Christy Confetti Higgins & Crucial LIS Skills to Learn Now
Published: October 26, 2016 by Kate M. Spaulding
iSchool alumna Christy Confetti Higgins’ advice to students: “Be open, take risks, be agile, and have fun.”
Today, I’d like to introduce Christy Confetti Higgins, Cybrarian at Oracle and iSchool alumna. She was generous enough to respond to my questions (see? Informational interviewing at work!), and I’m really happy she did because her career and what she has to say are both super interesting. I’m encouraged by her skills list below, in part because we hone many of them in classes here, regardless of subject, while others we can purposely learn through courses, internships, or work experience.
Hi, Christy! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got to this place in your career?
Hi, Kate. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my career with students in the iSchool program. I went to University of California at Davis and then to San José State University for my MLIS (in 1999 – yikes!).
My mom was a library clerk for over 30 years so I grew up around information. When I learned about corporate libraries and librarians who focused on research, I was sold. I applied for grad school immediately and was interested in the research teams at NASA, Disney, and various high-tech companies. I then applied for a 10-hour-a-week position at the Sun Microsystems library called SunLibrary. There, I found my mentor, manager, and friend, Cindy Hill.
Shortly thereafter, I was hired at Sun as a full-time researcher focusing on business, competitive, and market research. I continued full time at Sun while getting my MLIS. I was a researcher for a few years, and I really found a passion for information architecture, website design, search engines, and enterprise social media. This was at a time that these areas were somewhat new for information professionals / librarians and I was very interested in the space.
I then led the digital library program at Sun where I was able to be part of so many innovative information projects. What I love most about being a librarian is that I’m always learning something new, every day is different, and I get the opportunity to work with many different people across the world.
The work is always changing but the goal is always the same – to make sure users have easy, reliable access to the information they need to learn, develop, and get their job done. This impacts both their own growth and the growth of the company which, hopefully, is also impacting the world in a positive way.
In 2010, Oracle acquired Sun, and I was lucky enough to be part of it. I’m now a senior Cybrarian at Oracle in the HR Communications and Information Services team. This has been great! I love, love my job. I manage a program called Virtual Information Services where we have four buckets of work:
- Virtual library: all the content
- Social enablement: using all our amazing internal social tools and working with teams on strategy for their own use of social
- Information access: integrating information and ensuring it’s easily accessible – mobile, search, etc.
- Research and content services: content curation, information campaigns, strategic research
What do you think most helped you get your current job(s)? Your education? Your network? Specific skills? Extracurricular activities, like presenting or publishing papers, volunteering, or something else?
I think all of this is part of what makes you a well-rounded candidate for any position. You need specific skills, the desire to learn and grow, the foundational education, and you must have good networking approaches (presenting, volunteering, writing, etc.). I don’t think any of these are one or the other, but a mix that will get you to the right path and career journey that you are looking for. It also never stops—continuous learning and networking is critical to continue to grow in your role or expand to a new role.
Given the current state of the LIS profession and all its different potential career paths, what skills do you think will be most in demand in the next 5-10 years?
I think the foundational skills for an information professional will be key, but beyond the foundation, here are a few skills I see as very important:
- Communications and marketing skills – including writing, social media, creative skills
- Decision making and negotiation skills - we need these skills for our everyday work in analyzing information, the needs of our users, and making smart decisions quickly based on good data. We also need to have the skills to negotiate deadlines and contracts with our information partners.
- Innovation skills – having a desire to innovate and to look for new and better ways to deliver information services or solutions. Things are changing so quickly that it’s critical to keep up on information services and technologies in order to deliver what is expected by our users.
- User experience – skills in user experience and user-centered design approach are key. We exist to serve the information needs of our customers and must think about the experience they have; we need to create an experience that is more like a consumer-focused experience.
- Networking and relations management – the work we do can have a much greater impact if we have stronger relationships with our users, so building in networking skills and learning how to create relationships is important.
- Digital and data science skills – understanding the value of digital transformation for the businesses that we work for and for our own work; learning about big data impacts, as well as building on our research skills to incorporate data science principals including analyzing large sets of data to make the data meaningful and information actionable.
I think there continues to be great opportunity for information professionals to expand, grow, and leverage our skills for a variety of careers.
What career advice do you have for students?
Be open, take risks, be agile, and have fun in whatever path(s) you choose. Our work has great value and can impact people in so many ways—be proud of that and do what’s meaningful for you.