Developing a Successful Career Path to CIO

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Professional Growth & Careers

You have traveled far on a career path for IT executives. However, the journey is far from over, as you still have more road to cover to thrive as a CIO.

Have you been around one or more CIOs that seemed to have the special qualifications it takes to excel at their jobs? They do not have a more polished resume, but they have what it takes to rally IT team members to achieve common business goals. As the leader responsible for a company’s IT infrastructure, the CIO implements strategies formed as the result of business objectives. They negotiate contracts and manage department costs to remain under budget. CIOs also work closely with IT team members to improve hardware performance, as well as discover the most effective software solutions.

Let’s see how you can develop a successful career path to achieve your dream job as a CIO.

Education: Now and in the Future

Most careers require a constant learning curve, as new skills arise to meet rapidly changing business dynamics, CIOs represent the ideal executive position in which constant learning is a vital part of the job description. Technological changes happen every day, and it is up to the CIO to gain the education required to meet the challenges presented by rapidly changing technology.

It starts by earning a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field, such as software engineering or computer programming. A Master’s degree follows in a specific area in which you want to become an expert. After your formal education, maintaining pace with rapid technological changes involves completing IT certifications and continuing education courses.

Seek Project Management Responsibilities

The IT field does not offer as much vertical career mobility as other occupations due to the fact that most jobs require specific technical skills that keep the same professionals in the same positions for years to come. To advance your resume in the IT field with your eye on a CIO position, you should seize the chance to follow horizontal mobility opportunities such as asking for more project management responsibilities.

Successful CIOs possess the leadership skills required to oversee complex, long-term IT projects, especially when it comes to digitally transforming an IT infrastructure. Your resume does not add a formal IT position in the “Experience” section, but it does add attention-grabbing job skills that demonstrate your background in project management. You also should consider enrolling in online project management courses.

Improve Leadership Skills

The timeless adage “Leaders are born, not made” refers to the importance of personality when it comes to defining strong leaders. Some of the common personality traits associated with proven leaders include high-energy and unwavering determination. Although “Leaders are born, not made” retains relevance, as we move through the 21st century, you still can grow as a leader by refining current leadership skills, as well as developing new ones that complement your natural attributes as a leader. Experience can help you improve leadership skills because you gain exposure to more conflict-resolution moments and assume responsibility for a larger, more diverse team of IT professionals. Gaining experience also increases the confidence you develop by leading your team to achieve company goals.

Network with IT Executives

You cannot expect to experience everything you need to grow as an IT leader. However, you can acquire a proper perspective on how to handle complex problems by discussing them with other IT executives that have experience in addressing similar problems. Seeking advice remains one of the most effective ways to follow a career path as an IT executive. From joining LinkedIn groups to attending live seminars, you can grow as a leader by networking with more experienced IT executives.

One example – IT Executives Council provides a variety of educational resources and ongoing programs developed specifically for CIOs, CISOs, and other information technology (IT) professionals. Get the latest insights and resources sent directly to your inbox by registering for our newsletter.

Learn How to Measure Success

One of your most important roles as an IT executive involves providing other C-Suite executives with the metrics that define company performance. With technology changing at a lightning-like pace, you must learn how to measure success with ever-changing operational paradigms. Consider stepping out of the box by learning alternative types of metrics that provide keener insights into the performance of your organization.

Show your fellow executives metrics that deliver an impactful statement, such as how your company is growing its strategic partnerships to increase sales and decrease costs.

The Bottom Line: Embrace the New Role of the CIO

CIOs have traditionally shunned the spotlight, choosing instead to work behind the scenes to achieve company goals. The more subdued role of the CIO has dramatically changed into a role that is highly visible not only to other C-Suite executives, but also to all employees in your organization.

Developing a successful career path for IT executives now requires acceptance into stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Additional CIO Career Resources

Embracing Emerging Technologies: How CIOs Can Stay Ahead of the Curve

How CIOs Can Make an Impact in Their First Year

6 Tips For IT Professionals Looking to Become a CIO


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