24 May 2023

Decoding emotional intelligence: the key to a successful IT career

By Trivium Communications
News contact
Sjourd Wijdeveld
Sjourd Wijdeveld
Chief Information Officer

Information Technology (IT) has come of age. IT is no longer a separate function dealing with basic operational and support tasks, but an integrated part of all aspects of every business. Managing technology is business critical and IT has a seat at the executive table in most companies. That makes IT an exciting career choice.

Embracing IT skills throughout a company

The evolution of IT also means that IT-literacy and basic technology skills are needed for jobs that have traditionally been far removed from information technology. Take Human Resources as an example. The use of data is now key to creating a seamless employee experience when it comes to on-boarding, training, talent development, off-boarding, and everything in between.

Communications is another example. Long gone are the days where an official memo on paper took pride of place. An effective channel landscape is primarily digital which requires solid platform knowledge and good use of data to enable effective content targeting and analytics.

In packaging manufacturing, everything from planning and quality assurance to printing and inventory control require a certain level of technology skills.

Going beyond functional IT knowledge

Just like most jobs are evolving to embrace a higher level of IT literacy, the career landscape for IT professionals has developed significantly. This has consequences for someone who wants to thrive and grow as an IT professional.


Robust functional knowledge whether that’s coding, cyber security, architecture, data management, infrastructure, etc is critical, but I would argue that functional knowledge is becoming a hygiene factor. Solid functional skills are expected and are well taught in educational institutions around the world. Simply put, you are expected to know your stuff.

When I interview candidates for IT positions, I spend very little time probing their functional skills. If the person in front of me will be able to execute effectively and add business value depends rather on their emotional intelligence and adaptability.

Building emotional intelligence

In many ways, the technology part of IT is the easy bit. It can certainly be complex, but it’s also rational, logical, and predictable. People on the other hand, are not. To make IT work and create business value, IT professionals need to be able to handle the unpredictability of people along with emotions, cultural differences, and politics.


Emotional intelligence is required to manage people and their expectations and sell the value of IT to internal stakeholders and decisionmakers. To succeed in IT you need to be able to listen, build relationships, and communicate with and influence decisionmakers. Strong functional knowledge is simply not enough.

Unfortunately, emotional intelligence is not something that is taught in most educational institutions. The good news is that emotional intelligence comes with age through lived experiences. There are, however, simple things you can do expedite the process and become a stronger candidate when stepping onto the IT career ladder.

  • Spend a year in another country as part of your studies.
  • Intern with companies of different sizes and in different industries.
  • Volunteer in your local community.
  • Coach a team.
  • Become a reverse-mentor.
  • Join a club outside your area of expertise or study.
  • Read literature or listen to podcasts from other cultures and topics.

Needless to say, this is not a checklist that merely needs to be completed. You need to be open to the experiences and perspectives these activities bring and take time to reflect about what you have learned and how you can use that in your work.

Building emotional intelligence is not about becoming a social butterfly or an extrovert, but rather about understanding emotional behaviours and building relationships. It will not just set you up for success professionally, but will also allow you to build resilience and reduce stress.

Staying adaptable and curious

The speed of change within IT has been staggering over the past couple of decades and shows no signs of slowing down. When I speak to people just starting out in their IT careers, I look for the ability to deal with change and a curiosity to learn and develop. Always evolving as a professional is key to sustained success as many if not most future IT careers cannot even be imagined today.


That may sound scary, but here is the good news: if you constantly learn, you build an ever-expanding bank of experience. That’s more powerful than just new knowledge by itself as you can put things into perspective and see the bigger picture. You get the benefit of time and can spot trends with ease.


IT has become business critical for all companies. That means the career prospects for budding IT professionals are broader and more diverse than ever. Manufacturing, for instance, offers opportunities for technology innovation and transformation in businesses that make the things we all rely on every day.

Regardless of industry, however, functional IT knowledge is not enough to build a sustainable career. Successful candidates will need a high level of emotional intelligence and maintain an always-learning mentality to keep up with the speed of change.

Image by katemangostar on Freepik.
Image by pch.vector on Freepik.
Image by Freepik.