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Next CIO UK recognises and celebrates the rising stars in the UK IT sector. Next CIO will help aspiring digital, data and technology leaders develop their careers, build their professional networks and improve their skillsets. This will be done through editorial content, an in-person awards ceremony in London and mentoring from Next CIO UK judges and former CIO 100 winners alike.
Judges Nadine Thomson, Dave Roberts and Dom Howson sat down with CIO UK editor Doug Drinkwater to discuss how the new Next CIO programme can help aspiring leaders to gain recognition and improve their career prospects. The trio also reveal what they’re hoping to see in award submissions.
The power of communities like Next CIO and CIO 100
The inaugural Next CIO aims to bring together future technology leaders together from all walks of life, and it’s this sense of community that Dave Roberts, global IT director at Stantec, says can be invaluable as your career progresses.
“I think creating this Next CIO community is really going to provide that fantastic support that will help people to really flourish and develop in their roles,” he says.
Dom Howson, CIO at Viridor, has seen this first-hand, having been a frequent member of the CIO UK 100.
“I’ve benefited an awful lot from the CIO 100 community and all around it,” he says. “I’ve learned lots in my career. More from my peers and people that I listen to, and their experiences, rather than any glossies that you might get from a vendor. I think that’s hugely powerful – the power of this community.”
However, Howson acknowledges that few communities exist for aspiring digital, data or technology leaders to network and learn. It’s here that Next CIO UK will play an active role, bringing successful cohort members together at the awards ceremony, and offering complementary mentoring and workshop opportunities throughout the year.
Mediacom’s global CTO Nadine Thomson believes such communities can be the place to bounce ideas off peers, enhance your career prospects and make friends in the process.
“What I’ve got from the CIO 100 community is connections, networks and support — and that is so important in your career.
“A lot of the CIO 100 become friends; we go out for a coffee or a glass of wine and, and just a real support network that understand some of the challenges you’re facing on a day-to-day basis.”
Next CIO seeks diverse future IT leaders
With Next CIO UK targeting digital, data and technology professionals with aspirations of being in a senior executive role within five years, it represents an opportunity to recognise developing talents while addressing the IT industry’s biggest flaw – diversity.
Highlighting that only 17% of women work in technology and the lack of ethnic representation (Editor’s note: in the CIO 100 UK 2021, only 21% were women, and 15% were from black or Asian backgrounds), Thomson says Next CIO represents an opportunity to celebrate a more diverse group of future leaders.
“I love to see more female leaders and I know that we as a judging group would love to see more diverse leaders in all areas, across the board.
“For me, this is a way of helping us reach the next-generation of technology leaders, to encourage and showcase a diversity of technology leaders, and show that you can come from any kind of career path to get into that CIO or CTO spot.”
Howson and Roberts say that aspiring leaders will need a wide breadth of skills and experience to graduate to the top table when the time comes, and this stresses the importance of CIOs creating detailed succession plans. Thomson, meanwhile, believes the evolution of senior technology roles means there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to the CIO or CTO position.
“Different companies need different experiences,” she says, revealing how one start-up may require deep technical expertise, while a FTSE 100 company may need a leader who offers real leadership skills.
Opportunities for mentors and mentees
Successful 2022 Next CIO UK cohort members will be eligible to receive one-on-one mentoring from Next CIO UK judges and CIO 100 members. Roberts sees a clear benefit for both parties.
“I think it’s incredibly important to be able to have people on your journey that can give you an unbiased view of what you’re going through at the time,” he says.
“Starting from the mentee perspective, it’s really important you set out that you’ve got a clear agenda on what you want to achieve,” he adds, continuing that the mentor in turn, must provide ‘active listening’ and non-prescriptive guidance.
Howson, who like Thomson and Roberts who will be one of the mentors on the Next CIO programme, also sees advantages for mentors in learning from mentees.
“As a mentor, you get something out of it as well. Probably dealing with a circumstance, a question or a bit of advice that we haven’t had to deal with before. You work it out between you.”
To register your interest in becoming a mentor, please email Doug Drinkwater.
How to apply for Next CIO? What to include in your submission?