Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
8/1/2007
05:34 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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CIO: From Here To... Where?

There was a time, not that many years ago, when the acronym CIO was interpreted to mean Career Is Over. It was meant to imply, in a bitter, sarcastic sense, that the CIO job was what you might call a "terminal position"-nowhere to go from there but out the door.

There was a time, not that many years ago, when the acronym CIO was interpreted to mean Career Is Over. It was meant to imply, in a bitter, sarcastic sense, that the CIO job was what you might call a "terminal position"-nowhere to go from there but out the door.Now that the CIO has assumed a position of executive rank alongside the other CXOs, I'm guessing there's a little more job security and an upwardly mobile career path. Although not enough to avoid a certain amount of gallows humor, apparently.

"I'm living on borrowed time," says the CIO of a large Midwest insurance company. This individual was hired at his current position in 1997. "I was hired as CIO ten years ago," he says. "I'm overdue." But overdue for what?

If there is an upwardly mobile career path, what is it? Where do you go after CIO? The reason I ask is that I noticed a recent item from the Internal Revenue Service. Richard Spires, the CIO of the IRS, has been promoted to Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support, which I'm guessing is the same as, or at least equivalent to, chief operating officer.

The IRS's current Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support, Linda Stiff, was promoted to Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement. "and in that capacity will serve as IRS Acting Commissioner upon the departure in mid-September of Kevin M. Brown, the current Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement and Acting Commissioner," the IRS said in a statement.

The move from CIO to COO makes sense. Much of the operations of any modern-day company have to do with information technology systems. Kevin Turner is the chief operating officer of Microsoft. Turner's job before this one: CIO of Wal-Mart.

What other upward steps are there? CIO to CFO? I don't see a natural progression there. CIO to CTO? I'm not sure that's a promotion (we've talked about it already). The same lateral (or less) movement goes for CIO to chief marketing officer, chief privacy officer, and chief security officer, I believe. Correct me if I'm wrong.

What about CIO to CEO? That's a big step, all right. I'd love to know how that feels. I wonder how many times that step's been taken? If you're aware of a CIO who's made the jump to CEO, or you've made it yourself, let me know.

Otherwise, where do you go from here?

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