How To Make The Leap From IT Pro To CIO - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
IT Life
Commentary
3/28/2016
09:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
100%
0%

How To Make The Leap From IT Pro To CIO

Executive recruiter Kathy Harris gives us an in-depth look at how to rise to the top levels of IT.

8 IT Projects To Prioritize When Budget's Tight
8 IT Projects To Prioritize When Budget's Tight
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

If you're looking to advance your career in the direction of the CIO's seat, the first thing you need to do is learn what it really means to be an IT leader. For starters, it could mean loving technology a little less. That's the advice of Kathy Harris, executive recruiter and managing director of Harris Allied.

"Sometimes a technologist wants to embrace a new technology because they love it," said Harris in an interview with InformationWeek. "But the mindset of senior managers is that technology is a tool to further the business. It is not an end unto itself. Making that shift is the first step in the process."

Once you've made that mindset change, Harris said, the ability to develop teams is something businesses look for in potential IT leaders. "The person tapped [for] more senior roles understands the big picture," said Harris.

"If you are in a leadership role, you are only as good as the people around you. As a leader, you have to engage with your team and continue to cross-train and develop the team. Team building is really critical. Most people don't think in terms of the team. They think the job to be done is the work. But the real work is developing the team."

Of course, you can help develop all of the teams you want, but you're still going to need the qualifications for the next step. Long before you're ready to start job hunting, Harris recommended that you monitor job descriptions of roles you are hoping to have one day. See how many of the qualifications mentioned in those ads are ones you currently have.

If you're lacking in any areas, look for ways to help your current manager with tasks that will help you gain the necessary experience. For example, if you've never handled a budget, look for ways to assist your manager with budgeting.

Create a culture where technology advances truly empower your business. Attend the Leadership Track at Interop Las Vegas, May 2-6. Register now!

So, now you're all ready to make the big leap. What are the biggest surprises you'll face in trying to land your first role in senior IT leadership?

"You'd be surprised by how many senior leadership jobs are filled by networking," Harris said, "For many IT pros, that doesn't come naturally. Think about how to become comfortable with it. When we help fill senior-level positions, like CIO, the person is often referred" to the agency by someone in his or her network.

The higher up the ranks you want to climb, the more prepared you need to be for a rigorous interview process, warned Harris. "It is going to be longer. It is more exhausting. These things take on a life of their own and go on for months," she said. "You'll be meeting with people across the company. They look for things like executive presence. Do they see this person as being able to represent the company in panels? Can they speak publicly and represent the company?"

(Image: hesalzmanngmailcom via Pixabay)

(Image: hesalzmanngmailcom via Pixabay)

How do you impress the people who interview you for a senior IT role? According to Harris, you need to emphasize these four things:

  • What you've made
  • What you've built
  • What you've saved
  • What you've achieved

"In other words," she said, "what is the business advantage that you've brought to your company?"

Once you've gone through the marathon interview process and talked to every stakeholder -- and told every one of them what you've made, built, and saved -- how do you know whether the job is right for you? "The most important thing is to understand the expectations of the role," said Harris. "What does the company expect? What are they expecting in 30, 60, 90 days? Get the roadmap down."

Not every CIO job is a fit for everyone, she said. Some leaders are better caretakers, better at fixing problems, or at managing growth. You have to match your abilities to the type of role that is offered. Don't jump at the first offer you get.

Above and beyond all else, Harris cited the one trait she thinks people most like to see in executives: Optimism. It might be the one thing that helps you stand out from the pack as you look to advance your career.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2016 | 11:00:06 PM
I jumped, now what?
So you're saying I probably won't wake up with 5 CIO job offers in the morning just beause I have kids in college? -college costs many $ these days-
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/31/2016 | 11:53:35 AM
Re: Basically you have got to Love Technology Less....
That's a great idea, Ashish! And it's also true. In fact, almost everybody should have a copy since it seems most people have forgotten how to properly communicate with another human being in real life. 

All this makes me think that I have to start writing that book right away. Do you remember my other book project? :D 

-Susan 
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2016 | 9:56:17 AM
Re: Basically you have got to Love Technology Less....
Susan,

Yes I agree.

Guess -Art of Communication Books need to be gifted to Kids when they are graduating from School now?

LOL!!!

Sad but true reality.

 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/30/2016 | 5:25:31 PM
Re: Basically you have got to Love Technology Less....
Ashish, 

Thank you for the kind words. :) Simplicity is an advance course. There is always beauty and truth in simplicity, isn't it? The basics of human networking are hardly understood by anyone now, not just techies. 

-Susan 
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2016 | 9:39:00 AM
Re: Basically you have got to Love Technology Less....
Susan,


I knew a hugely accomplished Journalist like yourself could see the magic in the Simplicity of those words.

Its so much more basic and fundamental that almost anybody(&everybody) should be able to understand it.

Unfortunately,Most Techies are wired differently(me included on most occasions).LOL!!!

That's why its harder for them to understand the basics of Human Networking.

 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/28/2016 | 12:31:11 PM
Re: Basically you have got to Love Technology Less....
Ashish, "Technology is a Tool to help make Businesses job easier." <- Very well said. -Susan
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
3/28/2016 | 10:46:21 AM
Basically you have got to Love Technology Less....
David/Kathy,

Brilliant,Brilliant points shared by you here!

I really liked the first one about "Loving" Tech Less.

What most ordinary Techies(including myself) don't realize is that at the end of the day-Technology is a Tool to help make Businesses job easier.

Anything one can do or make to simplify the job of Business will end up benefitting more people than one can cares to admit today.

Yes,Absolutely correct that networking is also a great part of the deal but its something which can't and should'nt be neglected.

Especially as Jobs get scarcer and scarcer(as we move up the Ladder) it becomes readily apparent that you will have to fight harder to land the top spot.

Regards

Ashish,
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll