Does a career in Major Incident Management set you up for long term career success?

Career in Major Incident Manager lead to a good career


We reviewed over 200 job ads for the top jobs, CEO, CIO, Managing Director, IT Director and Head of Service Delivery to identify the most sought-after skills and how it relates to the skills and knowledge acquired by Major Incident Managers and positions them for career success.

 The article:

It has long fascinated me that those that succeed in IT Major Incident Management often go on to succeed long-term in their careers.

If I had to provide a solid guess at why that is, it would probably be something along the lines of:

At it’s core, Major Incident Management is about Leadership, further to that, it is mostly about the leadership of people and resources who are not in your direct reporting line, and in the larger organisations, they are often dispersed across multiple locations, across multiple time zones.

Add the urgency of a Major Incident that may be causing thousands of End Users to be unable to work, the impact could be millions of pounds in lost revenue, lost productivity or worse, reputational damage to yours or your client business.

This means a Major Incident Manager has some of the most complex leadership scenarios to deal with, under extreme stress, in a high-profile situation where C-Level Executives are watching along-side the End Users and Service Assurance, all expecting a swift resolution.

Due to the nature of major incidents, they are often more complex, with multiple technical disciplines (and personalities) involved. Major Incident managers are working in an uncertain landscape, yet to be effective must make decisions swiftly, while identifying and mitigating the risks, knowing that they have limited information. Despite all of this, they must inspire confidence to all stakeholders.

Effective Major Incident Managers are always learning. New concepts, new technologies, new ways to overcome adversity, and those that really thrive learn quickly from mistakes and apply their learnings to future encounters for better outcomes.

For those that succeed in these roles, they have the opportunity to hone leadership skills across countless scenarios enabling them to fine tune their craft. This is an opportunity that very few roles provide.

They get exposure to nearly every part of the Operation, as well as exposure to the core business of the end users, making them more commercial and proving a more holistic view of businesses and how the whole works.

They have a sense of purpose and it is a fantastic feeling to know that your contribution makes a difference, individuals who are passionate and motivated are far more likely to excel.

The combination of all of this means you end up with highly desirable skillsets forged in some of the most challenging environments. Major Incident Management effectively gives people the tools, skills, knowledge and resistance to being extremely effective throughout any future roles they perform.

More than just an opinion:

However, we didn’t want to just provide an opinion. We wanted to know how the skills learned, developed and refined in Major Incident Management translated to the highly sought after top jobs, both in IT and other industries. Thus supporting long term career success for those who work in Major Incident Management.

So, we analysed over 200 jobs ads across the globe with the titles:

  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Managing Director
  • IT Director / Director of IT
  • Head of Service Delivery

We then compared the skills and competencies of Major Incident Managers with the top jobs (see the table below).

The salaries for these Senior leadership jobs ranged from a basic of £85,000 – to well over £200,000 plus some great benefits and huge bonuses.  (USD $121,800 – $286,588), (AUD $156,604 – $368,481), (INR 8,001,582 – 18,827,252).

The results

While not an exhaustive list of the skills, behavioural competencies and knowledge required by either a Major Incident Manager or the top jobs shown below they are the most common and sought after.

Does a career in Major Incident Management set you up for long term success

A Brief explanation of the skills:

Inspirational Leadership 

This is quite different from the outright authoritative style of leadership. Inspirational leaders take people on the journey, communicating their vision, coaching and motivating others also to take ownership of achieving shared goals. They win trust and give respect while showing gratitude.

Exceptional Communication

There are different levels to being a ‘great communicator.’

Exceptional communicators understand emotional intelligence (EQ). They have the insights and ability to manage their own and others emotions while pairing them with logic and reason.  Couple this with a good understanding of psychometric profiling (Psychometric profiling is used to measure individual’s capabilities and behavioral styles) means that exceptional communicators collaborate and lead more effectively as each engagement is tailored to the person(s) they are engaging with and their style of communication, minimising conflict and maximising collaboration.

The different needs of stakeholders while viewing the communication from multiple perspectives to ensure a balanced view.

Team and relationship building

 The ability to build, nurture and develop outstanding teams. The ability to influence, create and maintain excellent inter-departmental relationships.

Agile Decision Making

The ability to make decisions in uncertainty, or with limited information. A key theme in today’s fast-changing world.

They have a clear understanding of second and third order consequences.  Most people base their decisions on outcomes they want (i.e., first-order consequences), all decisions though have second and third order consequences to the decision. This balances short term, medium term and long term aspects and leads to superior decision making and outcomes, as well as better risk management. 


The ability to deliver and continue to perform at high standards in the face of adversity or overcome challenges. 

Change Management (Not Service Management’s Change Management but organisational change)

The ability to prepare, equip and support individuals to adopt a change to ensure organisations desired outcomes. 

The Conclusion

While you might not be making a jump directly into the C-suite from a role as a Major Incident Manager, a career in Major Incident Management is a great choice for anyone looking to develop a long and successful career. It provides a rare opportunity to develop solid leadership and communication skills that will be invaluable to your climb to the top jobs.

There are many transferable skills that a Major Incident Manager acquires that apply to the top jobs such as CEO, CIO, Director, IT Director and Head of Service. There are still additional skills and knowledge that will have to be learned and earned, but the foundation puts Major Incident Managers on the right path, should they have ambitions of one day reaching the top jobs.

For aspiring Major Incident Managers

If you are ambitious, enjoy a challenge and ultimately want to achieve career success then Major Incident Management is a fantastic opportunity. Reach out and get a mentor who is a current, experienced Major Incident Manager.  Start learning, asking questions, developing your knowledge and skills. 

For current Major Incident Managers 

Of course, you are busy, but never stop learning, developing, and upgrading your skills. Remember what a fantastic and rare opportunity a role like Major Incident Management is.

Get a mentor that you respect and listen to their advice.

Mentor others, help those that want to get into Major Incident Management as much as you can.

If you want to excel in your current and future roles, then formal training qualifications such as the Foundation or Practitioner certification in Best Practice IT Major Incident Management may be appropriate. Or individual formal leadership training.

Stay current to stay competitive. Keeping an eye on the trends in Major Incident Management will keep you ahead of your competition. It is an exciting time for the industry.

And for those with their eye on one of the top jobs the additional skills we have not mentioned that are most commonly requested are financial literacy and project management.

For Heads of and Service Owners

It can be tempting to hold on to your best Major Incident Managers, after all, they protect the organisation, save millions of pounds and become integral to the IT Operations ultimate success.

In my experience the best Major Incident Managers tend to be ambitious, holding on to them for too long can mean losing them from your organisation completely.

Instead of building a sustainable talent pool of Major Incident Managers to backfill as soon as one of your current team moves on, this removes the dreaded single points of failure and capabilities loss, while maintaining a consistently high mean time to resolution (MTTR).

We offer consultancy around building sustainable pools of Major Incident Management talent to learn more contact us at

For CEO’s, CIO’s and Directors 

For those of you in the IT industry, look to your Major Incident Management teams for your future leaders and nurture their progression through your organisation with diligent mentorship, it will pay dividends.

For those of you outside of the IT industry, IT Major Incident Managers develop some of the most sought-after, highly transferable skills. Good ones are rare and could make valuable additions to your organisation even if the role has nothing to do with IT. Having your talent management team search for current or ex-Major Incident Managers, there will be fewer people competing for their attention and they will make excellent additions to your organisation.

Views from thought leaders in the industry:
Martin Rushent; Fromer, Global Head of IT for Oil Spill Response

“The role of incident management in a large fast paced organisation can be an attractive prospect to anyone wishing to move up to the next level, the issue is that not everyone can be proficient in this role. To be an effective MIM you need to have a little more tenacity and self-belief than the majority of your peers.

The right person often becomes an effective leader and role model and very quickly becomes known within a company. You have to be able to command respect and impart information to any level of the company and you have to provide that information confidently, authoritively and in a timely fashion. After your first major incident this becomes part of you DNA and tends to influence your career choices and they will generally end up in leadership roles.” 

About Martin Rushent; Former, Global Head of IT for Oil Spill Response

 An effective Global IT Leader accomplished in strategy, management, consultancy and delivery of all aspects of IT services including business solutions, project management and service transition. A motivated IT Leader able to lead teams, managers and individuals.

Sarah Bond; Service Delivery Lead at DXC

MIM can set you up for a great career as the skills required to do it are transferable, the role also gives you a huge opportunity to network with various teams and people at all levels within an organisation, as well as stakeholders. MIM can give you a holistic view of how the infrastructure and services are put together, which is a great foundation when looking to move forwards in your career. 

My best MIMs are energised and have a sense of urgency. They’re confident in leading discussions or being honest if they need support. They’re good at talking to people and they are organised”.

About Sarah Bond

 Sarah is the delivery lead for the SIAM layer for DXC in the private sector. She has experience in running Service Desks, Operations Management, Service Delivery and Service Transition. She is energised, can talk to anyone and loves adventures!