How Do You Get The CIO Job?

What are the steps that it takes to become CIO?
What are the steps that it takes to become CIO?
Image Credit: Matthew Hurst

The CIO job is the one that everyone in the IT department eventually wants to get. It can be a real challenge to line up an interview for this position and even more of a challenge to get selected for it. What everyone wants to know is what they need to be doing in order to someday make this happen for them so that they can share the importance of information technology with the rest of the company?

The CIO Job Interview

When you are going to interview for the CIO job, you need to get started by doing your research. You need to understand the spirit that was used to build the company. You are going to have to do a lot of self-reflection. What you are going to be looking for is relevance between where you’ve been and where the company is going. Understand that this CIO job may be new to you, but it may also bring you back to where you started. The people who are interviewing you will be looking to have you drive efficiencies in each of their businesses.

Likewise, the company will want the CIO to drive a culture of innovation, generate curiosity about technology, and look for ways to embed technology in everything they do. For instance, technology can be a means to serve customers even better, from automated self-help tools, to utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to equipping agents to answer a customer’s questions more effectively. The interviewers will want to make sure that your philosophy and approach is aligned with their values.

What To Do When You Get The CIO Job

If you are lucky enough to get the CIO position, you are going to have to land with both feet on the ground and start running. First, you will want to learn the organization. This means spending a lot of time with peers, with direct reports, and with the greater team in “coffee chats,” where you sit with the different groups of people on your team. With your stakeholders, you will want to go into each conversation with a set list of questions around their business priorities, their perception of IT, and their needs.

By meeting with your peers, you will encounter what many CIOs hear: more IT is better. Talk about a culture of integrating technology into everything you do, and note that there may be a visibly insatiable appetite from peers in the company. That’s job security, but also a challenge.

What Changes Should A CIO Make Early On?

What you need to realize is that some CIOs make the mistake of trying to put their own brand on the group and make overarching changes before they understand why the team operates the way it does. You are going to have to embrace all of the good things that are happening in order to avoid disrupting the flow of delivery and alienating your team. Your job, in the beginning, is to provide a third-party perspective.

You will need to spend time on overall organizational structure and program management. How well are you aligned with your business? How are we managing our programs? What technologies are we investing in? How are we weighting different technologies? And how are we measuring results?

What All Of This Means For You

So what should people who interview for the CIO job and get it do? There are three things. The first is to take the time to understand that your greatest asset is your people. You need to spend as much with them as possible. The second is to realize that you need to use your EQ [emotional quotient] as much as your IQ. It will allow you to you listen and empathize. Finally, make sure you understand the company culture as you go about setting your strategy. You may have a great strategy, but if it doesn’t align with the culture it will most likely fail. Just remember the old saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think that you need to study in order to be ready to interview for the CIO position?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job, you realize just how important mobile phones are to your company. These devices have become the way that everyone stays in touch and the way that we are able to find each other no matter what time of day or night it is. However, just as mobile phones have become a more and more important part of our lives just like the importance of information technology, at the same time the bad people out there have discovered that our mobile phones can hold the key to breaking into people’s lives and into your business. What should you be doing as CIO to keep your people and your company secure?

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