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Build Your Career at the Intersection of IT and Business

January 2022

Long gone are the days of siloed positions with well-defined responsibilities. Today, emerging technologies and IT issues require leaders to both deepen their understanding of IT and broaden their business skills. Consider, for example, today’s cybersecurity landscape. Nearly 80% of senior IT leaders believe their organizations lack sufficient protection against cyberattacks despite increased IT security investments made in 2020, according to an IDG survey.

Deploying endpoint security solutions can help stave off cyberattacks but the reality is IT leaders must also be skilled in raising employee awareness around cybersecurity issues, setting stringent usage policies, and driving adoption of new tools—expertise that requires strategic thinking and business acumen.

Similarly, as data permeates every aspect of a business, from hiring practices to inventory management, business leaders must become more confident data-driven decision-makers by expanding their understanding of analytics and enhancing their ability to clearly communicate data concepts. 

Infographic showing 80% of senior IT leaders who feel inadequately prepared for cyber attacks despite investments in 2020

“Nowadays, companies not only expect leaders to be strong in innovation and to recognize cybersecurity needs but to understand the business implications of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning,” says Dr. Parviz Ghandforoush, Executive Director of Virginia Tech’s online Master of Information Technology Program and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs for the Pamplin College of Business. “As a result, many leaders are returning to school to earn a degree that allows them to better understand the intersection between technology and leadership.”

Fortunately, there is a way for professionals to successfully strike a balance between technical skills and business acumen: Virginia Tech’s online Master of Information Technology (VT-MIT) degree program. This innovative, fully online program provides working professionals with the interdisciplinary knowledge needed to transition into new leadership positions. Here’s how.

THE POWER OF INTERDISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE

According to IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO report, 96% of CIOs say that their role is expanding to include new responsibilities, including data analytics, customer experience, finance, sales, and supply chain, among others.

At the same time, IT and business leaders are increasingly confronting new and different cybersecurity risks, the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) on the business, and the importance of data privacy—issues that demand an understanding of both IT and the business.

It’s clear that digital transformation is not only redefining business processes and corporate cultures, but also changing the roles and responsibilities of both technology and line of business (LOB) employees. 

The good news is Virginia Tech’s online VT-MIT degree is designed to provide both types of professionals the interdisciplinary knowledge they need to succeed in a rapidly evolving world.

A perfect example is the VT-MIT program’s Strategic Leadership in Technology-Based Organizations, a course that focuses on the role of the leader in crafting corporate and business strategies where technology provides the basis for a company’s competitive advantage.

“The course examines the technical side of business, but it also looks at how innovative ideas from leaders can help companies stay ahead of the game,” says Ghandforoush.

Another example of a blended approach to education is Virginia Tech’s Technology-Based Entrepreneurship course, which teaches professionals how to examine the design and validation of digital business models while also assessing the entrepreneurial opportunities in cybersecurity, automation, AI, and machine learning.

After all, says Ghandforoush, “To remain competitive, many companies must be entrepreneurial in their new initiatives, which can translate into new business opportunities.”

STUDENTS MAY CUSTOMIZE COURSE LOAD TO ACCOMMODATE BUSY PERIODS IN THEIR PROFESSIONAL OR PERSONAL LIVES. BECAUSE THE PROGRAM IS 100% ONLINE AND ASYNCHRONOUS, STUDENTS CAN LEARN FROM ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.


LEARN ON YOUR OWN TERMS

Because every individual has a different educational background, job role, and career goals, Virginia Tech’s VT-MIT degree is entirely customizable. Students design their own degree by choosing both the foundation courses and elective courses that best meet the needs of their career. Elective courses are grouped into 12 career-focused specialization areas, making it easy for professionals to pick and choose pathways that will lead to greater success. For example, a professional may choose to specialize in AI/ML by acquiring skills in unifying data processing with machine learning frameworks while still learning the basic principles and techniques for big data analytics.

Such flexibility extends beyond the curriculum to student lifestyle. For instance, students may customize their course load to accommodate busy periods in their professional or personal lives for a tailored timeline. And because the program is 100% online and asynchronous, students can learn from anywhere, anytime. Tuition is residency-neutral which means everyone can access high-value public university tuition rates no matter where they live. Plus, those who may relocate for work, like members of the military, never have to worry about changing costs or being unable to complete their degree.

A SOLUTION FOR CAREER ADVANCEMENT

It’s no wonder U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs report ranks Virginia Tech’s online VT-MIT degree the nation’s fourth best and No.1 for veterans.

Whether they are looking to enhance existing skills or prepare for a major career transition, VT-MIT students can expect to reap rewards including enhanced marketability and greater convenience. What’s more, with over 100,000 university alumni in the mid-Atlantic region alone, graduates can tap into an expansive network of professionals to achieve their career goals.

THE TIME IS NOW

More often than not, IT professionals and LOB leaders find themselves seated at the same table. But collaborating with executives from varying disciplines takes more than active listening skills. In today’s blended workplace, IT and business leaders alike must take advantage of programs such as Virginia Tech’s online VT-MIT degree to increase their interdisciplinary knowledge and boost their value in today’s competitive marketplace.