Why Do So Few CIOs Move to CEO Role?

Ann All
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Fifty-three percent of CIOs surveyed by CA Technologies for a new report think they are well positioned to move to a CEO role. In reality, though, such a shift is not common. According to the report, 29 percent of current CEOs came from the chief financial officer position, while 23 percent were previously chief operating officers. In contrast, just 4 percent of CEOs rose from the CIO position.


When asked why relatively few CIOs had successfully transitioned to the CEO role, 58 percent of CIOs faulted perception that their role is technical and 53 percent said CIO is seen as a role that runs a business support function rather than a core business area. Sixteen percent of CIOs cited prejudice within their organization against CIO progression.


One in four CIOs said their board was "digitally illiterate" and did not understand the impact of new and emerging technologies, and a further 39 percent of CIOs said the board didn't understand the value that IT brings to the business. Perhaps too many of the CIO respondents don't recognize that educating CEOs and other key stakeholders about how technology can help solve business problems or attain business goals should be one of the CIO's key responsibilities.


CIOs and CEOs surveyed last year by Ryerson University and the CIO Association of Canada cited drive and personal desire for the CEO role as the biggest requirements for CIOs who want to become CEOs. Other factors they mentioned included change-management skills, relevant work experience and mentors who offer good career advice.

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