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IT pros promoted despite reduced hours

March 3, 1999
Web posted at: 5:16 p.m. EST (2216 GMT)

by Barb Cole-Gomolski

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(IDG) -- Contrary to popular belief, reducing your working hours doesn't derail your career in information technology.

Desperate to keep scarce talent, IT departments are letting staffers win promotions -- up to a certain level -- while working 25 to 40 hours per week.

That follows a general employment trend. A recent study from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and McGill University in Montreal showed that 30 out of 87 corporate professionals studied during two years were promoted while working reduced hours.

"You can move ahead while working less than full-time, but you can only get so far [in the organization]," said Dawn Lepore, CIO at Charles Schwab & Co. in San Francisco. Lepore said several of her staff are working reduced schedules, and some have risen to just below the vice president level.

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Lepore said allowing flexible work schedules will become more common in IT because it's key to retaining employees.

Sue Hanley, senior principal at the IT consultancy American Management Systems Inc. in Fairfax, Va., said her ability to work a reduced schedule during the past 11 years "and not worry about whether my career would fall apart [is] the reason I work here."

That may be because "IT organizations don't really need face time, they need output," said Janet Smith, president of Ivy Planning Group Inc., a Potomac, Md., consultancy that specializes in diversity training. "Companies are more interested in whether projects are getting done than how much time you spend at the office," she said.

Of course, not every IT professional can cut back the hours and rise through the ranks. In the Purdue/McGill study, reduced hours usually worked for employees who had a supportive boss and who were highly skilled, organized and efficient.

"It's difficult to manage a part-time schedule," said Lepore, who worked a reduced schedule for part of last year after the birth of her child. "You have to work harder at maintaining your priorities."

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Purdue University
McGill University
American Management Systems, Inc.
Charles Schwab & Co.

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