The road to CIO

As a recruitment agency you are are often asked for advice from aspiring CIOs on how to make that important step into the top job. Clients are also interested in being able to identify the next generation of technology leaders. There are the key questions to address in assessing a future CIO.

What skills are required? How do you spot your next CIO even if they have not yet performed the role? If you're currently a direct report to a CIO what steps should you be taking to become a CIO?

1. Do the job, before you get the title

It's an old adage that you have to do the role before you get the title. There's an important message here that to be considered ready for a CIO role you need to demonstrate the skills and leadership qualities associated with the people already effective in the role. This is the only way to make you an obvious contender and critically this applies to both internal promotion/succession planning and when interviewing for an external role.

In practical terms this means pushing for the opportunities and experiences that will help you to develop rather than waiting for them to be thrust upon you. Without usurping your boss, you should be seen as close to peer level to the CIO before you will be seriously considered CIO material. This means asking your manager to continually devolve additional responsibilities to you and ensuring that you exceed performance expectations when this happens.

2. Ask yourself some questions

There are many skills required for a CIO role and there will be nuances depending on the organisation structure, industry and company culture. To be considered ready for a CIO role you should be confident of the following statements:

  • The rest of the business sees you as an integral part of their decision making and regardless of reporting line your input is sought out by senior stakeholders.
  • You have a track record of shaping and consistently delivering business solutions that have created tangible value.
  • You are commercially astute and numerate with the confidence to discuss finance at board level.
  • You feel confident driving strategy as well as leading operational and programme execution simultaneously.
  • You have a reputation for developing people and have a team of strong candidates for succession into your role. Few people would be surprised to hear you have been appointed CIO.

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