Can a stint as a chief technology officer groom you for a future slot as a CIO? Yes, say executive recruiters, a CTO job can teach you not only about technology but also about strategy and alignment, and communication in the C-level suite.
In companies where the CIO plays a highly strategic role and focuses on building relationships with other executives, a CTO’s charge is often to support the CIO by identifying the best technologies available to execute and enable business strategy, says Jim Bond, managing director of executive search firm Horton International. “As a general rule, the CTO reports to the CIO,” he says. At software firms, the reverse may apply.
For the two executives to work effectively together, the CIO has to regularly convey the business strategy and direction to the CTO; otherwise the CTO can’t do his job. With consistent communication between the two execs, the CTO post can be a good training stop for aspiring CIOs, says Bond. So if you pursue a CTO role, seek out a boss who collaborates well.
Several CTOs have moved into the CIO post recently. Among them: Dave Egbert was promoted to CIO of insurance provider Markel Corp. in December 2006. Egbert succeeds and reports to former CIO John Latham, who was appointed senior VP of operations.
Also in December, Certain Software promoted Jonathan Dodson to CIO and hired Michael Winner as its new CTO. Winner reports to Dodson.
Raymond Ouellette landed the CIO role at Forbes.com in May 2006, after serving as Thompson Media’s CTO. He’s accountable to Forbes.com General Manager Michael Smith.
Last February, InterContinental Hotels Group named Tom Conophy CIO, reporting to CEO Andrew Cosslett. Conophy previously served as Starwood Hotels’ executive VP and CTO.