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I joined my company about two years ago and the company grew rapidly in size from a very young tech organization of about 100 employees to IPO, especially thanks to my department and - according to the official reviews - many of my own contributions.

I joined as a junior after college and grew to manager. Since the company profits have grown exponentially, they have slowly started hiring much more experienced and qualified new staff to help (and potentially replace? Happened a few times already!!) all graduate-aged "seniors" like myself.

My concern is that my specific job area is quite knowledge-based (IT and business integration) and all newcomers have Masters and PhDs from very prestigious universities! I am a bit clueless as to how I can get on par with all of them without returning to higher education. My undergraduate degree is in the humanities and I learned all my IT skills on the job. I am aware that IT is much much larger than what you actually learn on the job.

I hope you see why I am worried - I would like to continue on my successful path in this company, so what can I do to self-train and avoid being ousted by all these super-qualified newcomers?

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As you said, you are already a manager, and a manager has a totally different skill set. Now that you handle more people, you should undergo managerial training and get certificates. I know that you are overpowered by your subordinates in terms of technical skills, but they are not in the managerial position. You are. You handle them.

This is very true not only in your company, but in other companies in all countries as well. I think this is an inevitable phenomena, unless the managers also want to be too skilled technically. In my own opinion, managing is difficult to do while doing the technical stuff. Those two things are just hard to fit all in mind, unless you are indeed bright.

Regarding your other question:

"will managerial skills alone stay in demand, without a complement of technical skills?"

Of course! Managing is a whole different thing. However, with the growing population of professionals, you might want to have the technical skills to have an edge over the others.

What you can do:

  1. Attend training and seminars about management (for example, project management).
  2. Know what you lack in terms of technical stuff. Once identified, evaluate if you can learn them while studying management.
  3. Know your career path. Do you want to pursue being a technical professional, or being a manager?
  4. You can take up master's degree and doctoral degree while working, if you want to have your reputation raised.

Don't be afraid of being ousted by others. You have already proven your worth in the company, keep that in mind. However, of course, don't be left behind. Keep abreast of the latest trends and information in the world of IT. You are already a senior member of the organization. You own a part of the company.

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  • Hmm... last time my manager tried to handle me HR had to give him a course on sexual harassment. – Code Whisperer Feb 18 '14 at 19:54
  • Haha! Well, that's a different kind of handling. – Lester Nubla Feb 19 '14 at 0:46
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I would say that, first of all, it is important to stay technically on top of your field, even in addition to being a good people manager.

You ask, ""will managerial skills alone stay in demand, without a complement of technical skills?"

This question assumes that you have any managerial skills. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to insult you, but I think that's a very dangerous assumption to make - because if you're wrong, and as a result, you neglect your technical abilities, you may find yourself out of a job. Assuming you're not a good manager will let you determine what you need to do next to improve.

I often see managers in the technical field who have no managerial skills or technical skills. As is often the case, they are strong coders that get promoted to lead groups of coders. Of course, they never had any leadership skill, it was all coding skills. And since now they are no longer responsible for day-to-day coding, they get sloppy.

So, for starters, my advice would be to please assume both your management skills AND your technical skills need constant improvement.

In regards to staying on top of your field

  • Do side projects in your spare time that use that language
  • Ask your team members about things you don't understand. In addition to learning, they will respect you more. (No one likes someone who acts like they know everything.)
  • Stay up-to-date with the field. For example, as a JavaScript programmer, I watch Youtube videos from the JSConf channel where people talk about new developments. I am sure that Python, C# and other concentrations have equivalent Youtube channels too
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