'IT professionals must 'stand tall' if they are to alter perceptions of the industry and break through the glass ceiling to secure a seat on the board' according to Adam Thilthorpe, BCS Professionalism in IT Programme manager.

In an exclusive interview Adam explains why this is such an important programme.

The BCS appears to be very keen on this idea of professionalism, what is it exactly?

It's about exploiting and applying IT professionally in a way that reduces costs and the risk of failure, having up-to-date skills combined with practical and theoretical knowledge.

For the individual practitioner it means having experience relevant to a task or role, coupled with a commitment to maintaining ethical standards, and a responsibility to work not only for the good of your employer, but also in the wider interests of society.

In short, it means recognising the profound impact IT projects have, and will continue to have, on everybody else.

Why is it important?

The IT industry is the single most important factor in the success of the UK's economy, (incidentally the fifth largest economy in the world), and is at the core of some of the most successful brands of our age from travel, including Lastminute.com to supermarkets like Tesco, and everything else in between. And, given the massive influence of mobile phone technology and the internet, that impact is going to increase.

The truth is that technology is at the heart of business to the extent it is driving business. And IT professionals working in this new exciting business environment need to have a broad understanding of the business case; they need to understand how business works.

What is your role in the programme?

My job is to co-ordinate activity around professionalism inside BCS and also to take the idea of professionalism and best practice out to the IT industry, to spur the industry into action, but also to get its views and take them back to the BCS to be better able to support the industry and drive professionalism in IT forward.

Why is the BCS communicating this idea to IT professionals? The IT industry isn’t exactly short of work at the moment.

Professionalism isn't an idea the BCS has plucked out the air; we've been working with a number of bodies and industry over the past four years and it's very much part of our remit and what we were originally set up to do as an independent body.

The fact the IT industry is so busy at the moment tells us it's the right time to take the idea of what professionalism is to employees and employers. There is a growing realisation that technology and IT is the force behind business, economic and social change.

If we are the most important workforce economically speaking then we have to be recognised and stand equal to other professions such as surveyors and accountants.

Shouldn't the BCS be concentrating on other projects and let the IT industry recruit people from overseas if it needs to in years to come?

Would you really advise a country to outsource its army or navy? Knowledge capital has made modern Britain the economic success it is today and we need to make sure we don’t lose that.

Who else is involved in this idea?

The BCS is working with an alliance of organisations, including National Computing Centre (NCC), Intellect and e-skills toward a common goal of helping business effectively exploit the potential of information technology.

Who does this programme affect?

Obviously individuals working in information technology, the companies they work for, Government, and, just about everyone else. The ramifications of the successful exploitation of IT has consequences for the whole of society. That's why it's so important.

What's in it for individual IT professionals?

Apart from knowing you are the best you can be, reaping the financial rewards, or staying ahead of the competition, both overseas and in Britain, adhering to the values and expectations of your profession also brings a respect for the very important role IT professionals play in the economy.

I am interested in developing my 'professionalism' as you call it. How do I go about this?

The best advice I can give you is to join a professional organisation like the BCS at www.bcs.org if you are an IT professional, or one of the many engineering institutions, depending on your occupation, and get involved in shaping and determining the way your profession is moving. The most important thing is to do something!