by Meridith Levinson

When Your Move Up Doesn’t Fit

May 22, 20072 mins

For many IT executives, the CIO title isn’t the end-all and be-all; they aspire to executive roles like COO and CEO. But upon reaching that coveted other “O” position, some longtime CIOs conclude they’re not cut out for it. They realize that their new job isn’t so glamorous, or that the CIO job wasn’t so bad. So they return to the CIO role. And that’s A-OK, say recruiters.

There’s no shame in trying on a role that doesn’t work out, says Sam Gordon, CIO practice director at executive search firm Harvey Nash, unless, of course, you’ve very publicly failed in your new post. “People respect you more for trying something out and having battle scars to show for it than for not trying something new,” says Gordon. “It’s the old adage ‘Anything that doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’ “

Two longtime CIOs who had moved outside of IT recently became CIOs again:

David Guzman, the former CIO of Owens & Minor, started at Accretive Commerce in April, after serving as Yankee Group’s chief research officer. Joseph DeTullio joined media and entertainment industry conglomerate IMG in April, after serving as CEO for EquaTrax, a company that provides royalty processing services to the music industry. (Before that, he held CIO roles with Universal Music Group and The Seagram Co.)

Commenting on his return to the CIO role, DeTullio says his CEO role didn’t turn out to be such a big transition. “I went from a CIO role at the world’s largest music company to the CEO role at a startup joint venture that had one purpose: to build a royalties platform for the entertainment and music industry. It wasn’t that big of a change for me. I wanted to move back into a position with a global business and a broad scope of responsibility.” You can’t fault him for that.