How Far Can CIOs Go in the Tech Career Path?

Maybe being a CIO is not the best thing that happens to your life if you have the ability to climb even higher on the executive ladder. But how do you know if there is a better place to be than a CIO’s desk? And what are the best things can a CIO really do? Mark Samuels, in writing for ZDNet, talks about the career path of CIOs and their future roles, which involve the following:

  1. Establishing a strong culture of change
  2. Looking to climb the career ladder
  3. Recognizing the inherent value of the CIO role

Push Your Career to Reach the Limits

Jonathan Mitchell, non-executive director at Harvey Nash and former CIO at Rolls Royce, says IT leaders must now be strategic change agents. CIOs need to help push digital transformation and get people across the organization to recognize the cultural shift that is required in the digital information age. In order to do this, tech chiefs should encourage their IT teams to think in a creative manner, rather than focusing purely on operations. Results are also achieved more quickly if technological changes are made integrated into broader business objectives.

You shouldn’t be satisfied with where you’re standing right now even if you’re a CIO. You can always climb higher on the executive ladder if you have the ability and competence. The key factor for CIOs to rise is management capability, which requires modern CIOs to be business leaders and experts in as many areas as possible. However, talents is not enough if no one knows about you or like you. Therefore, actively participating in conversations at work and communicating to your peers are very important, so that you can hear the challenges they face and offer solutions.

When you get to the C-suite, it’s a beauty contest where you need to be competent and know what you’re doing. The nature of technology is ever-changing, so the IT leadership position is open to challenge. If you want to win the contest, you have to take steps to be more well-positioned by understanding your competition, your opponents, and yourself—your strengths and weaknesses—and being responsible in improving and addressing important issues:

[Dave Smoley, CIO at AstraZeneca] says all senior IT leaders must recognise the c-suite is a competitive place. CIOs might find, for example, that some of their peers have technology experience or that they have helped run an IT-focused business. Successful CIOs embrace the boardroom battle and meet the challenge for supremacy head on.

“The CIO used to own the technology domain – increasingly, everybody has got opinions,” he says. “And when that’s the case, your success comes down to how effective you are and whether your objectives relate strongly to the goals of the broader business.”

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