by Edward Qualtrough

Electrolux CIO says it’s crucial to hoover up softer skills

Feb 24, 20142 mins
CareersIT LeadershipManufacturing Industry

CIO at Electrolux, Marcus Claesson, believes technologists need to learn as much as they can about business and other industries if they are going to work their way into a C-suite position.

The former CTO and global head of IT operations at the Swedish household and professional appliances manufacturer told CIO columnist Ade McCormack in theHP Business Value Exchange that these softer business skills were crucial for those looking to get ahead in the IT function.

“Gather as much experience as you can,” he said. “Understand the customer.

“Expose yourself to different cultures. Learn to communicate effectively. Develop leadership skills and people around you. Learn how to negotiate. Understand finance and make sure you enjoy everything from basic support to being involved in business development.”

Claesson, the Stockholm-based CIO since October 2010, also believes these attributes can help CIOs work their way into the top.

“As technology is becoming central to business strategy, increasingly CIOs with the right personal skills and business knowledge are becoming CEOs and COOs,” he said.

But aside from a CIO’s personal ambitions, workforce development across the organisation is a crucial part of the IT leader’s responsibility.

“The role of the CIO,” Claesson said, “is to take people from where they otherwise would not go and achieve business outcomes that otherwise would not happen.”

For Claesson, this includes adopting a bring-your-own-device strategy as an enabler to make end-users as productive as they can be.

He said: “It makes sense to enable certain services to be consumed on devices other than company-owned devices. It is a trend that is likely to continue. Technology not only allows us to improve enterprise-wide processes, but also how we operate as individuals and collaborate with others.

“BYOD appeals to certain individuals and is typically appreciated by them, and I believe that enabling users to work smarter should be part of an IT strategy.

“It’s not a burden but an opportunity; an opportunity that needs to be managed, and not just from a technology perspective.”