What Does it Take to Become CIO?

Susan Hall
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Seven Ways to Become Partners with the CFO

Great tips for building a partnership with your company's top financial executive.

The pseudonymous John McGreavy at InformationWeek in December wrote about the key traits of middle managers in IT. Now he's writing about those who will become CIOs.


McGreavy, who's actually the "CIO of a billion-dollar-plus company," says these traits grab his attention and put that person on the short list to replace him:


  • Future CIOs figure out the players. They befriend senior-level line-of-business executives, they figure out how things really get done, how decisions are made. More importantly, they figure out how these execs' performance is measured and how IT plays a role in that. Then they use this information to elevate their role in the organization.


My colleague Ann All wrote about the advice of Gartner Fellow Mark Raskino, who urges CIOs to "identify the people around them most likely to rise to the top job and take time to help them in the late stages of their professional development." That's not to say that CIOs won't become CEOs themselves. Raskino cited important skills for that: a willingness to tackle challenging projects, an appreciation for financials and strong communications skills, especially the ability to discuss technology in business terms. Which leads us to McGreavy's next points:


  • Future CIOs understand the language of accounting and finance. He says, "They set budgets, revise forecasts, approve fixed-asset spending, understand depreciation's impact on profitability, and hold themselves and their teams financially accountable.
  • Future CIOs don't just complete a project; they create a solution to a business problem. And they make sure everyone knows it was their baby.


And not least:


Writes McGreavy:

Future CIOs make this happen through superlative people management. They develop and motivate their teams to work on the right things at the right times. They plan and execute aggressively.

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