The CIO’s chief of staff: A role to bridge business and IT

The chief of staff role is taking on prominence in companies looking to bolster their IT leadership benches. Amanda Clarke discusses her experience in the role at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The CIO’s chief of staff: A role to bridge business and IT
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Few roles afford IT leaders the opportunity to double as both a strategic advisor to the CIO and as the glue to hold IT and business together. That’s exactly the position Amanda Clarke found herself in last year when she became chief of staff for Newport News Shipbuilding CIO Bharat Amin.

"I really am an extension of Bharat," Clarke says, who began her career as an accountant at the $8 billion maker of aircraft carriers before transitioning to IT 14 years ago.

Her duties are equal parts strategic and tactical in providing value to the organization. When her boss is called on to give a presentation, Clarke crafts the talking points and graphics. If business peers need something from IT, they usually lodge their requests with Clarke.

The chief of staff, defined

Clarke’s job is an exemplar of the position. The chief of staff often helms the office of the CIO, a team tasked with ensuring a consistent, strategic approach to IT service delivery, according to Gartner analyst Irving Tyler. But Tyler says the remit of the role varies widely. In some companies, the chief of staff is a glorified administrator. In others, the chief of staff wields more power. Despite the variability, the chief of staff is gaining steam in companies restructuring their IT departments for the future.

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