Best Practices for Climbing the Career Ladder

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Not all CIOs aspire to run a company. But for those that do, there are a number of steps that can be taken to become more attractive CEO candidates.

One recommendation is by taking steps to shift the view of IT as a cost center to one that provides innovation and financial value to the enterprise. CSC’s sixth annual global CIO survey of 590 IT executives conducted with IDG Research Services reveals that a whopping 39 percent of CIOs say IT is still viewed as a cost center within the organization. It’s tough to get on a company’s radar as a CEO candidate if your track record defines you as an order taker.

One of the ways for CIOs to break this view of IT is by partnering more closely and more frequently with both line of business leaders and the C-suite to create solutions aimed at boosting revenue and crafting new business models and away from simply deploying technologies demanded by the business. CIOs that are able to accomplish this are able to point to a track record of accomplishments that will help them stand out to boards of directors and executive recruiters.

Another step that CIOs should take to develop the skills needed to rise into the upper echelon of leadership is by becoming immersed in a line of business. In some cases, CIOs have taken over responsibility for e-commerce or supply chain activities. Sometimes these responsibilities are added to a CIO’s role and in other cases the CIO moves out of IT altogether.

In some cases, the CIO has transformed the IT organization into a business which offers a catalog of services to the business such as data center support and application development services that are priced and resourced to different parts of the enterprise. This is another way for CIOs to demonstrate their acumen for running a business and for managing P&L responsibilities.

Think and act like a CEO

CIOs who aim for the CEO mantle also need to demonstrate that they can think and act like a CEO. This includes compiling a track record for problem solving and leading a team through a series of successes.

The IT department can serve as a fiefdom that represents the CIO’s accomplishments in these areas. But just as successful CEOs are able to collaborate and draw the best out of his or her executive team, the CIO also needs to demonstrate how he or she has partnered successfully with other members of the C-suite and line of business executives. Doing so demonstrates how a particular CIO has been able to communicate and partner successfully outside of the IT organization and with various business leaders to help the enterprise reach its goals.

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