Jobs Of The Future
Let's face it. Not everyone wants to grow up to be a fireman anymore.
LOS ANGELES — Greetings, Webmaster ...
Who would have thought, even a few years ago, that the term "Webmaster" would enter the mainstream?
But it's here, and it's just the vanguard of new job titles spinning through the workplace. They reflect changes in technology, borderless business, and new ways firms treat and keep employees.
There's still plenty of room for traditional job definitions - we'll always need accountants and sales reps - but the marketplace demands something new.
Regional managers may become the global manager, and most large companies will likely have a chief knowledge officer and a director of business ethics.
Other jobs, you've probably never heard of. Neither had we until we got our hands on some very unusual business cards.
What's your job of the future?
Help wanted: Someone who can extract the best ideas from workers, cull their top skills and habits, and maintain that information in an electronic filing cabinet for everyone in the company to access.
Care to guess the job title?
Try knowledge manager.
"Knowledge manager". And it's just one of a slew of new positions coming to a workplace near you.
Rapid changes in technology, globalization, and the changing way people work are churning out a host of new jobs, many with titles that sound straight out of Star Trek.
Try "virtual reality evangelist" or "director of global content."
How about "information navigator", "cybrarian", "data mining director", and "alumni relations director".
Believe it or not, they all exist in companies today, granted only in small numbers, but that's about to change.
"The big question is where are things changing in the workplace?" asks John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm in Chicago.
New high-tech titles
The blistering pace of technology changes get most of the credit for reshaping the world of work: computers, voice mail, e-mail, the Internet, and now the Intranet (a company's internal Web system).
These advances have put such positions as network administrator, network architect, and help-desk technician on virtually every payroll.
But even more new jobs have taken shape on the horizon. Among them: director of security, encryption expert, Intranet manager, and Internet sales manager.
Another increasingly popular job title - information navigator, someone who manages the massive data companies store on computers, making sure it's available to people who need it.
"As the workplace becomes more paperless, this person will keep track of what electronic files are available on what topics," says Lynn Taylor, director of research at Robert Half International, a staffing services firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. "They'll be a resource person, like the information center at an airport."
Business world rulers
Then there's globalization. The borderless business.
"We are seeing the advent of true global corporations," says Mr. Challenger, "and that will create a series of jobs that require people to manage, 24 hours a day, workers all over the world." No doubt, he says, we will soon witness the emergence of the true global manager.
At the same time, globalization will demand that corporations integrate cultures and create unity among diversity.
Leave know-how behind
And what about all that untapped knowledge?
Increasingly, businesses recognize that they must harness the know-how of their workers to remain competitive. And they need to have people who know how to tap into it. What does the accountant, for example, know about the Internet that may benefit the marketing department?
And as job hopping becomes mainstream, companies want to capture employee knowledge before it heads out the door.
Enter workers like Bob O'Malley, knowledge manager for accounting firm Ernst & Young.
He works with the company's 20-plus teams nationwide who are working to solve the year 2000 computer crisis (see Y2K, page 14).
Mr. O'Malley gathers the best solutions and practices from each team and maintains a database where anyone can access it.
"We want people to be able to interact and communicate and collaborate and share information no matter where they are," says Dick Loehr, a director of Ernst & Young's Center for Business Knowledge in Cleveland. "We don't want to reinvent the wheel all the time."
Downsized but not out
Downsizing and outsourcing, consultants say, will continue into the next century. And while a "director of downsizing" seems unlikely a chief of cost cutting, outsourcing, or people purchasing isn't.
And with job hopping now a fixture of the workplace, many companies will hire a director of career development, says Marilyn Moats Kennedy of Career Strategies in Wilmette, Ill.
Their job: help workers advance within a company and also help those who want to land positions elsewhere.
Changing commutes will also roll out new positions, many of them already in the workplace. How about director of mobile officing or virtual officing? Or telecommuting evangelist?
In a workplace prone to litigation, expect to see managers of business ethics and dispute mediation.
New morale boosters
Companies will also increase their emphasis on employees' emotional well being. "The most progressive companies will be building employees spiritually, emotionally, and physically," says Gerald Celente, director of Trends Research Institute in New York state.
"Companies might have a minister of moral propaganda to keep the spirits high and productivity growing," Mr. Celente says.
Other futurists envision stress busters and managers of productivity and health. Some companies already have a director of employee recognition.
And with employees increasingly isolated from each other, thanks to computers and work-at-home plans, companies may tap directors of team building and socialization.
"It's important," Challenger says, "for companies to create a culture and a spirit within the organization that is whole and not fragmented."
THE TREND IS HER FRIEND
NAME: Clar Evans
COMPANY: Hallmark Cards
TITLE: Director, Creative Advisory Group
Is there an angel in your future?
Is "groovy" making a comeback?
If so, Clar Evans needs to know about it.
She's the top trend spotter at Hallmark Cards Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., and it's her job to know what's going to be popular before it arrives. That way, Hallmark can put it on a card before the competition does.
Angels, for example, came to her early on, and out fluttered flocks of cards full of angels.
Ms. Evans heads the Creative Advisory Group at Hallmark and is one of two trends researchers, a job she's held for six years.
"It seems a little whiffy," Evans laughs, but companies need every edge they can get. "You can't rely on the old systems [of research] because they move too slowly," she says.
Her job description? She regularly scans some 80 publications, attends conferences - from high-tech shows to design fairs - and travels frequently, snapping photos of what people wear and eat and do for fun.
Her intuitive muscle has paid off, spotting trends that led to new products worth millions to Hallmark.
Among them: a new line of cards that celebrates ethnic sentiments, such as native American prayers and South African blessings. Her group just finished a study on contemporary Christian beliefs.
LOVING THE LEAVING
NAME: Cindy Lewiton Jackson
TITLE: Manager of career development and alumni relations
COMPANY: Bain & Co
Cindy Lewiton Jackson's job at Bain & Co. is to make employees feel great about leaving.
OK, not exactly, but close.
Ms. Jackson's job is not only to help Bain employees who want to leave find new jobs, but to welcome them into the management consulting company's alumni network.
With workers seeming to change jobs more frequently than their car tires, shunning those who leave no longer makes good business sense.
"Bain's feeling is that there will be natural turnover in any company," Jackson says. "Not everyone comes to consulting to be here forever."
Many Bain employees go on to work for clients, some become clients, some eventually rejoin the firm. Maintaining those relationships is key.
"It's like six degrees of separation," she says. "The network is very powerful."
Bain's database covers 2,000 alumni in North America, and Jackson tracks their job promotions and changes, even the arrival of their babies.
Bain's alumni receive a newsletter, attend alumni receptions, and get access to online resources that can help them hire other Bain alums for their new companies.
REAL JOB, UNREAL TECHNOLOGY
NAME: Linda Jacobson
COMPANY: Silicon Graphics
TITLE: Virtual Reality Evangelist
Linda Jacobson believes.
And her mission is to spread the word, to sing the praises, to raise the profile about a concept, a product, that comes close to the metaphysical.
She pounds the pavement for virtual reality, a technology whose goal is to make something that is unreal seem so real that you can reach out and touch it.
And for the past three years, she's been reaching out to businesses and educators to talk about it.
Her company makes a product called Onyx 2, a giant computer work station that comes with a 160-degree, wrap-around screen that makes you feel like you're there even when you're not.
And her job is to make skeptics into true believers, a reality to people who might not take it seriously.
"Many people think virtual reality is some kind of video game you wear on your head. It's not," Ms. Jacobson says. It's a real business tool."
It's the next generation of how people interact with computers. Rather than use a mouse or a keyboard, we will use our senses - touch, movement, sight, sound.
Carmakers use virtual reality to build cars; oil companies use it to help drill for oil. Eventually, architects will use it to walk clients through a building that they have yet to construct.
"It will be used as the 21st-century classroom and conference room," Jacobson says.
Silicon Valley has a time-honored practice of bestowing the title "evangelist" on anyone charged with promoting new technology.
In 1995, Silicon Graphics hired Jacobson (a former technology journalist and a founder of Wired magazine) to fill its newly created position.
Today, she says, she is the first and virtually only person in Silicon Valley with the title: virtual reality evangelist.