Among top technology executives with MBAs, 43 percent said they see themselves moving outside IT as their careers progress, according to our poll of 936 heads of IT about their education, tenure and future plans. When you look at the entire survey sample, 15 percent of respondents said they expect to move outside of IT.
To be a COO or CEO were the most popular aspirations cited by these MBA-wielding IT leaders, the survey finds.
An MBA makes sense for an IT leader, says Jan Bertsch, CIO of Chrysler. Bertsch got her MBA from Eastern Michigan University. “You’re managing a budget, need business experience and need to be financially astute,” she says.
An Advantageous Pedigree
While most companies don’t require new CIOs to have earned MBAs, many say the degree is desirable, says Eric Sigurdson, who leads the information officers’ practice at recruiter Russell Reynolds in New York.
“I’m seeing more leaders in corporate America in general with MBAs and the same with CIOs,” says Sigurdson. About one-third of the CIOs Russell Reynolds recruits have the degree, he says. (For a sampling of Fortune 1000 CIOs with MBAs, check out our chart below.)
Big-Time CIOs with MBA Degrees
Source: CIO reporting
Univ. of Texas
Manchester Business School
Univ. of Oklahoma
Univ. of Dallas
Financial Sector Leads in MBAs
Financial services is the industry with the highest proportion of MBA CIOs, followed by manufacturing and education/non-profit (see chart).
2- or 4-Year Degree
* Percentages sum to more than 100 because respondents could indicate more than one degree
Source: CIO research based on survey of 520 heads of IT
Proportionally, women CIOs appear to have about the same advanced business education as male counterparts: 37 percent of the 126 female respondents said they hold MBAs, compared to 34 percent of the 810 men. Men and women IT leaders with doctorates were equal, at 6 percent.
LaVerne Council, CIO of Johnson & Johnson, the $53 billion pharmaceuticals and consumer products company, got her MBA in operations management from Illinois State University. Combined with her background as an Ernst & Young consultant, her learned business skills come into play often, she says, in dealing with vendors and working with peers. CIOs “manage relationships across the enterprise—operationally, commercially,” she says.
Freshly-minted CIOs are more likely to have earned MBAs than CIOs on the job for four years or more. Forty percent of CIOs in their current position for less than a year hold MBAs, and for those in the job less than two years, it’s 47 percent. Just 30 percent of CIOs in place for more than 10 years have MBA degrees.