The role of a CIO involves more than overseeing the technological infrastructure of a company. A good CIO will demonstrate strong communication skills, flexibility and an ability to adapt and change. It can never be stated enough, but working in IT means you will be expected to keep up to date on changing and emerging trends in the industry.
CIOs hold an important position in any company, and that includes remaining just as focused on the company’s best practices, privacy and overall strategy as the CEO. Since technology is such a huge part of every company’s daily business, as a CEO, you will want to make sure you are hiring the right person for the job. And there are a number of factors to consider outside of just software and hardware when it comes time to hire a CIO.
Yuri Sagalov, co-founder and CEO of AeroFS, helps CEOs and CIOs work to establish private cloud infrastructures, his experience working in this role has offered him insight into helping CEOs ensure their CIOs are the right fit for the company. Here are the four qualities he suggests looking for when searching for your CIO soulmate.
A CIO needs to understand technology, of course, but he or she also need to be strategic. Whether its deploying software updates, creating proprietary software for company use, or managing budgetary constraints, a CIO must always be looking at the overall effect his or her choices have on a company.
Businesses can’t be successful without a strategy, and neither can a CIO. When finding the right CIO for your company, you should spend time discussing the overall strategy of your company to make sure your ultimate goals align.
Exceeding expectations as a CIO five years ago, might qualify as simply meeting expectations today. As Sagalov puts it, “a CIO is someone who does more than just keep the Wi-Fi on — he is responsible for strategically growing a company’s information capabilities.”
A CIO needs to have a strategy that will allow the company to thrive and adapt. A strategic CIO is a proactive CIO, and it is important to ensure that the person you hire is willing to plan for the future, rather than react as it happens.
[Related: 6 skills, habits and traits of successful CIOs]
CEOs want a CIO to be focused on the future, on growing the business, and staying ahead of the curve. You can’t remain stagnant in the tech world, or you will fall behind fast. A good CIO is one who has demonstrated a strong history of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
“The best CIOs are those who think big: with an innovative mind and a shared vision, your CIO will bring out the best in your company,” says Sagalov.
An ability to learn and grow is one of the most important skills for a CIO, and having a strong vision is crucial to constantly staying ahead of the curve. Especially in an industry where companies can quickly fall behind.
As with any job opening, you want to ensure that your CIO candidates are a good fit for the overall company culture. If your business model is more traditional and structured, you want a CIO who will understand that. On the flip side, if you run a more relaxed ship with a startup attitude, you will want to hire a CIO who can easily blend into that atmosphere.
A good CIO is willing to effect change in the corporate culture. For example, just because your company has an infrastructure it has relied on for years, maybe decades, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be changed (see “8 skills you need to be a successful IT executive“)
As a CEO, you want a CIO who is willing to tell you when the company needs to change for the better.
[Related: 16 traits of great IT leaders]
Your IT department can only be as good as your CIO, and a key component of a strong IT team is communication. Whether it’s dealing with customers, vendors, or employees, a CIO needs to demonstrate strong communication skills so that the rest of the IT department will follow.
“Without proper integration of a CIO into your business’ lines of communication, even the best CIO is bound to fail – so don’t give your CIO an office next to the computer servers, and make sure communication is a top priority for your next CIO,” says Sagalov.