Crystal McKee

Crystal McKee

Successful CIO


Many of the world’s most successful CIOs reached their positions through a range of career paths. On the surface, it can seem as like they may be dramatically different personalities. However, many of them share certain characteristics. And these traits are often a sign of great potential in aspiring, new, or current CIOs to develop into strong leaders.


To help you understand which traits can be an indication of exceptional leadership potential, here are some key characteristics many of the top CIOs have in common.


One of the most important traits strong leaders share is the ability to understand employees and their daily roles and struggles. Being able to relate to them personal level and empathize with their situations allows you to make decisions in a way that supports their needs as well as those of the business.


It also involves creating a culture where employees feel secure when they need to speak up and ask for support. By cultivating such an environment, workers are more likely to see themselves as being valued by management, which can be critical for morale and long-term retention.


A CIO can’t lead if people aren’t confident in their abilities. Part of ensuring workers feel secure in your decisions is being confident in your actions and abilities. Being able to assume a place of dominance without being overbearing, balancing strength with empathy, creates an ideal blend that employees are more inclined to follow.


As a leader, it’s not enough to be able to spot and correct flaws in others; you must be able to do the same with yourself. Everyone, including the most successful CIOs working today, makes mistakes. Being able to monitor and manage your own behavior is key to being a well-rounded leader in the workplace, and can support strong interpersonal relationships.


While being confident in one’s decisions is important, understanding when you need to be flexible and make adjustments is just as critical. Change is a constant part of any business, and being equipped to role with them as they arise makes you more agile on a daily basis. If you are also comfortable adapting when things don’t quite go as planned, you can make positive changes quickly, better positioning the company for success in both the short- and long-term.


We are all ingrained with the idea that being a strong leader requires being open to guidance from others. While this is true, it is just as important to be able to act independently when the need arises. Being stuck in a place where you can’t make a decision without input from others puts you at a disadvantage while also preventing you from making quick changes when the need arises.


Ultimately, no two CIOs are completely the same. However, many of them share these traits, helping to show how they can be used together for greater success. If you are interested in more information about the characteristics of strong leaders or are looking to hire additional personnel to help your business thrive, the recruitment professionals at The Armada Group have the expertise you need. Contact us and see how our experience can support your leadership goals today.




For an introvert, the idea of interviewing for a new position can be a bit anxiety inducing. Not only does an interview require a significant amount of interaction, but it is typically with people whom you have never met before. But there are strategies that can help even the most introverted individual feel more comfortable as they head in for an IT job interview. To help you make the most of your time, here are some tips for improving the experience.

Schedule Based on Your Preferences

When contacted for an interview, it isn’t uncommon to be given a list of available times from which to choose. This gives you a chance to select a time that allows you to be at your best, making it an opportunity to increase your level of comfort.


For example, if you are a morning person, then try and schedule your appointment during that window. If you feel more capable in the afternoon or evening, then try for a later time. The intention is to schedule the interview during a time where you already feel more energetic and function at your best. Then you aren’t combatting the feeling of being drained in conjunction with the interview itself.

Plan for Extra Me Time

Once your interview is scheduled, make sure and plan some extra time for yourself before and after the interview. If you can find a quiet space before the interview begins, you can take a moment to collect your thoughts or practice self-calming techniques. Then, once the interview is over, you also have some time available to regroup and recharge before heading back to your other tasks for the day.


The idea is to build in a buffer that will help you perform at your best and then give you a chance to re-center before any additional interactions. It can keep the process more comfortable and limits the chance of being overwhelmed at any point in your day.

Prepare to Ask Questions

One of the easiest ways to give yourself a mini-break during an interview is to get the interviewer talking. While you are listening to the interviewer, tune into can points that may help entice the interviewer to speak. Then, once you are given a chance to ask additional questions at the end of the interview, make sure you have a few stashed away for the occasion.

Practice Chit-Chat

Introverts typically aren’t fans of small talk. However, being able to manage introductions in a casual way can help build a rapport with the interviewer. Consider asking a friend to practice this process with you so you can become more comfortable with the process, allowing you take control over the initial few minutes and set the pace for the rest of the interview.


If you are looking for additional tips on making a great first impression during an interview or new opportunity in the IT field, the recruiters at The Armada Group can help you along the way. Contact us to see what is available in your area today.



Receiving public praise is often a key to greater job satisfaction. It demonstrates that your contributions have been noticed and the work is appreciated. However, not every IT position lends itself well to inherently getting noticed, and that can leave you feeling as though your efforts are being taken for granted.


But there are ways to increase your chances for recognition without coming across as self-centered and entirely self-serving. To get started, consider focusing on these areas first.

Keep Your Manager Up to Date

A manager rarely has the ability to stay on top of the contributions of every individual within a team at all times. While the progress of specific work groups may be monitored and end results examined, you should consider it your responsibility to ensure your manager has information about your work.


Consider implementing a weekly email progress report to keep your manager informed regarding the status of current projects, and feel free to forward any positive feedback you receive from key stakeholders or customers. Both of these serve as platforms to keep your boss up to date without coming across as a braggart. Just make sure that when accomplishments are based on team success, every person is appropriately mentioned in these messages.


These approaches give your manager points on which praise can be given, creating a clear opportunity for recognition.

Offer Recognition to Increase Recognition

Not every company has a culture that focuses on praise and recognition. However, you may have the ability to make changes in that regard. If a team member does something worth recognizing, feel free to give them a shout out. Team meetings and project reviews can be suitable times to acknowledge a team member’s contribution and may encourage other team members to do the same.


Similarly, you can inquire about adding a peer-to-peer recognition system within your organization. Again, this can help develop a culture where offering praise is part of the norm and not the exception.

Take the Initiative

Sometimes the easiest way to get what you need is to ask for it. Individuals often prefer different rewards for a job well done, and if your preferred method doesn’t match those around you, it may simply be an overlooked point in larger employee retention plans.


When more recognition its the goal, you can seek opportunities for more high-profile projects. Similarly, seek out chances to take on certain duties or projects on your own, or when certain tasks aren’t being well managed, publicly volunteer to take those tasks on; then solicit feedback to ensure your work is meeting everyone’s needs.


You may need to embrace self-promotion to a degree if you want to increase your visibility. Just make sure to remain professional as you do so.

Reevaluate Your Position

If your efforts to facilitate more recognition by invoking change in the company culture, or your request for additional feedback to support your career growth are met with blank stares and zero enthusiasm, it may be time to reevaluate your workplace. Not every company culture meets the needs of all individuals, and if recognition is a critical part of your overall job satisfaction, it may be time to find an environment that can meet that need.


Begin preparing your resume and start exploring what new employment opportunities may be available. If you aren’t sure where to begin, contact us to speak with one of our IT recruiters. The skilled professionals at The Armada Group have the experience necessary to help you find a work environment that better suits your needs, allowing you to receive the recognition you need to feel satisfied in your work.


big data specialists

Big Data has taken the world by storm and along the way, has increased the pressure on the technical specialists who focus on the area. The push to get results more quickly and to make the results more meaningful can leave many working in the field scrambling to keep up, and creates some major pain points for Big Data specialists to struggle against.

Not Seeing a Traditional Asset

While many businesses consider their data an asset, they don’t necessarily treat it as one. While a company may be able to tell you exactly how many packages of printer paper were ordered within a given time period, they can’t do the same with their less tangible assets.


The lack of tracking increases pressure on those working with the data, as they have to do more than use the data to produce results; they have to quantify it. Additionally, they often have to surmise how to value the content along the way, adding a duty many Big Data professionals aren’t sufficiently prepared to accomplish.

Improper Data Collection Strategies

Once a company has their hands on a data collection tool, it is tempting to use it to its fullest capacity. However, this can lead to mountains of unnecessary data. For example, if a business chooses to monitor the number of visitors actively viewing a particular product webpage and use an option that reports back once a minute, that is likely way more information than is necessary.


The number of data points being produced and stored likely exceeds the amount necessary to achieve useful metrics. Instead, it simply creates an excess of data that then needs to be managed.

Devaluing Their Skills

Often, it is hard to explain the different skill sets required for IT operations unless you actively work in the field. Additionally, cloud-based offerings for data analytics can leave many members of upper management to disregard the amount of skill it actually takes to provide meaningful results, especially within a large enterprise landscape.


Failing to recognize the need for a highly skilled individual or team to manage Big Data tasks can put unfair pressure on IT professionals who do not work within the Big Data landscape. Additionally, it leads some organizations to devalue the skills of true Big Data specialists. Typically, the quality of a company’s results are directly tied to the skill level of those performing the work, and not understanding the differences between IT skill sets can create pain points throughout the department.

Rushing Initiatives

All successful IT implementations require time and planning. Even if a business is able to secure a suitable analytics solution quickly, it takes time to ensure everything is properly managed to produce the desired results.


Similarly, if the use of Big Data is new to a company, they also need to acquire individuals with the necessary skills and experience to create value from the solution. Securing the tools is only the first step in Big Data analytics, and rushing through the early stages of implementation can lead to less favorable, if not entirely unusable, results.


If your business is looking for a skilled Big Data Specialist, The Armada Group has the industry expertise necessary to identify your next potential superstar employee. Contact us and let our experience in the IT job market guide you to the ideal candidates for your goals.


silicon valley


Whether you are pursuing your first step on a career path, or have decided to move away from your current career towards a different future, becoming a project manager can be a satisfying and lucrative career. But how lucrative varies based on certain criteria. Education and experience always come into play for job offers and salary negotiations, and your field of focus can also be a factor.


If you are wondering how much a project manager can make in Silicon Valley, here are some key points to consider.

Experience Level

Your level of experience is one of the largest determining factors regarding potential salary. In the Silicon Valley area, entry-level positions tend to be in the $60,000 area (without accounting for any potential bonus payments). Generally, that is considered a fairly strong starting salary, though the cost of living in the San Francisco can be relatively high.


However, the upper edge of the overall salary potential is well into six-figure territory, even without bonuses. And as demand for skilled project managers increases, and finding candidates in the IT field becomes more challenging, it is possible salary levels will increase in the years to come.


Now, it is possible to avoid a stop at the entry-level salary point if you have significant experience in the field in which you intend to work as a project manager. For example, an IT professional transitioning into project management in a tech field may see higher starting salaries than those who are relying solely on their education.


Often, successful project managers have a combination of experience. First, they likely have a degree in their chosen specialty area. For example, IT project managers may have a degree in computer science or information technology, while those interested in becoming a construction project manager may have a degree in engineering.


Additionally, most project managers complete coursework in the areas of business management or even project management specifically. Some of these options involve graduate-level education, including master’s degrees or professional certificates. For example, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can help those working in the field achieve higher salary levels than those who aren’t certified.

Salary and Compensation

As of late 2016, salary estimates for project managers in the Silicon Valley area ranged from $61,874 to $143,241. Additionally, financial compensation may also be available in the forms of bonuses and profit sharing, though this isn’t necessarily standard.


Working as a project manager can also provide access to a comprehensive benefits package if you work as a long-term employee for a business. This can include access to medical insurance and prescription drug coverage and may include dental and vision benefits. Additionally, retirement benefits may also be included.


However, some project managers work as independent contractors or are self-employed. In those cases, benefits are not provided by the companies with which you work. Instead, you will need to select your own solutions in those areas.


If you are interested in becoming a project manager in Silicon Valley, The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact our recruiters today to see what options may be available.



The gender imbalance in traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions is still alive in 2017. Even though there have been significant efforts in attracting women to STEM fields, the desired result has not been realized. And this leads to shortfalls in the workforce.


Women are participating in some STEM careers. For example, certain science and healthcare professions are dominated by women, but the gap in other fields is essentially as apparent as it ever was. In some cases, pipeline issues are being cited as the source, but there is more to this issue than simple interest.

Women, Leadership, and STEM

Women working in STEM fields express a similar level of interest in reaching leadership positions as men. However, women aren’t as likely to focus on leadership as a primary career goal.


A potential reason for the slow rise of female leaders in STEM fields could be the lack of women in leadership positions today. Women have fewer role models currently working in these positions, so finding guidance they can relate to is inherently more difficult.


Additionally, the perception of what it takes to be a successful leader is often based on those currently in those positions. And a lack of diversity in key roles makes it harder for individuals to determine whether they have what it takes to succeed.

Workplace Priorities

Often, certain priorities regarding career management are seen as “women’s issues.” This specifically pertains to the concept of work/life balance. While many see work/life balance as pertaining to family obligations, that isn’t always the case. In fact, those looking to further their education may crave work/life balance to make attending classes and working full time a more manageable goal. Others may have volunteer opportunities they want to pursue or even recreational interests.


Additionally, work/life balance is often cited by men and women as a top priority, suggesting that the implied gender divide on the issue doesn’t actually exist.

Encouraging Diversity

The benefits of diversity in the workplace are well-known. The lack of women in STEM leadership positions, especially in tech-intensive operations, means that a company doesn't realize the full benefit of having a diverse workforce. So how should a business work to create a more balanced workplace? By offering the right kind of support.


Mentoring at the executive level is highly common, but many choose to mentor someone who reminds them of themselves. Often, that leads male executives to choose other male employees. While forcing a mentoring relationship might not be realistic, encourage executives of every background to mentor promising female students and colleagues to help them prepare for leadership roles. Additionally, encourage women in the workplace to seek opportunities to work with a mentor openly in the workplace.


With unemployment low in technical positions and the potential workforce shortages as the baby boomer generation retires, not having diversity in the workplace may lead to an even more difficult situation for tech companies in the future.


If you are looking for more information about women and STEM careers or are looking for a new employee to join your team, the professionals at The Armada Group are available to assist. Contact us and let us put our expertise to work for you.


3 generational conflicts


Today, many large workplaces have at least four generations represented in their employees. Though baby boomers have begun retiring, many have chosen to stay active in the working world. Gen X is prominent, and Millennials make up the bulk of most workforces. Now, Gen Z has begun to make themselves known as well.


Bringing together all of these different perspectives and preferences can be a challenge, and conflict is sure to arise from time to time. When one of those times comes, here are three ways to diffuse the tension created generational conflicts in the office.

1. Fight the Stereotypes

Even if a stereotype isn’t meant as a negative, making assumptions about what someone is like based solely on when they were born is a mistake. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t pervasive, especially when coworkers don’t interact with one another on a regular basis.


One way to stop conflicts based on stereotypes before they start is to get everyone engaged in projects together. Team-building exercises that provide the opportunity to explore each other’s skills outside of a traditional work situation can help employees get to know one another in a less threatening environment.


Within the workplace, encourage employees to work together regularly, or work on cross-training opportunities. Once a level of mutual respect is built, generational differences won’t be a source of conflict.

2. Keep Everyone Accountable

While younger generations have increased opportunities for flexible scheduling and remote work, not everyone has chosen to embrace those styles. Regardless of the number of people who do or don’t choose alternate scheduling options, it is important that accountability remains consistent across the entire workforce.


Set defined expectations regarding the level of communication as well as the method. For example, a weekly video conference gives everyone a chance to communicate in real-time, while email turnaround standards ensure that one employee isn’t stuck waiting for a response from another. You can also have set times where coworkers must be generally available to one another.


For example, set a particular hour each day where no one is allowed to set appointments with anyone outside of the team. That way, coworkers can schedule a time to catch up if scheduling conflicts have prevented them from touching base.

3. Use Technology Properly

Every generation has their preferred method for wasting a little time at work. While the occasional break should be encouraged, constant distractions from personal smartphones, emails, or other activities can harm productivity.


To make sure technology is seen as a positive in the workplace and not a source of distraction, set ground rules regarding personal tech use during work hours. While you don’t have to eliminate it completely, consider banning certain devices during specific occasions. For example, the weekly staff meeting could be tech free.


However, it is wise to balance this out by supporting technology (including social media) when it can serve the business well. Have your most tech-savvy employees work with those who are less familiar or who could use a process update.


By respecting the preferences of all of your employees at the right times, you can limit generational conflict and create an environment in which everyone can thrive.


If you are looking for more information about generational conflict in the workplace or are interested in locating a new employee to join your team, the professionals at The Armada Group are here to help. Contact us and speak to a recruitment specialist today.

Armada AI


Most companies know the value of a diverse workforce, but finding the right candidates can be a challenge for tech-oriented companies. Even unintentional bias can impact hiring decisions, making the diversity gap harder to close. To combat the effects of unconscious bias, some organizations are leveraging a relatively new technology to help solve the problem. And that solution is artificial intelligence.


Understanding Bias

The majority of the population don’t consider themselves to hold biases in regards to diversity. However, many people make decisions under the control of unconscious bias. Often, people are more comfortable communicating with individuals who share certain characteristics with themselves. And this innate desire for comfort incidentally affects our choices.


Additionally, people maintain preconceived notions regarding who a person should be. For example, if your company is looking for someone who is bilingual in English and Spanish, you may picture a certain kind of person in your head who you imagine meets the criteria. If someone qualified comes in, but does not match the image you had, you may find yourself making assumptions about their capabilities. And this can occur even when you have solid evidence that your assumption was incorrect.


AI and Avoiding Bias

AI has the capacity to serve as an unbiased third party in regards to candidate analysis. These systems can be designed with machine learning principles and can review data for potential patterns that may reflect unconscious bias within recruiters and hiring managers. Once this information is obtained, the development of strategies to improve internal hiring practices.


Additionally, AI analysis is helpful in tracking which policy changes and hiring techniques are ultimately successful in improving diversity within IT teams. As more information is collected regarding the effects of new strategies, decision-makers can make adjustments to create more favorable results.


Open Communication

Since AI tools are unbiased by design, it is easier to open communication channels regarding unconscious bias in the workplace. Employees, recruiters, and hiring managers aren’t being judged by individuals for behavior that is not necessarily intentional. Instead, decision-makers can approach employees with the benefits of this analysis in promoting diversity in hiring. It also provides an opening to encourage employees at every level to speak up if they see potentially biased hiring practices.


AI can provide useful information to employees at all levels as well. Technology at this level has no regard for the internal hierarchy of the company. That means patterns can be identified and presented whether the person being examined is entry level or a C-level executive. In fact, the unbiased nature of the analysis is ideal for reviewing the activities of all personnel involved in hiring decisions. This gives every person an opportunity to improve to meet the diversity goals of the organization at large.


By combining AI and traditional hiring methods, your organization can evaluate candidates more objectively, ensuring technical capabilities and growth potential are given more weight as decisions are made.


If you are looking for IT professionals to join your team or would like more information about how your organization can increase the diversity of its workforce, The Armada Group can help you locate top talent to meet your needs. Contact us and speak with one of our professional recruiters about how you can reach the diversity goals of your business.

Armada Group RecruiterSpotlight Mitch

The Armada Group understands that the quality of our recruiters has an enormous impact on the results we can provide to clients and job seekers. And keeping the best recruiters on staff requires effort on the part of the business. This includes creating an environment where recruiters are encouraged to work hard for every applicant and client, as well as supporting their development in the field.


As said by Mitchell Postle, a technical recruiter for The Armada Group, “Armada appreciates its employees and implements the Santa Cruz culture in the workplace, and that was very appealing for me.”


The fact that working as a recruiter provides The Armada Group employees unique opportunities, also makes the job worthwhile. Mitchell says, “My favorite part about being a recruiter is having the opportunity to help so many talented people find new roles. Even if we are not able to find someone a new job, I love building relationships and lending a helping hand in any way possible.”


Building strong relationships with every client and job seeker ensures our recruiters understand how the needs differ between various companies and job applicants. Since every candidate placement provides distinct benefits to the client business and the person who was placed, our recruiters get to see how their efforts impact the lives of everyone involved.


And, if making a particular placement is every a challenge, management at The Armada Group is always available. As Mitchell puts it, “Armada cares about every employee. They always go the extra mile to make work fun and keep everyone motivated. Keeping the high touch method of staffing in mind, the management is always available to help, and provide guidance in career growth.”


As far as any favorite client experiences, Mitchell recalls a few placements with Olsen Communications. “I have placed three consultants with [Olsen Communications], and it was a very smooth process. Even more so, I love watching our consultants grown their skills and take advantage of the in-depth training Olsen Com has to offer,” Mitchell says.


Every recruiter working for The Armada Group has the opportunity to develop their job placement skills, allowing them to make good matches between job seekers and client companies. The company provides the recruiters with a working environment that promotes team building and creates incentives to help each employee see this as a place to develop a career.


The success of The Armada Group’s recruiters directly relates to the success our client companies and applicants get to benefit with our successful placements. As the skills of every recruiter grow, you get to put that experience to work for you. Contact us today and see how our skilled recruiters can help you reach your goals. 

8 Skills Deficit

The Internet of Things (IoT) has gained significant attention across the business landscape. Connected products and integrated technologies have businesses eager to take advantage of new developments in the arena. However, the talent required to manage this changing IT landscape isn’t readily available. Shortages in available data scientists, security personnel and wireless networking specialists have made it difficult to fill current openings. And demand is only expected to grow as we enter 2017.

IoT Requires Specific Skills

Not everyone working in the IT professions have the skill sets required to meet the needs of this changing technical environment. IoT technologies involve specialized hardware and software, and new network protocols. Advanced security measures are required to maintain network and data integrity, and big data analytics have a starring role in these developments.


Since each of these specialties may be covered by different IT professionals, a business must have a diverse team to move forward with these new technologies. Having a skills deficit within the team can cause development to practically halt until the missing talents are either acquired or added. This means that financial investments in training, recruiting or both, may be required to keep projects moving forward.

IT Unemployment is Incredibly Low

Unemployment rates for tech professionals are currently 2.8 percent, well below the national average of 4.9 percent. This means that demand for IT skills is incredibly high when compared to the number of professionals available. The lack of talented IT professionals means compensating for skills deficits will be even more challenging, especially in fledgling fields like big data analytics.


Unemployment rates are expected to stay low as more baby boomers reach retirement age as there are not enough potential employees to replace all of those who will be leaving. While talented individuals can be wooed away from their current employers, other businesses may be pursuing your employees in turn. The low unemployment rates also allow professionals to feel more secure about voluntarily quitting a position to search for greener pastures, as the current expectation is that new opportunities can be found quickly.


This means that organizations will need to offer highly competitive wages and benefits to attract new talent and retain current top performers. Often, that means companies have to be willing to invest before the benefits of the new hires are fully realized. Some businesses may be hesitant to dedicate funds based on the potential of IoT but may be unable to enter the field without taking the risk.

A Fight for the Future of Tech

Both of these factors mean that many businesses may not be able to pursue the projects they have recently had their eye on. Until the required skills become more prevalent in the workforce, finding suitable candidates to fulfill your needs will remain a challenge. The Armada Group can help you locate top talent to advance your IoT endeavours. Contact us to speak with one of our professional recruiters about your current needs and what we have to offer.