Henrik, know
it isn’t true, contrary to widespread opinion, that the Internet has reduced the
need for professionals who know their way around information management.
That said, I need to be honest about what I call the opacity of our profession.
[3:31] You can’t imagine the number of times I’ve heard my colleagues comment
on the surprising amount of explaining they found themselves having to do.
Sometimes we commiserate among ourselves that perhaps we ought to have
considered pharmacy or some other field where clients understand immediately
what we do without any further explanation.
[3:51] As an illustration, nobody with a sick pet is in any doubt about the need
for or value of a veterinarian, and no one with a leaky roof questions the need
for and value of a roofer. Yes, police officers, transport truck drivers, the road
repair crews, etc, etc, do not have to explain why they should exist. But we information
[4:19] A major factor is the conundrum I’ll never solve that we deal largely in
intangibles. We can’t prove that we are adding dollars to the bottom line or that
we’re saving lives. So our costs could look like reasonable candidates for cuts
when managers are under pressure to slash their budgets. We can convince
those managers it’s prudent to equip knowledge workers with authoritative information,
and it’s prudent to safeguard corporate memory and so on.
[4:50] But we cannot get away from the fact that information services are, by
their nature, labor intensive and expensive. Before the first customer can find an
answer to a question or find an information object, there’s content to pay for,
staff to pay for, IT infrastructure to put in place, and so on. It’s understandable
to me when a senior executive asks bluntly, “What am I getting for that six or
seven-figure line item called the Corporate Information Center?”
[5:21] I’m sure your DAM colleagues recognize the challenge. The bottom line for
this nurse is that in our professions practitioners must always be ready to justify
their worth. It’s for that reason that one of the chapters in the book deals with
crafting business cases.
Henrik: [5:39] So, is this book just for beginners entering this career path?
Ulla: [5:43] Certainly, Jill and I did intend the book for graduate students and
recent graduates, but we speak equally to mid-career professionals who may be
asking themselves, “What’s next?” We advocate an attitude of personal control.
Oh, yes. It’s true. A new graduate may take that first job because the bills have
to be paid. But throughout our working lives every one of us are making choices
and plans for the future. [6:10] So that’s why we emphasize in one chapter the
need for every single professional to ascertain what’s a group cultural fit and
then to orchestrate choices and activities toward that fit. By “fit,” I mean that,
as one example, some of us are naturally happy in environments where others
might not be so happy. Just consider the difference between hospitals, law
firms, schools, nonprofits, and private sector companies in terms of how it feels
to work there.
[6:40] As another example. We’re all unique in terms of the degree of structure
and control we like to have at work, the pace we’re comfortable with, whether
we like to deal with people, or whether we prefer to work independently, and
so on. So, other chapters deal with universal topics, such as developing a
professional brand, getting paid what we’re worth, coping with stress, mentoring
others. So indeed the book is meant for our colleagues at any stage of
Henrik: [7:12] What advice would you like to share with DAM professional and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ulla: [7:17] Let me stress again the positive news that in the future, information
professionals including the DAMs will be evermore necessary to managing the
explosions of digital content. The opportunities keep growing, and I’ll just throw
in here, that in the last couple of weeks alone a major consulting firm in Toronto
announced several new knowledge management decisions. [7:43] One little
challenge does exist. It’s that in the past, we may not have focused sufficiently
on marketing our skills, so we do have some competition from IT professionals
as an example. So my advice focuses on marketing. My advice is that a successful
career depends on developing a solid conviction about our own value and
on perfecting the delivery of the explanation of it.
[8:09] I say become a walking business case. Get good at linking your activity
to corporate outcomes. Estimate, for example, how much time you save other
employees through your work, and then calculate the value to the organization
from freeing up that time. Never mind about risk reduction and other intangible
benefits. Speak about how you contribute to the overall performance of the
organization you work for and use the language stakeholders understand.
[8:39] In other words become a career long advocate for good information practices.
Does that make sense, Henrik?
Henrik: [8:46] Definitely. Well, thanks Ulla. Thanks to also your publisher,
Chandos, who is giving us a complimentary copy. For the first time on this
podcast series we’re able to give away a copy of the book. The book is again
“The Information and Knowledge Professionals Career Handbook” by Jill Hurst-
Wahl and Ulla de Stricker. [9:08] The contest between the date of the release of
this podcast through the month of August 2011, if you subscribed to Another
DAM Blog, that’s AnotherDAMblog.com and AnotherDAMpodcast.com, you
will be entered in the contest immediately. If you are drawn at the end of the
month, the winner from that will get a free copy of the new book. Thank you so
Ulla: [9:36] Well, thank you. It is indeed generous of the publisher to work with
us in this way, and I can’t wait to virtually shake the hand of the winner.
Henrik: [9:45] If you would like more information about Digital Asset
Management, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is
available on Audioboo,
Blubrry, iTunes, and the Tech Podcast Network.
Announcing the first book drawing for this podcast series…
The one winner of this drawing will receive one free copy of “The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” co-authored by Jill Hurst-Wahl and Ulla de Stricker. To enter the book drawing, simply subscribe to both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog by email on each of these websites between August 4, 2011 and August 31, 2011. The winner will be picked from the pool of email subscribers of both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog together. The drawing will occur on the first week of September 2011 with a third party drawing the name of the winner. The winner will be announced on Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog. If you are already an email subscribers to both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog, you are automatically entered in this book drawing. The winner will be contacted directly by email for their contact details to ship the book. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Good luck to all.