My staff could look at any single day of my professional life and decide based on this that they would never want to be a CIO. They see me as the person that must answer all the hard questions when systems and processes don't work. They think my job is hard and complex, and that it appears to be nearly impossible to succeed at.
This perception is widespread in the IT industry, which makes it all the more important for the current generation of CIOs to develop and maintain a robust pipeline of future CIO candidates. Being prepared to rapidly replace people in critical leadership positions is also a business imperative. Thus, we need to make the case for the CIO job to the IT and business professionals who we believe can step into our shoes.
I am always looking for IT or business leaders who I think can make the jump to CIO. But it's not enough to identify them; we also have to develop them as leaders. Even when individuals say they want to be a CIO, often they don't really know what the job entails or what it could require of them.
I use my CIO office to provide potential CIOs with a formal development process to support our future IT leadership needs. It includes rotational positions on my team and opportunities to serve in business leadership roles. It is also important to look at external talent. A promotion to CIO should not be a rite of passage or an entitlement. Nevertheless, CIOs are responsible for developing talented people, giving them the right experience and then selecting the very best talent for open positions.
What Future CIOs Must Know
I start by explaining the core responsibilities of my job: I oversee information resource management and operations for the business. While it is helpful to have IT skills that can be applied to solve problems, the primary role of the CIO is to tie corporate strategy to IT investment in order to improve business capabilities and efficiencies.
I believe that the core abilities people need to become successful CIOs are:
Analysis skills. The CIO career path should include business systems analyst experience. Such jobs prove that a person can use problem-solving skills and analysis techniques to apply technology in the right place at the right time, in support of the business needs. CIOs also need process analysis experience so they can leverage knowledge of current and future IT capabilities that will improve processes.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.