Greg Smith became the CIO of the World Wildlife Fund five years ago at the age of 37. As he climbed the career ladder, he worked as a programmer, a consultant, and a senior IT manager and taught at a local university. In Straight to the Top: Becoming a World-Class CIO, Smith describes what he learned along the way.His purpose is to advise up-and-coming IT executives about the skills they should have in order to land their first CIO position\u2014among them, experience with project management, outstanding communication skills, expertise in managing vendors and a strategy for working with executive recruiters. The book is partly a review of existing literature on best practices in IT management and partly a forum for Smith and other CIOs to communicate their observations about how to succeed. (Full disclosure: Smith is a member of the CIO Executive Council, a professional community managed by CIO\u2019s publisher, and he has written for this magazine.)Smith is best when he analyzes his personal experiences. In combing that terrain, he delivers an unusual insight: One of the most valuable career experiences an aspiring CIO can have is to work as a consultant. Consultants, he argues, earn their bread by listening closely to their clients. They develop top-notch communication skills, gain experience in multiple aspects of business and assimilate best practices for system development. It\u2019s good preparation, he thinks, for a job in which success depends on one\u2019s ability to establish strong relationships with business users.Smith also argues that one key to advancing is to network. But it\u2019s a challenge for technologists who are typically introverts. Smith explains how he does it. He also prescribes golf as a way to build relationships. (He says it saved his sanity by getting him out of the office.) Even aspiring executives need to have fun once in a while.