CIO To CEO: It Can Happen - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
5/13/2008
04:19 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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CIO To CEO: It Can Happen

How many CIOs make it to CEO? Frankly, you can count them on one hand. But if that's what you want from your career, there's hope: Here's one who made it.

How many CIOs make it to CEO? Frankly, you can count them on one hand. But if that's what you want from your career, there's hope: Here's one who made it.Al Biland, former CIO of Snap-on Tools, a quality manufacturer if ever there was one (those who work with tools know what I'm talking about), is now the president and CEO of CC&N, a Wisconsin-based telecom services company that provides cabling, data/voice management, remote network monitoring, cell-phone/PDA administration, and building security solutions, according to a release from the company.

Biland has been working on his management chops for a while. It's explained this way in the release:

Biland, 49, was most recently senior vice president of Snap-on Inc. and president - Snap-on Tools Company, LLC in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Prior to that, Biland served as president - Diagnostics and Information, as well as chief information officer (CIO) for Snap-on. He held positions of increasing responsibility in Information Technology with CNH Global, a manufacturer of Agricultural and Construction Equipment in Racine, Wisconsin, before joining Snap-on in 1998.

Al Biland has been a good friend of InformationWeek's over the years, always willing to talk about the vicissitudes of the CIO life. In an e-mail, Biland said this about his new position:

"I spent the last 6 years or so focused more on operations, having ceded my CIO position at Snap-on Tools back in 2005. I am now the President and CEO of a technology company in Wisconsin ... It is a great fit as it leverages my experience in I/T and allows me to continue to progress my general management career!"

As technology becomes more pervasive in business (if it CAN become more pervasive in business), it makes sense that a person with CIO experience would make a good candidate for a top executive spot. So far, that has not been the case, at least not widely or on a regular basis. But there's no reason to think it won't be more common in the future.

If you're looking forward to a CEO title at some point in your career, serving on a corporate board or two is probably a good step toward the corner office, though CIOs have even found it hard to make that happen. The CC&N release says Biland has served on the board of directors of The Hillman Company and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Do you know of any CIOs who have made it to the CEO spot? Is this something you aspire to yourself -- and if so, what are you doing to point your career in that direction?

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