by Meridith Levinson

On the Move – A New Frontier for CIOs in Corporate Ops

Nov 01, 20052 mins

It used to be that the only opportunity a successful CIO had for career growth was to become the respected CIO of a bigger company. There were few options for those who wanted to move beyond IT to another senior management role. But today, the prospects for CIOs who wish to take on broader management duties are looking brighter.

Consider this: CIO counted eight IT executives who moved into operations positions this past summer alone. Among them, Joe DeTullio, Universal Music Group’s CIO, was appointed CEO of Royalty Services, a joint venture of Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Exigen Group. And Asiff Hirji was promoted from CIO of Ameritrade to COO.

Others who moved up the ladder recently include Michael Rumak, CIO of the Enesco Group, who was put in charge of operations in a cost-cutting move; Lance Reese, who after more than a decade as CIO of satellite TV company RS&I, became COO of documentation technology provider DocuTech; and Joseph Seibert, formerly senior VP and CIO of GSI Commerce, who joined online retailer Home Decor Products as its COO.

In addition, Ted Cahall left his post as CIO and senior VP of engineering at CNET Networks to take on the dual role of executive VP and COO at and executive VP of parent company United Online’s Web Services division; Mark Cameron was promoted from CIO to COO at VantageMed; and Sandra Morris, once Intel’s CIO, was hired as VP and general manager of Kodak’s Digital Imaging Services Group.

Eric Sigurdson, who leads Russell Reynolds’ Information Officers Practice, thinks the trend indicates that “the really outstanding CIOs have gotten so strong that companies are having to consider promoting them,” either to retain them or to lure them away to new organizations. The CIOs who are best positioned to move into operations, adds Sigurdson, are those who already have several years of general management experience under their belts in addition to running IT.