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CIOs' Career Dreams

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Eight Tips for IT Career Longevity

While much IT career advice covers the long trek toward the CIO’s office, or as close to it as one can get, CIOs have dreams, too.

Seventy-nine percent of the CIOs, deemed “elite,” at last week’s Forbes CIO Summit in Naples, Florida, want to progress into another role. COO or CEO sounds good, they say.

It seems the “career is over” definition of CIO is fading a bit. Metis Strategy President Peter High has been tracking the careers of CIOs who have moved onward and upward, and writes that the opportunities arise from four factors:

  1. IT and the CIO’s leadership role are more strategic than ever, touching every company division.
  2. IT and the CIO plan and implement the processes that run the business; that knowledge runs deep.
  3. Savvy CIOs are spending more time with customers – and customer data.
  4. More CIOs are joining boards of directors, often to help mitigate risks. Contacts made there make these CIOs into more prominent candidates for the CEO role.

A CIO.com profile of ASUG CEO Geoff Scott showcases many of these types of career highlights. Scott served on the board of SAP user community ASUG while CIO of footwear company TOMS – his second CIO position. That board activity put him front and center with ASUG execs when they were searching for a new CEO, and he was invited to throw his hat in the ring. Scott, who wasn’t gunning for the job, says that his new CEO position requires him to leave some of his CIO-style thinking behind. “A big part of my job is brokering connections, meeting people, understanding the challenges they face, and giving them a sense of where they can go next,” he says, noting that he is also an introvert and is enjoying the challenge of increased networking.

For those who want to make the move from CIO to CEO, Scott suggests joining a board in order to expand networks of influential folks; changing your mindset from CIO to CEO, or from technology provider to consumer; and being open to new directions. While Scott didn’t have a long-term plan to become CEO, an open attitude made it happen.

Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+.

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