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Break the Geek Stereotype: How a CIO Can Become a CEO

Making the leap from CIO to CEO is a chasm jump, especially because of the backlash from other members of the business. CIO capabilities are not always valued compared to those of traditional leadership roles. But all hope is not lost! In an article for Computing, Sooraj Shah shares how to break out of the mold and make the successful transition from CIO to CEO.

The Final Frontier

There are a plethora of success stories of tech leaders who have made it into a CEO role. David Yu, from Betfair, was a CTO in 2001 and then promoted to CEO in 2006. Betfair has seen great growth since Yu’s promotion. All the same, the CIO to CEO transition is still very much a rarity in the business world. One of the problems is the stereotype that CIOs are very introverted people by nature. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that those in IT become accustomed to working in their small team, or by themselves.

In actuality, CIOs are often wonderful leaders. They can articulate ideas well and are great business leaders. What gives CIOs an upper hand is that they additionally have the technical skills that are demanded in this digital world. Going digital can completely change a business for the better, which opens the door for the CIO to CEO transition.

CIOs do have some things they will need to work on before they can effectively be a CEO. They are not used to being the public face of the company. Becoming CEO means that they will have greater public accountability. Some other elements missing from the CIO repertoire include “sales, marketing and interaction with the customer.” CIOs will need to make the extra effort to develop their careers. Perhaps this means pursuing an MBA, or maybe they simply must sit in on more marketing meetings. They need to go the extra mile to integrate more into the business and pick up more skills.

It is estimated that a mere 15 to 25 percent of CIOs currently have the right skills to become efficient business leaders. The CEO path is not one for everyone, but the best way for an aspiring CIO to become CEO is to give up their “ego-satisfying” job in IT and look more into the business.

Companies that are largely based online are more likely to approach a CIO to become CEO. Still, every organization is different, and this means that the approach to CEO will vary everywhere. You can read the original article here:

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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