James Chatman is a High Powered Professional Mover & Shaker in technology. Mr. Chatman is Manager of Technical Services for Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia where he reports directly to the Chief Information Officer. He has enjoyed an exceptional career with the Albemarle County Public School system being promoted 3 times over a span of 7 years! In addition to his highly progressive career, he is heavily involved in the community. He is a member of the NAACP, a founding member of 100 Black Men of Central Virginia (100 Black Men of America), and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated. Recently, he was featured in the Albemarle Magazine (page 14) for his work as a mentor.
Mr. Chatman served our country for 6 ½ years in the United States Navy. He holds a Bachelor’s in Information Systems from the University of Maryland. And, he was recently accepted and will be pursing his MBA at the Darden School of Business (University of Virginia).
Q: Tell me about your current role as Manager of Technical Services for Albemarle County Public Schools.
I currently manage a staff of 8 people consisting of technicians and network administrators. I handle the purchasing and budgets for the county with regards to technology. And, I negotiate deals with vendors to obtain the technologies that we need for the school system.
Q: You managed to get promoted 3 times, moving to the #2 position in technology in your school system within 7 years. What do you attribute to your success?
I make sure that I stay abreast of current technologies. I read a lot of publications to stay current with what’s going on with cutting edge technologies and new innovations. I stay current with my certifications. In technology, you have the opportunity to get certifications that make you a specialist. One thing that I had coming in the door was my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineering (MCSE) certification and I continue to keep it current. And, then I obtained my Cisco certification which made me a Certified Cisco Network Associate (CCNA). So, with those two certifications along with my credentials, I was able to move up the ladder. People also noticed that I have passion for what I do. My superintendant even pointed out that she loved my passion.
Q: As a manager of 8 employees, tell me what separates the rising the star from the stagnant employee?
Anybody can have the skill to do the job. Skills can be acquired. But, your will cannot be taught. It is a part of your intrinsic makeup. You must be willing to do things that may be outside of the normal job scope. You have to be creative. You have to be innovative. I look for people who are willing and those who try to go above and beyond the normal call of duty. Everybody on my staff is good at what they do – they have the technical skills. But, in order to stand out, those are the fundamental differences that I look for.
Q: In addition to your demanding role, you’ve taken a very active role in the community. How do you juggle it all? And, why is it important for you to be a part of these organizations?
I believe all of the organizations that I belong to are very important. God is an important part of my life. So, I pray for direction on where to place my focus at any given time. However, there’s a consistent focus on my mentorships. The young men that I mentor are in 6th and 7th grade. It’s an important time in their lives and they need somebody there to help push them to the next level. So, I stay engaged. As far as the other organizations, when I’m dedicating time to one, I may have to take time away from another. It’s all about time management and prioritizing.
Q: Do you have any parting words of wisdom for professionals trying to enter or move up in the technology industry?
You have to love it. You can’t be in it for the money. It’s something that you have to love because it requires a lot of time researching and a lot of time staying abreast of technology. The money is very good, but you have to have passion for the field.