The DNA of successful New Zealand CIOs

The DNA of successful New Zealand CIOs

Today’s CIOs are not boxed in as IT managers, but executives who can provide business solutions – and the successful ones share four characteristics, according to Hays Information Technology.

Carl Powell, group CIO, Fletcher Building
Carl Powell, group CIO, Fletcher Building
Successful CIOs are no longer senior executives who have spent their career in IT. They increasingly have spent time working in the broader business world in order to act as an effective interface between IT and the business and, critically, deliver business outcomes.

This is one of the key findings of the DNA of a CIO report by Hays Information Technology, based on interviews with 243 ICT executives across Australia and New Zealand.

The report finds today’s CIO’s are not boxed in as IT managers, but rather are people who can provide business solutions. They have a genuine desire to be involved in business improvement, and are in a unique position to act as a link between business strategy and IT strategy.

As a result, there is no ‘box ticking’ approach to reaching the top IT job; instead aspiring CIOs need to gain a broad base of experience both inside and outside IT, says Peter Noblet, senior regional director of Hays Information Technology.

“You do not need to have held a certain job before you can be promoted to the next. Instead, reaching CIO is more about gaining a broad base of experience rather than checking off a list of job functions.

“Such a broad base of experience helps aspiring CIOs understand how to deploy technological solutions that map back to business objectives,” he states. “CIOs truly are an interface between IT and the business.”

Related: ‘The CIO holds the most strategic role in the enterprise today, with the exception of the CEO’: Carl Powell of Fletcher Building

Read more: Do you need another CEO?

David Kennedy, CIO, Orion Health
David Kennedy, CIO, Orion Health

The report distills the four characteristics of successful CIOs:

Trait one: A solid technical foundation

The report finds a third have a degree in information technology, computer science or systems, and a quarter have a master’s in business administration. More than half (53 per cent) hold IT certifications or have undertaken additional IT qualifications. Once they enter IT, it usually takes 11 years or more to reach CIO, the report finds. Meanwhile, 15 per cent of them sit on the board of their current organisation.

Trait two: ‘Soft skills’

CIOs describe themselves as adaptive (54 per cent), hardworking (49 per cent), proactive (48 per cent) and collaborative (48 per cent). They have taken courses in people management if necessary, broadened their leadership skills and are accessible. Their advice to the next generation of CIOs is this: ‘Get involved with the business rather than just technology’.

Related: Primed for change: CIOs from New Zealand’s largest ICT using organisations harness an arsenal of leadership and technology tools to succeed in a constantly evolving business environment.

Trait three: Ongoing professional development

A great majority (71 per cent of CIOs (have attended networking events in the last two years. They also kept up to date with the latest industry changes (54 per cent), partnered with key departments outside IT (39 per cent), worked with a mentor (29 per cent), undertaken training to understand functions outside IT (23 per cent), and undertaking further formal qualifications (21 per cent).

Trait four: A passion for people

For most of them, working with IT people is one of the best things about being a CIO, the report states. “It is this passion for people that is the final piece of their DNA.”

Related: Career watch: Why more CIOs are getting MBAs

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