CIO career: From I to E – moving up in the world with a tech background

CIO career; Dalibor Siroky, CEO and co-founder of Plutora asks the question: 'What does it take to go from CIO to CEO?'

Prior to every company’s dependence on technology, the CIO career seemed to provide little prospect of providing a route to CEO. Now it seems like a natural move. Being the CIO and dictating the direction of technology adoption and development also requires evaluation of business needs in a similar way to the CEO. Due to this growing importance of the CIO role, it uniquely positions those holding it to develop and grow the skills and qualities it takes to become the successful leader of an enterprise business. To put it simply, the path from CIO to CEO is now more natural than ever before, and here is why.

The ‘I’ part

A CIO oversees the use of IT within an organisation. As such, the department equips every other functional aspect of the company with what it needs to get its job done. In this position, it is imperative that the CIO is on top of implementing suitable technology to streamline, optimise and promote strategic business benefits. This means a CIO’s IT strategy needs to align with the priorities of the business, and in doing so, recognise and understand how every department runs in the most efficient and effective way, and importantly, how it all fits together.

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In 2018 technology is fundamental and leveraging it effectively is a strategic imperative to remain competitive in any business – and that trend is showing no signs of stopping. A successful CIO needs to be a leader with a vision for how technology can drive a business forward – someone whose team works toward common business goals, motivating the business to leverage new technology to achieve higher performance and demonstrating how each change is integral to the bigger business picture.

This is all to say that, while the CIO is responsible for implementing technology, it is a far more overarching role that requires understanding the wider business objectives, compiling a collaborative strategy and driving initiatives to achieve these goals while providing the dependability and commitment to the business.

These are the necessary skills for the CIO career.

The ‘E’ part

Unsurprisingly, these same disciplines are critical to success in the CEO role. It is the job of the CEO to set the business objectives, strategy, goals and vision, and inspire teams to rise to them. A CEO needs to understand the possible challenges that will occur, the risks worth taking and the ones to avoid. This requires the skill and experience to take a comprehensive view of the business as a whole – every department, job, action and reaction – to see every piece as part of the bigger picture, set goals based on this and map out how to achieve them.

It could be argued that a CEO’s most important skill is communication:

  • Communicating business objectives in a way that makes them understandable and relatable to every employee so they know their role in achieving them.
  • Communicating the business strategy and expectations to shareholders and stakeholders alike, recognising that this relationship needs to be mutually beneficial to the company and those investing in it.
  • Communicating the product and vision to the wider public – to customers and prospects. A CEO must be able to clearly, openly and effectively communicate to encourage, motivate and influence, depending on the audience.

A CEO must also be someone that can lead – setting the tone of the business to motivate employees and attract talent. Having this transformational leadership style is impactful in new businesses just starting out and well-established enterprises. An inspirational CEO leads by example and creates the conditions for recruiting and retaining the best talent across the business – operations, customer service, sales, finance, every functional area. By having the right people in the right jobs and empowering them to lead the charge, a CEO can trust that every employee is working towards the same goals.

Just as a CIO must understand the role of a CEO, so must a CEO recognise the power of the appropriate and effective use of technology. Technology is the backbone of success in this day and age, and being open to the possibilities it brings, budgeting accordingly and adopting from the top down is critical. Keeping up to date with the latest market trends is key as innovation is everywhere, and it is with this in mind that a CIO career, could provide the background to becoming a CEO.

How to grow your IT career in 2016 with skills and certification imageHow to grow your IT career in 2016 with skills and certification

Competition among businesses is fiercer than ever, and it is often the organisations with the best IT infrastructure that come out on top. Computer skills are in high demand amongst employers, so use 2016 as your springboard to professional success by getting the required certification through the right IT training courses.

The shift

The similarities between these two roles are continually blending – a CIO is almost a CEO-in-training, maybe a CIO career provides the training to become a CEO. Both positions require a comprehensive and powerful focus on business requirements, a commitment to operating with excellence and the ability to manage and deliver on expectations. As CIO and CEO the fundamentals revolve around communicating strategy and vision in a way that energises and empowers teams. Most importantly, both must lead by example, value their employees and provide them with the resources and support they need to grow and succeed.

So, can a the CIO career, lead to a role as a CEO? Absolutely.

Dalibor Siroky is the CEO and co-founder of Plutora.

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