A group of the UK's most senior CIOs and other IT leaders have told V3 what skills and behaviours are required to make the step up into the boardroom.
So read on to see advice straight from the experts, and perhaps in 2018 you could join them on the list of the UK's top 100 CIOs!
Mark Ridley, Group Technology Officer at Blenheim Chalcot Accelerate
First, ask yourself - if you haven't already - if this is a move that you want to make, and that suits your skills. Something that I've often coached senior developers considering a move to becoming a manager is that this is a change of career, not a promotion. The move from IT manager or director to a board level position is similar. You will lose a lot of the hands on, technical aspects of the role, trading them instead for a role as a translator, salesman andcoach.
Depending on the business, your job will likely become one of treading a careful balance between representing technical issues and investments at board level, and responding to and prioritising business needs.
If you have previously worked within a larger IT organisation, your boss is likely to have been from a technology background. At board level, your peers on the executive team are likely to not be technical. A successful CIO can translate freely from deeply technical issues - like explaining technical debt - to financial ones, like how to capitalise investments. You will also need a good understanding of HR and people management as you'll often be required to deal with structural decisions that involve your most important asset; your staff.
Relationships with the CFO and HR director are critical. At the CIO level, it's critical that you are technical enough to quickly understand the issues that your team are facing, but business-savvy enough to champion the team to the board, and the wider business. A CIO who can inspire people outside of the technology team is a breath of fresh air to many businesses.
So - the first step? Be honest with yourself, take time to understand your own skills and what it is that makes your job enjoyable. If you are happy to relax your grip on technology, to let
other people in the technology organisation become the ‘rock star' techies, then maybe CIO is a good choice. As CIO all of your achievements come from other people's skill and commitment, and your first responsibility is to your team.
Charles Ewen, director of technology and CIO, the Met Office
I am always a bit sceptical about CIO, CDO, CTO distinctions. I recognise that in some contexts it make sense, I am not sure that there is a single definition of what makes a ‘good' CIO but that said...
My view of CIO is the role that steps back and looks at how most value to the organisation can be delivered using technology and how the organisation can deliver more value to its market by exploiting technology. In amongst that it is a role that should be equipping the organisation to recognise threats and opportunities presented by technology-driven disruption.
The hardest thing to do (well) is step back and ‘question the primitives'. It is tempting to continue to do what you have always done (in an IT context) but better (cheaper, faster, stronger) and much harder to question the need to do those things at all or at least, in remotely the same way.
The CIO role is also often trying to present a counter factual based justification to board colleagues - invest to save, invest to de-risk and so on. So, understanding how to create compelling cases to change, building up a track record of positive change over ‘just' delivering ever more effectively and efficiently is for me, what sets the CIO role apart.
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