Stories by Melissa Solomon

Feature: Trading places

At the start of each semester, Harvard Business School professor Rob Austin draws two circles on the blackboard. He labels one "business," and the other "IT." With his chalk, he directs his students' attention to the spot in the center where the two intersect.
"If you can live in that space, you will have a job forever," says Austin.

Best foot forward

Sneaker time: the number of hours employees are paid to run around looking for photos. That's the phrase Cole Haan's e-commerce managers coined after the Yarmouth, Maine-based shoe and apparel maker launched its Web site in December 1999.

Stress survival strategies

Sitting in front of a computer, tackling tight deadlines and working odd hours take their toll on IT professionals under normal circumstances. But lately, many workers have watched their company's financial health plummet, their colleagues get laid off, their perks get slashed and their stock options disappear. All the while, they're picking up the slack for their shrinking departments and worrying if they'll be the next to go.

Keeping the Momentum

How do you keep employees charged up about training so they'll put their new insights to use? Here are some tips.

The old carrot-and-stick approach needs monitoring

In his off-Broadway show, 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com, Mike Daisey recalls his bizarre days as a call centre representative at the Seattle-based online retailer. When his manager pulled him aside to tell him that he wasn't taking enough calls, he struggled to find a solution. Eventually, it came to him. He'd hang up on customers in mid-sentence so he could quickly move on to the next caller.

Fighting for Middle Ground

Meet with vendors. Review assignments for the year. Submit service estimate to customer. Valorie Hartridge, director of marketing systems at Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc., proudly points out that she crossed that last item off her to-do list just the other day. "I like scratching things off," she says.

Middle managers: Developing the right skill sets

The question still remains: What skills do middle managers need and how can they get them?
Mike Keslar's roots are with the wholesale banking side of Mellon Financial Corp. "I didn't grow up on the technology side," he says. "I think my job is more of a challenge because I don't have that background." But the ability to interact with technicians, senior leaders and users and then translate messages so that they're meaningful to each group is what's most important in his job.

Project Portfolio Management

Project portfolio management organises a series of projects into a single portfolio consisting of reports that capture project objectives, costs, timelines, accomplishments, resources, risks and other critical factors. Executives can then regularly review entire portfolios, spread resources appropriately and adjust projects to produce the highest departmental returns.

Tough Times Deja Vu

Steve Ovadia's graduation day is one he'll never forget, but it didn't fall into the "best moments" category.

Layoff Lessons Learned

With the current wave of IT job cutbacks, those who have survived previous recessions have some valuable insights.

ROI: It's about people, not numbers

Since Tellabs put in new procedures for measuring return on IT investment a year ago, "it's all been perfect," says CIO Cathie Kozik. Then she laughs.

US ATTACK: IT community steps up to volunteer

First there was shock. Then panic. Then grief. Then action. As relief workers looked for survivors amid the rubble from Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the IT community came together by the thousands to help rebuild the New York businesses that literally crumbled to the ground.

Look who's gaining

For the past few years, traditional industry leaders have been trashed by little start-ups headed by lightning-quick wunderkinds. Corporations saddled down with bureaucracy can't keep pace with today's market, the freewheeling New Economy players snickered as their market valuations soared.

Service beats price in Web shopping: study

The Internet isn't necessarily the great price equaliser it was thought to be, according to a recent study.
While search tools on the Web make it easier for shoppers to compare prices, online costs fluctuate even more than they do in the bricks-and-mortar world, said Erik Brynjolfsson, associate professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and codirector of the Centre for eBusiness@MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Customers on the Web are still willing to pay more for high-quality service and innovation, he said at the eBusiness Conference and Expo in the US last week.

Tailoring Leadership Strategies

Sears, Roebuck & Co. CIO Jerry Miller, 53, is a 20-year IT veteran who has worked at the venerable retailer for the past six years, taking over as CIO a year and a half ago.